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Birth injury investigations – should you consider making a claim and what does it involve?

Posted: 14/11/2019


Although only a small percentage of births each year involve medical negligence resulting in a birth injury, it can cause permanent damage and changes lives when it does happen. If an injury at birth could have been prevented with the exercise of reasonable medical care, the child involved may have been spared a permanent brain injury. Their family may also have avoided the trauma, emotion and huge challenges of bringing up a disabled child and the associated financial worries.

A birth injury involves any injury that occurs immediately prior to, during, or shortly after childbirth and can arise from negligent GP, midwifery, obstetric or neonatal care (but not exclusively). While some birth injuries thankfully only cause a temporary injury from which the child still develops well, others can cause permanent and severe injury affecting the child on a long-term basis.

Examples of birth injuries regularly seen by the Penningtons Manches Cooper clinical negligence team include cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy and other brachial plexus injuries, meconium aspiration syndrome, bone fractures and severe bruising. Sometimes, but by no means always, these birth injuries could have been prevented with a better standard of medical care.

When birth injuries occur, parents are thrown into a world of medical appointments, investigations and test results, around-the-clock care needs, therapies, specialist schooling, accommodation and equipment necessities. Birth injury compensation claims are a way for families to independently investigate what happened during pregnancy and labour and what may have gone wrong to have caused their child’s injury, as well as to determine and provide for their child’s needs now and into the future.

When we investigate a potential claim we look at the following circumstances of the birth:

  • if protocols and procedures were followed properly;
  • if the mother was admitted to an appropriate unit/hospital for the risk status of her pregnancy;
  • the adequacy of monitoring of the baby’s heart rate during labour and how quickly any signs of fetal distress were acted upon;
  • how any complications in labour were dealt with;
  • if the medical team involved was sufficiently experienced and requested more senior help quickly enough;
  • if any concerns neonatally have been dealt with appropriately.

Legal aid is available for birth injury investigations where the child has been left with a severe disability and it is believed that the injury was sustained negligently in the mother’s womb; during delivery or up to eight weeks after 37 weeks gestation; or, if the baby was born before 37 weeks gestation, eight weeks from the time that the baby would have been of 37 weeks gestation.

If you have any concerns regarding your child’s birth injury and would like to consider an investigation, please do contact us for initial advice and support. We have a team of specialists who can help you.


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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP