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Suing the hospital - Brain Damage(46 Posts)
I'm sorry this might be a bit of a long explanation, I'm wondering if anyone has sued the NHS before as my family are really pushing this on me and I'm not sure whether to go through with this or not, or even where to begin.
I went in to the hospital at 41 weeks as I hadn't felt my son move the entire day. Arrived around 7pm.
Got admitted to the labour ward, said we could choose to be induced if we wanted to, or could go home, as they were fine with his heartrate. I knew something was wrong, so we decided to be induced, which literally went against everything we wanted.
I had a pessary inserted at 11pm, had such a bad reaction they had to remove it at 12am because my body had started contracting continuously - they even checked my room spray to see if any oils in it could stimulate contractions! His heartrate kept dropping down, coming back up, dropping down again. At 1pm they decided to break my waters. It was thick and gooey, hardly any in there and I was only dilated to 1cm despite the (literally) continuous contractions. I actually got no break in between, as soon as one ended another was already starting and his heart rate kept dropping, sometimes down to 80.
Things get a bit hazy here but I know I was monitored on the bed with no pain relief, continuously contracting until 3:30 when something happened that made them decide i needed an emergency c-section.
By 4:03am he was born, didn't make a sound for about a minute but his APGAR was 9. Cried, black stuff that was in his lungs (meconium we think) coughed up and suctioned out and all seemed okay.
I was taken to the recovery room and then by 6am i was wheeled on to the ward.
This is where things take a turn for the worse really. I had him for an hour on my own before they came and took him away from me based on some blood results. Left alone without my baby, spinal block still made me completely numb so I couldn't even move. A lot then happened that we weren't told about properly, fast forward to that evening and my son starts have seizures. That night he stopped breathing twice. Kept having seizures the next day and couldn't control his body or stop it from shaking. His organs showed damage like his kidneys and liver and he was badly jaundiced. We had to stay there a week while they did 4 lumbar punctures, he was on adult dose antibiotics incase he had sepsis and it was honestly the worst week of my entire life.
Long story short, an MRI revealed he has two patches of damage to his brain because the cord was tangled so tightly around his waist. The reason he wasn't moving was because every time he did his oxygen supply was cut off, and the contractions I was having were constantly starving him of oxygen and I didn't dilate because his head was nowhere near my cervix.
My family and friends all want to sue the hospital and the hospital itself is doing the highest level report in to his birth and submitting it the the CCG to make sure it never happens to anyone else and to see what lessons they can learn from my experience.
Has anyone else had a birth like this or sued a hospital?
What is the likely outcome in terms of his long term future and care. People dont just sue hospitals - damages are awarded based on care needs, huge 7 figure sums are to enable the child to have a quality of life that they lost.
Secondly were they negligent or was it just unfortunate that this happened - what signs were missed or what should have prompted them to do something sooner.
Unfortunately they can't tell at the moment, but the left side of his body is weaker than the right because of the area of damage. The part that got damaged affects his movement but they've told us we have to wait and see if he'll be able to crawl and walk etc. and it's impossible to tell on a small infant whether or not they will reach these milestones until they do manage to.
I am under the impression from the hospital that they believe they are at fault, and they should have done the c-section sooner. One of the phrases that was said to me in recovery was 'we think we got him out in time' but sadly that wasn't the case as they think the worst bit of damage was done as they were cutting him out.
You can phone some medical negligence solicitors. They will be able to tell you if they think you have a case.
How old is he now? On track for any milestones?
Regardless of anything else, congratulations on having your lovely son, and I'm so sorry that you didn't get the birth or early months that you expected. It's so very hard when you see milestones as question marks instead of eagerly anticipated moments to share with your baby. I know, for me, the questions were, and are, relentless in my mind.
