A £14.3m damages settlement has been approved for a boy left brain damaged after midwives failed to properly monitor his heart-rate during birth and therefore didn’t realise he was starved of oxygen.
The boy, now 17, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, needed resuscitating after being born.
The consequent brain damage means that he suffers with significant cognitive and motor impairment, finding it difficult to carry out simple everyday tasks such as dressing and feeding himself. Experts say this will only worsen as he gets older, and he is expected to need increasing mobility aids in later life.
He will be unable to ever live independently or work, and will need life-long round the clock care, adapted ground floor accommodation and relevant aids, equipment and therapies.
The errors were made after an otherwise normal, full-term pregnancy when the boy’s mother was admitted to the labour ward for delivery.
On admission to Hemel Hempstead Hospital, the baby was found to be well, with a normal heart rate, but later during labour there was no adequate monitoring of the baby’s heartbeat for a significant period, during which he sustained prolonged starvation from oxygen.
As part of the legal case led by medical negligence specialists Hudgell Solicitors, and after subsequent clinical investigations, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust admitted that this period of starvation of oxygen had caused the brain damage suffered.
Solicitor Arani Yogadeva, of Hudgell Solicitors, said the settlement reflected the ‘catastrophic, life-changing impact’ of the errors made on the delivery ward when the boy was born.
She said: “I am so pleased that we have been able to secure the vital care and support which our client needs for the rest of his life, which was the driving force for his parents to embark on this journey. The Judge recognised the impact of the Hospital’s errors on the family as a whole.
“It was accepted by the Hospital Trust that there was a breach of duty as midwives failed to spot abnormalities during labour, which, if detected, would have led to the child being delivered much earlier, and spared him such life-changing injuries.”
Damages settlement will reach £14.3m if boy lives to life expectancy
The damages settlement includes a £4m initial payment, which will be placed into a trust to be managed by a professional Court of Protection Deputy, alongside the boy’s parents. With subsequent annual payments for the rest of his life expectancy, the damages settlement will be worth around £14.3m.
Ms Yogadeva added: “Psychological experts agreed that the boy, but for his injuries, was likely to have entered and been successful in a professional career. The case and damages reflect both this, and the sacrifices that his family have undoubtedly made to accommodate his disabilities and help him maximise his potential.
“This settlement will ensure he and his family have the funds and support they need to ensure he enjoys the best quality of life.”
Case follows recent £8m settlement secured by firm for girl left with lifelong injuries at birth
The case follows the firm securing damages potentially worth around £8m for a teenage girl left with lifelong injuries earlier this year.
Hull-based solicitor Chris Moore, Joint Head of Clinical Negligence, secured the settlement with The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust following years of legal negotiations on behalf of the girl and her family, after a ‘catalogue of errors’ made during pregnancy.
As part of that case, it was alleged the Trust failed to manage the girl’s mother’s pregnancy and in particular her high blood pressure appropriately, leading to the girl being born ‘dangerously early’ at just 24 weeks.
Following approval of the settlement at the High Court, an initial damages payment of £2m was paid into a trust, with further annual payments to be made each year of her life to cover an ongoing dedicated case manager to oversee her many support needs.
It will also cover the costs for her to have 24 hour care when she is older, including providing appropriate accommodation for herself and her carer, as she will be unable to live independently.
Should she live into her mid-80s, as expected, the payments will total around £8m.