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Case Study

Settlement for death of twin boy at Royal Sussex hospital following catastrophic injuries inflicted by forceps

Senior Associate Arti Shah recently secured a substantial sum in damages for the negligent death of a two-day-old baby against Royal Sussex County Hospital. 

Arti was instructed by Edyta and her husband Michael, after the sad loss of one of their twin sons Andrew, on 25 January 2017, due to negligent treatment he and Edyta received during the course of Edyta's labour.
Edyta had undergone IVF treatment to become pregnant. On 21 January 2017, she was admitted to hospital at 32 weeks + 2 days in labour with twins. She was monitored by CTG, and initially progressed well. However, after 2 days, progress slowed, and a category 2 Caesarean section was planned.

She was taken to theatre and was advised to wait whilst the Consultant attended to assist with delivery. When the Consultant arrived, he performed an examination, and stated that Edyta had made further progress, such that she could attempt natural delivery. He therefore unilaterally changed the plan for Caesarean section.

Twin 1, Arthur, was born by ventouse relatively easily.

Twin 2, Andrew, was born approximately 1 hour later. The ventouse failed on 2 occasions, and forceps were trialled. During the second attempt, the forceps first crushed and then slipped off the skull and Andrew's heart rate dropped from 150bpm to 60bpm. Andrew was delivered by emergency Caesarean section before both babies were taken to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU).

Edyta and Michael were not told of Andrew's injuries. They were advised that both babies were well, and had been taken to SCBU because they were slightly premature. However, later the same day, Michael received a telephone call advising that there was a problem with Andrew.

When they saw a Consultant, Edyta and Michael were given the devastating news that Andrew had a subdural haemorrhage (bleeding between his brain and skull), and was in hypovolaemic shock as a result of the extent of blood loss he had suffered. His chances of survival were extremely slim.

Edyta and Michael took the heart-breaking decision to stop treatment, and Andrew sadly passed away 2 days later. During the course of his very short life, Andrew had to be intubated and suffered from seizures.

A post mortem was performed and identified several skull fractures and evidence of bleeding in different areas of the brain.

An Inquest was held and the Coroner was highly critical of the treatment provided to Andrew. She concluded the cause of his death was:
(a) hypovolaemic shock; and 
(b) intracranial haemorrhages and skull fractures due to birth trauma.

The verdict she reached was:

"Medical misadventure being acute injury/birth trauma sustained during instrument assisted delivery in circumstances where national and local protocols were not followed and communication during the delivery was deeply flawed."

In light of the highly critical findings, Arti invited the Trust to admit liability at an early stage. When they replied, they accepted liability for Andrew's injuries, but not Edyta's. Despite this, an early offer of settlement was made by the Trust, which was rejected.

Arti proceeded to obtain expert evidence from a fertility specialist and psychiatrist, and prepared a detailed Schedule of Loss to value the claim. These were sent to the Trust's representatives, NHSR, to consider with an offer to settle. Negotiations ensued, and less than a week later, Arti negotiated settlement at a level approximately four times the value of the first offer made on behalf of the Trust.

During the course of the case, Edyta and Michael became pregnant again and happily had a healthy baby girl.  
After the case concluded, Edyta and Michael commented on Arti's handling of their case:

"When we first contacted Arti we were not sure what to expect as we had never been in a situation like this before. From the beginning, Arti put us completely at ease. She visited us at home, explained everything to us and took us through the whole process step by step. She told us to contact her when we needed, but that she would otherwise be working on the case and would get in touch with developments. We never had to worry.

"Arti got the Trust to accept liability soon after we had first met, and then worked hard to arrange appointments with specialists to prepare reports to value the case. Arti kept us updated throughout, with several meetings and conference calls to go through details, before negotiating a settlement figure which exceeded our expectations, and which we were happy to accept. Nothing will bring back Andrew but the funds that we received will allow us to go back for further rounds of IVF and help secure our children's' future. Thank you Arti."

Contact us

For further information about birth injury claims and clinical negligence claims, please call Arti Shah on 0207 861 4139 or email arti.shah@fieldfisher.com.

Alternatively

All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win, no fee.

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