After ZD’s waters broke, no satisfactory CTG trace was obtained and no record was made of the baby’s heart rate. BD was born by normal vaginal delivery and although there was no sign of placental abruption, he was in a very poor condition with his first gasp at 25 minutes.
BD sustained hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy and was diagnosed with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. He has severe developmental delay, epilepsy, visual impairment and is tube fed. He has had surgery to reduce drooling and pooling of secretions and has to be aspirated hourly because of the risk of infection, chronic lung infection and risk of aspiration pneumonia. His oxygen saturations are monitored. BD has hypotonia of all his limbs and cannot hold his head up. He has little mobility and is doubly incontinent. He has no useful speech and requires constant attention, with disturbed sleep. His condition is permanent and life expectancy is very impaired.
It was alleged that there was a failure to properly monitor ZD from admission to delivery; the timescale was only 37 minutes and so the opportunity for the hospital staff to assess ZD and make a decision to deliver BD earlier was limited. The defendants made a number of robust arguments in response, namely that ZD did not have placental abruption so there was no need to deliver and even if the doctor had made a decision to intervene, this would not have led to an earlier delivery, and that in any event, earlier intervention would not have changed BD’s outcome.
Lindsay’s client’s claim was settled on the basis of 50 per cent of damages he would have received had he been born uninjured. Valuation of the claim was also challenging due to the importance of securing a swift settlement which provided BD with funds for accommodation, care and therapies for the rest of his limited life.
Total damages were ultimately agreed at £ 2.85m. This sum equates to a full value award of £5.7 million and took account of BD’s impaired life expectancy.
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