Home birth errors lead to catastrophic brain damage for baby girl | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Home birth errors lead to catastrophic brain damage for baby girl

Caron Heyes represents AD, a child whose mother elected for a home birth under the care of York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The home birth was badly mismanaged by the two attending midwives, leading to AD sustaining an acute hypoxic ischaemic insult during the last 12-14 minutes of labour, and a further seven minutes of hypoxia after birth due to substandard resuscitation techniques.

AD has catastrophic brain injuries that mean she will need 24-hour waking care for life. Her injuries have forced housing and work choices upon her family, who have managed all her care and social needs since her birth.

AD's mother had chosen a home birth, having correctly been advised it was a suitable option. However, during labour, there were indications that the foetal heart beat was dropping off (late decelerations). These were not recognised as significant by the two attending midwives, although they recorded them correctly. They also misinterpreted a pathological foetal heartbeat (under 100 bpm for a sustained period of time) at 01:00 am and again at 01:08 am and so negligently missed the opportunity to call an ambulance to transfer AD's mother to hospital for delivery. Had they done so, AD would have been born in good condition, uninjured. The midwives attending the home birth were wholly unprepared for the critically ischaemic baby, and mismanaged the initial resuscitation causing further injury.

Up until exchange of expert evidence, the defendant had denied that transfer would have taken place in time to avoid injury, although they admitted the reading of the heart beat at 01:08 was incorrect. With the assistance of our paramedic expert, we located further disclosure of ambulance records and service of those documents on the defendant along with powerful lay witness evidence, contributed to the defendant admitting liability.

Within three months of admission, we obtained £1million in interim damages, appointed a case manager and are working with the family to adapt their current home pending a move to long-term specialised accommodation.

Following admission, the family said to Caron: "You have been absolutely outstanding. … your expertise, strategy and hard work got AD the liability [admission] but also, … the support and advice you provided on the EHCP and social care, among a whole host of other things, was a life line for me.  The relief in knowing that AD is safe and protected for the rest of her life is overwhelming. Huge thanks from all of us."

Contact us

For further information about midwifery negligence claims and birth injury claims, please call Caron Heyes on 03304606743 or email caron.heyes@fieldfisher.com.


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