Basingstoke County Court has approved the settlement of a clinical negligence claim against Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which was undertaken by Penningtons Manches on behalf of a four year old girl.
The child’s mother was a Type 1 diabetic and her first baby had been delivered via forceps due to shoulder dystocia. The birth of her second child progressed well until the baby’s heart rate began to slow and the decision was taken to deliver her using forceps. The mother, despite having received an epidural, remembers being able to feel the forceps being used while her husband and mother also saw the obstetrician insert the forceps and make a very sharp turning motion in order to deliver the baby.
The medical records however painted a different picture, suggesting that the forceps were put in place and that the baby was delivered with one pull. Despite there being no mention of shoulder dystocia in the records, there was a reference to the “McRobert’s position” being adopted. This procedure is used to manage shoulder dystocia and to attempt to deliver a baby successfully without injury.
Following a number of investigations, the baby’s parents were eventually informed that she had suffered Erb’s palsy, a condition which, after trauma during birth, can impact upon the nerves that supply the movement and feeling to the arm.
Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team obtained expert evidence which concluded that despite the inconsistent notes recording the delivery, there was evidence of shoulder dystocia. It was alleged that the medical staff failed both to recognise the fact that the birth was complicated by shoulder dystocia and then to manage this so that Erb’s palsy was avoided.
Liability was not admitted by the trust but it accepted an offer to settle the claim. As the child is a minor, the settlement required approval by the court.
Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team has also advised the child’s mother on a claim for psychological injury arising from the distressing nature of the birth. Although liability was again denied, the trust was prepared to settle the case after a series of negotiations.
Emma Beeson, an associate in Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team who advised on the child’s claim, said: “It was extremely distressing for the mother to witness her baby’s pain and suffering but have no explanation from any of the medical staff as to why she had been injured. It was equally upsetting for her to see that the records of her child’s birth were completely different to her own recollection. While the defendant failed to acknowledge that the child’s birth was complicated by shoulder dystocia, we are pleased that it has been willing to settle the claim and recognise that she suffered unnecessarily after her birth.”