Although most cerebral palsy conditions are not caused by medical negligence, many children have cerebral palsy as a result of an error by the hospitals and doctors during labour or after birth which has resulted in damage to their brain. Most commonly, newborns are injured by mismanagement during delivery when the baby is deprived of oxygen.
What are the most common causes of brain damage to newborns?
The most common mistakes causing brain damage and cerebral palsy are:
- During labour, the medical staff have failed to recognise that the baby is showing signs of foetal distress often in the slowing heart rate.
- Failure to deliver the baby earlier either by caesarean or instrumental delivery
- Failure to interpret the CTG correctly meaning the baby’s heartbeat has not been monitored correctly.
- Mismanaging shoulder dystocia when the baby is stuck in the birth canal
- A bleed on the baby’s brain
- Failure to appreciate that urgency is warranted in response to worrying signs either in the mother or baby or both, during labour.
- After the child is born, failing to diagnose infection most commonly when meningitis is left untreated.
Signs that may indicate a problem during or after the baby’s birth?
Common signs that may indicate that the child’s cerebral palsy was caused by medical negligence are where babies:
- Are delivered by an emergency caesarean section
- Require resuscitation, oxygen support or cooling.
- Need to be transferred to intensive care.
- Are suffering from seizures.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
- Spastic Cerebral Palsy – this is the most common type of cerebral palsy causing the child tight and stiff muscle tone, limiting their movement in parts of the body. Movement limited symptoms include inability to extend the joints, exaggerated movements, abnormal gait, and abnormal reflexes. This can be very painful for the child particularly when overcoming muscle spasms.
- Athetoid Cerebral Palsy – This is also known as dyskinetic cerebral palsy. This is characterised by fluctuating muscle tone such that it can go from tight to loose thereby impacting on their movements. This can cause problems with gait, swallowing and speech and being able to sit upright.
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – this affects motor function and causes problems with balance and co-ordination. This causes problems with walking and speech. This type of cerebral palsy is rare.
Our Experience with Cerebral Palsy
Our team are highly experienced in birth injury claims involving brain injury to the baby and understand the enormity of the difficulties this will have for the parents and child’s life. We appreciate the complexity of determining whether there has been negligence and in managing your child’s needs. Stephanie Prior, a former RGN and Jodi Newton each have over 20 years’ clinical negligence experience and have dealt with many birth injury cases.
We have access to the best medical experts, rehabilitation, case management, financial advisors and court of protection lawyers to ensure that the process of bringing a claim is undertaken seamlessly but combined with the sensitivity our lawyers understand is required when handling what is a personal and difficult set of circumstances for the family.
Our team work closely with obstetricians, neonatologists, midwives and paediatricians to investigate cases carefully, to achieve the best outcome for our clients and their families. We are mindful that many clients require emotional as well as legal support.
With years of experience in working with children with cerebral palsy, we have set out below recent examples of our work on such cases:
- February 2020 – we secured an admission of liability for a girl born with cerebral palsy due to a delay in correct interpretation of the CTG, indicating the child was in distress and that a Caesarean delivery should have been performed earlier. The NHS Trust has apologised to the family and an interim package was secured which has enabled them to move into a house with the space and scope for adaptation, necessary to enable our client to access therapy. We have also arranged an extensive rehabilitation package with an experienced case manager, assisting her mother in making important decisions to manage our client’s complex needs. We expect our client’s final compensation award to be between £10-20 million.
- June 2020 – following our investigations and pre-action Letter of Claim, the Trust has apologised and admitted liability for mismanaging our client’s birth, leaving him with severe cerebral palsy. Had the seriousness of his deterioration been recognized he would have been delivered earlier, and his injuries could have been avoided. We have instructed a case manager to co-ordinate a package of care and therapy for our client and anticipate securing a substantial interim payment of compensation. We expect the final award of compensation to be between £10-£20 million which will compensate him for his pain and suffering and pay for his extensive care and therapy needs, as well as all other associated financial losses.
- June 2020 – we are acting for a 7 year old child who was delivered in poor condition and he suffers from Athetoid Cerebral Palsy. His family were only told of his diagnosis when he was 14 months old despite complaining to health professionals that he was not meeting his milestones. His family have only recently instructed us.
- We are also acting for a child who suffered hypoxia at birth but was cooled. However, he has hearing loss and other difficulties which are being investigated.
Get in touch with our specialist team
If you think that you or your child has suffered a cerebral palsy injury and that you have a case to claim for compensation, please get in touch with our specialist team as soon as possible. Our team have many years’ experience in representing patients and their families, who have been affected by cerebral palsy.
Our promise to you
- We will review your negligence claim by advising you on the NHS complaints procedure or other alternative procedure if your case does not relate to NHS care and treatment;
- We provide a free initial consultation and case review;
- We can assist you with any issues that you may have regarding the complaints procedure or that you encounter in obtaining copies of your medical records;
- Our specialist clinical negligence solicitors will advise you as to the best course of action in respect of your case.
Call 020 7485 8811 or complete our online contact form