I hope you get some answers that you can settle with. I hope you can come to some decisions.
www.teeslaw.com/medical-negligence OK we used this company another medical negligence claim something very different BUT (we used Janine) you have a limited period to sue what you need to do first is request full medical records presumably db & yours. sit down & try to go through step by step what happened - write it down it will be very hard - make an appointment if you cant use this company go through the Law Society website you will be able to check the expertise of the Practice - check on their website to see if they have case studies (they anonymise them) If you can take reading through these reports I would advocate accessing medical/midwifery websites to explain technical terms.# It is along drawn out process BUT you will need to do a hospital complaint first - my sympathy & love to you & your little one
I have no advice unfortunately, but I just want to say I’m so sorry you and your family have gone through such a traumatic time, regardless of the reason
The time for birth injury is 18 years from when the child is three so it’s not a rush in this case
I’m so sorry to hear you had such a bad experiences and your son has brain damage.
My DD also has some brain damage which I believe happened due to bad decisions at her birth. She took too long to be born and was not breathing at birth, yet there were no interventions until I asked (!) for them to do an episiotomy... . However I have not taken any legal action because (1) thankfully, she is actually doing brilliantly despite the damaged patches, and has no significant additional care expenses above any other child (she has been harder work in a few ways but not ways that cost money...!)
(2) in our case it would probably not have been possible to prove the bad practice or that it was that that caused the damage.
I would suggest, wait and see how he does, that is probably what a lawyer would say too because it is very hard to know how he will be affected. With luck his brain will adapt very well as DD’s has done.
I’m so sorry OP. I would contact a law firm like field fisher who are absolute experts in this before you do anything. It is a complicated area and other cases rarely analogous so I would not be put off by advice from random well wishers. Good luck.
@jawjee Yes, the limitation period for injury to a newborn is 18 years. You can call medical negligence solicitors and ask their view without needing to commit to anything. They'll request a copy of your maternity notes and any other relevant medical documents (your baby's medical records, GP records) and tell you what they think. Count a few weeks for them to get your notes and another few weeks for them to look at them. So minimum 2 months I'd say but 3/4 more realistic.
They should tell you if they think there was negligence. If they find there was no negligence, you can still have a case for personal injury.
Because your son may need specialist care, personally I would look into the legal route. Once the solicitors have done that first assessment, you can decide what you want to do.
As an indication, if the NHS admits liability, you're looking at around 2 years of legal back and forth. If they don't and your case goes all the way to court, you're looking at around 5 years of legal proceedings and you may not win at the end. The solicitor's initial assessment should explain where on that scale they think your case would sit.
There's a book called Birth Trauma by Kim Thomas that has a section on your legal rights for injury to you or your baby.
Congratulations on your baby, and sorry you had such a shitvtime
To bring a successful claim, you would have to prove negligence and causation. It’s nit clear whether they feel the brain injury was caused by the cord compression or by sepsis post birth?
I'm in a similar situation although my DD does not have brain damage she was not monitored properly after birth and the midwife failed to consider risk factors we already knew like her being small. I was never offered a debrief but please remember that this is your right after having a baby. I contacted the patient liaison service for that hospital and spoke to a senior midwife. She is clearly concerned because a casual not sure we have any slots until next year became could you come in next week. I am intending to do my own info gathering, make a complaint if appropriate and then seek legal advice. DD has no lasting damage but was subject to painful and invasive interventions that she wouldn't have needed. She can't stick up for herself so I feel it's my responsibility to pursue this. I have damage to my back from a botched spinal block and am struggling to get over the psychological distress of nearly losing my baby, not being told what was happening and having 5 days on a postnatal ward with all the other newborns whilst DD was in special care. Complaints and sueing are two separate channels and you must do both. A complaint is about the hospital disciplining staff and implementing change and a lawsuit is trying to put a price on your experience and any future projected costs if there are any.
How absolutely horrific for you and your family, your poor son. I'm so sorry that you have been going through this. It's an awful time and filled with so much uncertainty, it's not a wonder you don't know what to do.
