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7 year old with cerebral palsy receives £3.4 million

Mary was born at a London Hospital. The mother’s pregnancy was normal and she went into hospital as advised when she started to notice signs of labour. The staff looking after her carried out checks intermittently on the fetal heart rate.

Photo: istock

24 July 2003

Mary was born at a London Hospital. The mother’s pregnancy was normal and she went into hospital as advised when she started to notice signs of labour. The staff looking after her carried out checks intermittently on the fetal heart rate. However they misinterpreted signs that the unborn baby may not be coping well with the effects of maternal contractions and that she needed to be monitored further in case the situation became worse and the child needed to be delivered promptly with the assistance of forceps or by caesarean section.  Monitoring of the fetal heart was discontinued.

When monitoring was resumed the staff failed to call a doctor to assess the situation straight away. The labour was allowed to continue for hours beyond what our independent medical experts advised was appropriate, during which time Mary suffered brain damage (prolonged partial asphyxia). Resuscitation was needed when she was delivered.

Mary was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (quadro), bilateral hearing loss, microcephaly, epilepsy and severe developmental delay.  She is unable to speak but communicates using non-verbal means.  Her intellect has been affected but she is aware of cause and effect and interacts with the environment.  Mary will remain fully dependent on others for feeding, toileting, dressing, mobility and day-to-day needs and will need care, assistance, therapies, aids, appliances and adapted accommodation. Her life expectancy has been reduced because of the effect of the disabilities.

The Defendant admitted negligence in failing to monitor the unborn child’s condition and admitted that she should have been delivered over an hour earlier than actual delivery took place. The Defendant alleged that the damage occurred at some time earlier in the pregnancy and denied that any damage occurred during the period of negligent care and treatment.

The case was settled only a few weeks before the trial when the Defendants made an acceptable offer.  Our client received a substantial damages award which has enabled the family to purchase and adapt accommodation suitable for Mary's needs. Mary will also received annual, index-linked payments to cover the cost of care, therapies, equipment, transport and other miscellaneous expenses.

Mary was represented by partner Sally Jean Nicholes  in the clinical negligence department at Leigh Day & Co.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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Clinical negligence

Who worked on this case

Sally Jean Nicholes