PRQ was born on 15 August 2007 at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. She was her parent's first child. The pregnancy had gone well until 14 August when PRQ's mother's blood pressure rose, proteinuria was noted in her urine, her legs swelled and she noticed reduced fetal movement. She was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and was booked for an induction the following day. However, PRQ's mother's waters broke during the earlier hours of 15 August and she was already in labour when she was admitted at 8am.
The admitting midwife missed the diagnosis of pre-eclampsia and so categorised the mother as low risk rather than as a high-risk delivery, meaning warnings of problems with the labour were not picked up or acted on. During labour, there were several points at which the CTG monitoring showed abnormal heart beats of the baby, but these were also misinterpreted. In particular, there was a failure to respond to a slow heart beat lasting four minutes, the point at which we said PRQ's mother should have been taken to theatre for a caesarean section.
Investigations into the claim were hampered initially by the original CTGs being lost and then by delays by the Trust lawyers in responding to the Claimant's allegations of negligence. After we began Court proceedings, the Defence claimed that earlier delivery would not have affected the outcome. We challenged the Trust to provide an explanation of their argument, forcing them to re-examine their case. Before the hearing, an Amended Defence was served with a full admission of liability, accepting that the Defendant's delay in delivery caused PRQ to suffer hypoxic ischaemic brain injury, and that her injuries would have been avoided with earlier delivery.
Following the admission, we quantified the claim using a Paediatric Neurologist, Physiotherapist, Speech & Language Therapist, Care Expert and Occupational Therapist as experts. Because PRQ lives in London, it was particularly difficult to resolve differences over the amount of damages she was due for accommodation. The high cost of property in London combined with the severity of PRQ's injuries, plus recent changes in the discount rate and case law decisions on recovery of accommodation damages compounded the difficulties.
PRQ's settlement will provide safety and security for the rest of her life and will allow her family the peace of mind of knowing that she will receive the care she needs, with the equipment to enhance her life. The educational indemnity included in the award means she will also get the support she needs at school to get the most out of her education.
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