I can relate a little bit (but no where near to this degree). My newborn came out of hospital 2 weeks ago after nearly a week in hospital to recover from an infection that was missed at birth (I raised my observations but was told what I saw were other things). She had to undergo many different tests including 2 lumber punctures and IV antibiotics. I have never been through anything so hard and she's fine now, so I can't imagine what you are going through. I also lost a family member 2 years ago through medical negligence (proven at inquest) where the hospital were supposed to make certain changes as the outcome. Our family decided not to sue, more than anything to be able to move on.
In your shoes I think I would need breathing space and to watch and wait. I'd want time with my LO to bond and have time as just us. After such an awful hospital experience I wouldn't be in a rush to take on a legal battle. I would want to observe and see how he was going to progress before deciding anything. In the meantime I would be keeping an open dialogue with the hospital and asking LOTS of questions and keeping very robust records (including dates, times and names) in case I did decide to sue.
I think my main question here is from a medical perspective and that's whether they should have picked this up sooner based on what they observed. For example when you weren't dilating, did they not worry about that because there was a very low change of it being due to what it actually was and a much higher chance of it being due to other things which were not of concern. Were there warning signs that they ignored or was it all just apparent afterwards? I'd be asking questions around that. Have you been offered a debrief?
Whatever you do, you are doing an amazing job. Be kind to yourself and try to somehow buffer the pressure your family is putting on you, it's the last thing you need.
It would honestly depend on his long term outlook and care required. The NHS should have to fund his lifetime of care, so suing for that amount makes sense. I would strongly advise getting a solicitor. I'm so sorry this has happened to you and your precious boy
I had that kind of gross negligence when ds was born at St. Mary's in London 18 years ago. Luckily he survived their incompetence, but does have other (presumably) unrelated issues so I know full well how costly (both financially and emotionally) chronic illnesses and disabilities can be. I suspect that St. Mary's have not changed their practices at all because for the 18 months it took me to get copies of my notes (which turned out to be completely falsified) no one seemed the least bit interested in even acknowledging that they had done things improperly and/or changing their practices. My only regret is not making a formal complaint because that's the only way to change practices, particularly if that complaint is in the form of a monetary lawsuit.
My son sustained a devastating brain injury following his birth. I was completely overwhelmed caring for my son and had severe chronic sleep deprivation. When I started to look into what happened the important medical notes were missing. So my advice would be to contact a specialist solicitor and get hold of all the evidence you can without delaying too long.
In order for a claim to be successful you would need to be able to prove not just causation, but that the hospital would have been able to take action which would have prevented the damage and did not. This is really difficult in cerebral palsy cases, as mostly it is not definitive as to the exact timing of the injury, and therefore what the hospital could/ should have done in order for the injury to not take place.
My dc3 is 15 and was brain damaged at birth. She had the cord wrapped around her neck and it is likely that cord compression was responsible for her brain damage (via hypoxia, obv). Our medical negligence claim has been ongoing for around 12 years now, with no particular end in sight. Every year or so they instruct a new expert and send me another report.
I’m a little unclear at what point you believe the brain injury was caused? With dc3 it was obvious at birth (her heart rate at birth was 28bpm and they crashed the paed’s - they took her away and didn’t confirm she was alive for four hours - she was seizing and spent six weeks in scbu, no suck or gag so ng fed). They couldn’t MRI for 12 days because she was oxygen dependent. If you believe the brain damage was caused prior to birth, you will need to be able to prove that there was a medical sign that different action should have been taken, was not, and that a different outcome would have occurred if it had. (For example, in my labour, they have pinpointed a time that a c-section should have occurred - but the student midwife did not monitor the fhr for 45 minutes (against all guidelines, let alone that it was a vbac labour where continuous fhr should have been in place). No evidence (because no monitoring) means there was no trigger that a CS was indicated. While you or I might think lack of monitoring constitutes ‘negligence’, it doesn’t in legal terms. I’m going to guess that while you were feeling hazy, his fhr wasn’t reacting appropriately to your contractions, which indicated ‘in distress’ and indicated cs was necessary. If this was immediately acted upon (usual time span is 15 minutes) then this would be deemed appropriate action by the medical team. If you were continuous monitoring, then the trace can be reviewed by an expert to highlight at what point a decision should have been made. Sometimes these things happen.
