When a baby is born it’s a wonderful and special occasion that many feel is the best feeling in the world. In most cases the NHS offers an excellent maternity service and everything goes well but in some instances the mother can get injured and the results can devastate the whole family. If the injury is caused by the error of a doctor or nurse then the mother may be able to claim compensation for medical negligence.
The types of injuries that people claim for can happen during pregnancy, during labour or after the birth has happened. Some examples of claims made against maternity staff include:
- Pre Eclampsia
Pre eclampsia is when there is a defect in the placenta and it stops delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the baby. It is a very serious condition and can result in the death of the baby and mother as well.
The only way to deal with pre eclampsia is delivery of the baby or, if the baby is under developed in the womb, then careful management of supplies to the baby.
Midwives should monitor blood pressure and take urine samples regularly to monitor for pre eclampsia. If the checks have been missed and a mother suffers from pre eclampsia then they may have a case for a medical negligence claim.
- Wrongful Birth
Wrongful birth is a phrase used when a mother would’ve terminated the pregnancy if she had known about a birth defect which has led to a physical or mental disability or other birth defect.
Birth defects include Downs syndrome, hole in the heart, club foot and spina bifida. All of these defects should be able to be diagnosed during pregnancy by scans and other tests but if they are missed by the midwives or other medical professionals due to faulty equipment or poor training then compensation can be claimed for the costs associated with dealing with that condition or defect.
- Cerebral Palsy
When a baby in the womb has reduced levels of oxygen then it can develop a brain injury known as cerebral palsy. This doesn’t explain the symptoms as they are different for each child but it can lead to problems with co-ordination, problems concentrating, restricted control of limbs and also fitting and epilepsy.
If the reduced level of oxygen was caused by a mistake of a doctor or midwife then a parent could claim for the extra costs of raising the child with a brain injury.
- Forceps Delivery Injuries
In most cases the midwives and doctors prefer to deliver a baby completely naturally and unaided but sometimes when the baby becomes distressed they need to deliver the baby quickly. They can assist by using forceps or another procedure called Ventouse delivery. Each of these should only be carried out by fully trained professionals because if done incorrectly it can lead to scarring on the babies face or permanent nerve damage which has an adverse, life-changing, affect on the child as it develops.
- Episiotomy and Tears
Sometimes when a baby is in distress a doctor or midwife may need to perform a episotomy or clinical incision to help speed up the delivery or to stop the mothers skin from tearing.
If the medical professional doesn’t perform the episotomy correctly (or doesn’t do it at all even though it’s needed) then it can lead to second or third degree tears which require surgery after the birth to repair and can lead to weeks or months of pain for the mother.
There are other conditions that can lead to birth injuries caused by medical negligence and subsequent compensation claims, the list above is just an example.
If any healthcare professional has caused an injury before, during or after the birth then there is likely to be a valid claim for compensation. There are time limits set out in law regarding medical negligence claims including birth injuries which mean claims need to be raised within 3 years of the mother realising that the injury was caused by somebody else’s mistake.
Patients should make use of free consultations offered by specialist solicitors to find one that has experience in dealing with birth injuries and has made recent successful compensation claims.