Kingston Hospital accepts liability for serious maternity errors | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Kingston Hospital accepts liability for serious maternity errors

HXO was born at 41 weeks' gestation. His mother – CXO – had been admitted to the maternity unit two days' previously concerned about reduced fetal movements and after her waters had broken. She remained in hospital for CTG monitoring which was normal during the first 36 hours of her admission.

In the evening of day two, the mother was given Syntocinon to stimulate her labour. During the early hours of the next morning, her contractions increased to 6-7 in every 10 minutes. The hospital later admitted in its Root Cause Analysis report that the Syntocinon infusion should have been reduced at that point but instead it was wrongly increased until around 6 am. During that time, the CTG recorded reduced variability and an increasing baseline of the fetal heart rate. CXO's contractions increased to 9 in every 10 minutes but the labour did not progress well and the mother's contractions then stopped.

The abnormal changes on the CTG were eventually recognised and Syntocinon was halted. A decision was then made to prepare the mother for an emergency caesarean section due to fetal distress.

The delivery was complicated by the position of HXO's head. Three obstetricians attempted delivery using forceps which caused further delays. HXO was eventually born in very poor condition and was admitted to the neonatal Intensive Care Unit. While being treated in the ICU, HXO suffered a subgaleal haemorrhage but further failures and delays in his care meant he did not receive a blood transfusion for a further two hours.

An MRI scan confirmed HXO had suffered severe neonatal encephalopathy as a result of prolonged hypoxia around the time of his delivery. He now lives with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, he suffers up to 50 epileptic seizures every day, global developmental delay, severe visual impairment and microcephaly.

CXO remained conscious during her C-section because she had only been given an epidural, so witnessed the shocking events around her son's delivery. In particular, the clear sense of panic from medical staff, the intense pain and the distressing sight of her baby presented to her in a damaged state before being taken to intensive care. She suffered an adjust disorder and required extensive counselling while simultaneously managing life as a new mother.

Mark pursued two claims - the first on behalf of HXO for the irreversible and lifelong brain damage he suffered, particularly that had the Syntocinon infusion not been increased, he would have been delivered more than three hours earlier, avoiding all of his injuries, plus the two-hour delay in providing an essential blood transfusion to treat his subgaleal haemorrhage.

The second claim related to the psychological damage suffered by CXO as a result of witnessing the negligent delivery. Her claim was that she was a secondary victim to the negligence.

Following court proceedings being served, the defendant admitted a breach of duty in increasing the Syntocinon infusion in the early hours but denied that the decision made any difference. The Trust also admitted that the two-hour delay in providing HXO with the crucial blood transfusion made a material contribution to his brain damage.

The admission means that HXO is entitled to recover a full compensation package to fund his hospital treatment, care, physiotherapy and equipment. Mark will now quantify the child's claim over the next 1-2 years.

The defendant did not admit liability for the mother's injuries but a financial offer was submitted and following brief negotiations was settled.

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For further information about cerebral palsy claims and birth injury claims, please call Mark Bowman on 03304606794 or email


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