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Boy significantly injured at birth awarded compensation following negligent forceps delivery

Kirsten Wall, a partner in the medical negligence team at Leigh Day acted for eight-year-old JRM in his claim against King’s College Hospital for the circumstances of his delivery by forceps.

4 August 2017

Shortly after delivery it became clear that the boy, known only as JRM to protect his identity,  had extensive bruising and was unable to move his arms or legs. It was discovered that he had sustained a significant spinal cord injury and would be ventilator and wheelchair dependent for the rest of his life.

The claim was brought on the basis that the spinal cord injury was caused by the Obstetrician delivering JRM not identifying his position correctly before using the forceps. This means that the forceps were applied over JRM’s face and the back of his head.

This failure to appreciate the correct position that JRM was lying in also meant that increased force was needed to deliver him. This then caused his devastating spinal cord injury.

JRM’s case was defended all the way to trial by NHS Resolution and was heard by Mr Justice Gilbart in May 2017. Judgment in JRM’s favour was handed down in August 2017.

Mr Justice Gilbart noted in his judgment that, “the fact that the baby was so bruised afterwards shows that no little force was used”.

While the Obstetric Registrar and Obstetric Senior House Officer (now an Obstetric Consultant and Senior Obstetric Register respectively) both gave evidence in defence of JRM’s case at trial.

However, Mr Justice Gilbart determined that their evidence was, “at the very least, unreliable”.

In concluding his Judgment, Mr Justice Gilbart raised his concerns about the case being defended and said, “I am very critical of whoever it was in the Defendant Trust or in the NHSLA who considered that this claim should be resisted on the basis (amongst others) that the delivery was a straightforward and unremarkable forceps delivery”.

As a result of this Judgment, Kirsten will be working with JRM’s parents to obtain a payment of compensation to him that will allow him to be cared for and undergo the necessary therapies and treatment he requires for the rest of his life.

Kirsten Wall from the medical negligence team at Leigh Day said: “I am delighted that this decision means that my client’s significant ongoing needs will be met and will allow him to lead a full life with his family. 

“The decision by NHS Resolution to fight the case to a trial on liability meant that JRM’s parents were required to give evidence in court about the traumatic circumstances of his birth. 

“I agree with the Judgment that it is a shame that we had to fight JRM’s case this far to obtain the compensation he is entitled to.”   

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