The claim arose from sub-standard care provided by Dartford and Gravesham Trust to Liam's* mother during her labour at the hospital. The pregnancy progressed smoothly and uneventfully. At 40 weeks' pregnant, the mother attended Darent Valley because she was having regular contractions and was concerned about reduced fetal movement.
It was alleged that the midwives caring for Liam's mother were negligent in monitoring the fetal heart rate during her prolonged, second stage of labour. They used hand-held Doppler to monitor the fetal heart rate and failed to detect that it was decelerating. The midwives should have commenced CTG monitoring, which would have revealed that the baby was experiencing a complicated tachycardia (fast heart rate). Unfortunately, this did not happen. Had the tachycardia been detected, the baby would have been delivered urgently and 48 minutes prior to the actual delivery.
As a result of the delay in delivery, Liam was born in very poor condition with low Apgar scores. He was admitted to the Special Care Baby Unit and began suffering seizures.
Liam suffered from hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy which occurred at the time of his delivery. Had he been delivered 20 or more minutes earlier, his injury would have been avoided. A subsequent MRI scan of the brain led to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy.
Liam now lives with asymmetrical quadriplegic mixed dystonic/spastic cerebral palsy and involvement of bulbar muscle (the muscle involved in chewing, swallowing and speaking) which manifests in abnormal speech. He is wheelchair dependent and his hand function is significantly impaired.
An investigation was conducted into the standard of care provided to Liam's mother during her delivery. Experts in midwifery, obstetrics, neonatology and neuroradiology were instructed to report on whether the care provided was substandard and whether this caused Liam's injury. Following mediation between the parties, the Trust accepted that that they are liable on a percentage basis for the full value of the claim.
Interim payments will fund a care package, therapies, treatment, aids and equipment and to purchase a property that will be specifically adapted to meet Liam's immediate and future needs, particularly important where the long-term outlook for a child is not yet established. In such cases, it will be some years before final value of the claim can be fixed to ensure there is life long support.
The case continues with the trial date yet to be set.
Liam's grandfather and litigation friend said:
"Kate and Sevim have been a constant support to our family, being there to answer all of our questions and reassure us with help and guidance. They have been knowledgeable and professional throughout and continue to be so. We have complete trust in their advice and would not have gotten this far without them."
For further information about cerebral palsy claims and birth injury claims, please call Kate Rohde on 0207 861 4371or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Sevim Ahmet on 0207 861 4093 or email email@example.com.
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