You don’t say how old ds is - I know how overwhelming it is - we were discharged from hospital with physio/ slt - essentially full therapy provision for a six week old, and consultant provision. My advice would be to attend a birth debrief if you have not done so already (I went at three months). Then make sure you are set up with the therapy ds will need (they already know ds has weakness on one side - he will need help and support with core stability and crossing the midline as he gets bigger).
Once he gets to 6 months, ask the physio about DLA. What support do you have in place?
They called it ‘developmental delay’ and hedged their bets for as long as they could get away with it. I had diagnosed cerebral palsy at 6 months.
As others have said, you have 18 years to make the claim. I would deal with the here and now for a year or two - keep building a file with all medical/ physio reports. You need to get over the trauma yourself before getting embroiled in a lengthy legal claim. There is no rush for that.
Congratulations on your wee boy though dc3 didn’t walk unaided until 7 and we were told she was unlikely to talk. She has an IQ of 142, is on the school debate team and skis black runs. It’s a long way from scbu, but she still has cerebral palsy.
I would suggest you get legal advice. You may be able to get a no win no fee deal and good solicitors will get your notes, expert witnesses and take the strain off you. Better to get that on place now.
I'm so sorry to read what has happened. What an awful time for you!
You've said the hospital is doing the highest level of investigation, that means they are taking it very seriously indeed & to have escalated to that level, they are aware of failings. Once that investigation is completed, you will be invited to meet with them (you can take someone with you, more if necessary) & they will talk you through what has happened. You should also have the name of someone to contact for updates, questions during the investigation.
My advice is wait for that. In the meantime, request both yours & DS medical records including results of bloods & the monitoring traces etc. Go through the notes for clarity & to highlight anything you weren't aware of & make a list of questions.
Once the meeting has taken place, ask for it to be recorded as a lot will be discussed & hard to remember it all, take time to digest it & then decide your next step.
You have no rush, no time limits looming. The actual timeframe is within 3yrs of your son's 18th birthday. You've been through so much & need to take things a step at a time so all of this doesn't get too overwhelming.
In my ds' case, it was 5 hours after they said that his heart rate was erratic and I needed an emergency cs, that the surgeon finally showed up to do the emergency cs. My notes said that I was in labor for 1.5 hours, when in fact I had been in the hospital in labor (essentially unmonitored because there was a staff shortage) for 40 hours before the emergency cs was done. After having the cs, I was left completely unmonitored for at least 12 hours (not even a checkin to see if I was alive, much less all the required blood pressure etc. checks that are supposed to happen after a cs) and my emergency call button was broken (as I discovered when I woke up shaking and in shock in the middle of the night).
Hi yes I know some people whose baby was badly brained damaged due to oxygen starvation at birth. They sued mainly because he needs lifelong care, a special school, adapted vehicle, new wheelchairs, special changing table with hoist (he’s a big child now). He’s brought them so much joy and can communicate via images /symbols on a screen. But they needed money to adapt their house have been put a lift in as can’t physically carry a 10 year old up and down each day. Good luck OP.
So sorry this happened to you.
One thing that stands out is family and friends want me to sue what do you want to do? And what do you want to get out of it?
It's all good and well them saying you should sue but they aren't the ones who will have to go through the process. I have a friend who has successfully won a medical negligence claim against the NHS for birth injuries which they admitted... still took 5 years for it to reach a conclusion and the stress and heartache it's caused Is awful.
So ask yourself do you want answers? Sound like they're already taking this seriously with the investigation so you may well get what you want from that.
Or is it money? In which case by all means go see a solicitor. Just please make sure it's what you want to do and not becasue you're feeling pressure from well meaning family and friends.
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