The High Court in London has approved a medical negligence compensation claim for £20 million for an eight year old boy brain damaged just before his birth in Ormskirk.
Protected by an anonymity order, the boy, who has cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs and neurodevelopmental delays as a result of his injuries, was delivered at the Ormskirk and District General Hospital after a normal pregnancy in 2014.
Solicitors for the family found that signs that his heart rate had slowed were present 39 minutes before he was delivered.
This should have prompted medical staff to deliver him within 12 minutes to avoid significant injuries as a result of oxygen deprivation, however, he was not delivered until 39 minutes after warning signs of distress were present.
According to his 48 year old mother, and 44 year old civil servant father, there were no signs that the medical staff involved were concerned and there was no sense of any urgency before he was born.
He was born in a poor condition, motionless, purple, and not breathing. He was resuscitated in front of his parents who remain traumatised by the serious incident with his mother still suffering with flashbacks.
The boy’s parents commented: “The medical staff present gave no indication that there was anything to worry about until our son, who was our first child, was delivered. At this point they were visibly shocked, and it was clear to us that they were not prepared for what we now know was an emergency situation.
“We were not given any information other than he was poorly and he had to be moved to the hospital in Liverpool where he remained for a few weeks.”
The mother was told that she would follow in an ambulance, but later advised that that would not happen, and she would instead soon be discharged.
His father continued: “The midwife told me not to go to Liverpool to be with my son because there was nothing I could do. I did go later that day and I was told then by staff in Liverpool that our son had suffered a significant brain injury.
“We stayed by his side for the next three to four weeks and at one point, we were told it was unlikely that he would survive. He did survive and had to be transferred back to Ormskirk. I remember the doctor who was in charge of his delivery shaking my hand as if congratulating me that our son had survived at all.
“None of the medical staff involved in his delivery provided any empathy or explanation, or even an apology at the time. We were told that an internal investigation would take place but did not hear anything further about this.”
Representing the family Diane Rostron, birth injuries solicitor, said: “During our investigation we found that several medical notes had been altered since our client’s son was delivered. He was showing signs of a slowed heart rate and the hospital decided that he would be delivered using forceps.
“Under these circumstances, it becomes an emergency, and he should have been delivered quickly – within 12 minutes of signs of distress being present to avoid permanent injury. This did not happen however, and he had a slowed heart rate for 39 minutes leading to a lack of oxygen for a prolonged period.
“Had the hospital acted promptly and competently, he would have been delivered 27 minutes sooner avoiding irreversible catastrophic brain damage. As a result of the delayed action in an urgent situation, he suffered avoidable and significant injuries leading to cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs alongside neurodevelopmental delay.
“He has complex care needs and is unable to feed himself or walk, he has speech delay and is still in nappies. The approval of his settlement today will mean that his lifelong care needs can be met.”
His parents continued: “As a result of what happened to our son, and the lack of empathy from the staff involved following his traumatic birth, we decided to travel nearly double the distance to Liverpool – some 17 miles away from home – when we had our second child.
“We simply do not trust the staff in Ormskirk. We would like to know what the hospital has learned from this, and the preventative measures they have put in place since our son was born.”
The £20 million settlement will be spread annually during the course of the boy’s life to cover the cost of his extensive care needs.