Royal Sussex Hospital accepts liability for failed fetal testing of twins needing lifelong care | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Royal Sussex Hospital accepts liability for failed fetal testing of twins needing lifelong care

Iona Meeres-Young resolved liability for the wrongful birth of twins at Royal Sussex County Hospital. Babies Oscar and Ottilie were born with Down's Syndrome following the hospital's failure to identify significant defects during the antenatal period.

Both babies will have materially lower cognitive function, significant therapy needs and require lifelong care.

Oscar and Ottilie's parents instructed Fieldfisher to investigate their clinical negligence claim. Expert evidence was obtained from an independent sonographer and a fetal medicine specialist who advised that the nuchal translucency of both twins was significantly under-measured at the 13-week combined screening scan.  

A screening test for Down's syndrome, Edwards' syndrome and Patau's syndrome is available between weeks 10-14 of pregnancy. This combined test amalgamates measurements of the nuchal translucency (the sonographic appearance of fluid under the skin behind the fetal neck) on the ultrasound scan with blood test results.

Our expert sonographer confirmed that neither twin was measured at the widest lucency and the callipers were not properly placed on the upper and lower skin lines. Had the measurements been recorded correctly, the combined risk score would have been higher than the threshold result of 1:150 when referral for further testing is recommended.

The twins would have been identified as high risk for Down's syndrome and the parents would have been referred to the fetal medicine unit. They would have been offered diagnostic testing via amniocentesis, CVS or NIPT and Down's syndrome would have been diagnosed. The parents would have been offered and accepted termination of pregnancy.

There were further missed opportunities at subsequent growth scans where the femur lengths of both twins were consistently overestimated. Correct measurements would have been below the 3rd centile which would also have triggered referral to fetal medicine with the same chain of events.

A pre-action Letter of Claim was sent to the Defendant Trust outlining the above allegations of negligence. Liability was resolved and a significant interim payment secured to meet the cost of care, case management, suitable accommodation and much needed therapy.

Quantum investigations are ongoing to establish the lifelong needs of the twins. The claim is likely to be worth many £million given it concerns the cost of bringing up twins.

Fieldfisher instructs Lizanne Gumbel KC of One Crown Office Row Chambers.

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For further information about twin birth injury claims or wrongful birth claims please callIona Meeres-Young on 0330 460 6769 or email


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