Bill was born on Saturday 2 June 1990 at midnight at gestation 37 weeks. His mother was an insulin dependent diabetic and the obstetric team had recognised that Bill was at risk of suffering hypoglycaemia in the neonatal period.
At birth, Bill had a low blood glucose level which fell to zero in the hours after birth. Notwithstanding this, Bill was not admitted to the Special Care Baby Unit for correction of the blood glucose level until about 10am the following morning.
Subsequently, Bill's mother contended that Bill suffered fits (and subsequent brain damage) due to neonatal hypoglycaemia on day one and day two.
Sadly, Bill went on to suffer very severe spastic quadric cerebral palsy. We argued on Bill’s behalf that the midwives and the paediatricians had been negligent in failing to recognise the low blood sugar and in failing to admit and treat Bill in the Neonatal Special Care Unit.
Although Bill’s physical injuries were consistent with a pattern of damage caused by hypoglycaemia, an MRI scan performed some years after birth, showed another potential cause of the damage, i.e. PVL. There is medical controversy as to the cause of PVL and the defendants strongly contested that such damage could not be caused by hypoglycaemia.
The injuries to Bill are so severe and his needs are great, the claim is potentially worth a very substantial amount of compensation.
On 3 December 2007, the matter went to trial and lasted for 12 days.
A number of highly qualified neonatologists, paediatricians and neuroradiologists gave crucial evidence to the Court.
Paul McNeil acted for Bill who was funded by Legal Aid.
In giving judgment for the defendant His honour Judge Mitchell stated that:
“...if the causal link between hypoglycaemia and PVL is proved a decade in the future then [Bill] may well have suffered an injustice. However, as I have been at pains to identify, there are a series of missing links in the causal chain which have led me to the conclusions which I have reached…”
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