Cerebral Palsy due to inadequately monitored  high risk labour – £5,836,168

At 38 weeks into her pregnancy, Mrs Nelson was admitted to hospital with elevated blood pressure, proteinuria and a slightly swollen face and fingers. She was discharged and had daily blood pressure checks for a week. She was induced after another two weeks at the same hospital.

Despite her pregnancy being high risk and her complaints of headaches, she was infrequently monitored and it was found that there were abnormalities in the baby’s heart rate. Her baby needed to be delivered by forceps after an attempt at ventouse delivery failed, and the cord was wrapped round the baby’s neck and body. The baby needed to be resuscitated and suffered fits in the special care baby unit. The birth injury led to a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.

To find out more about this case please see below –


Issue: Cerebral palsy following prolonged high-risk labour that was inadequately monitored.


The Claim: Alan Mendham, specialist medical negligence solicitor, pursued a claim on the basis that the pregnancy should have been considered high risk and the labour subject to continuous CTG tracing, and that even the intermittent monitoring of the fetal heart rate was carried out too infrequently. Had adequate monitoring been carried out, heart rate abnormalities would have been detected and delivery would have occurred before the baby suffered any injury. It was claimed that prompt attendance of a paediatrician would have reduced the injury sustained.

Result: Proceedings were issued. Initially the Defendants denied both breach of duty and causation but eventually the claim settled. March 2013. Compensation awarded: £5,836,168 (General Damages £263,735 + Special Damages £5,572,433).


Case Summary:

Ms Nelson became pregnant for the second time in September of 2001. The pregnancy was uneventful except for on 16th May 2002 (at 38 weeks), she was admitted to Hospital C with elevated blood pressure, proteinuria and slight oedema of the fingers and face. She was admitted overnight and then discharged to have daily blood pressure checks for a week.


She attended for induction of labour on 7th June and given 1mg of Prostin just after 4pm that afternoon. She was noted to be complaining of headaches, had proteinuria ++ and a blood pressure of 140/90. Nothing happened in response to the Prostin. At 4am on 8th June she was reviewed by a doctor, given Co-Dydramol for a persistent headache and bloods were taken. She was given a second dose of Prostin at 5pm. The following morning at 11am she was given a further 1mg of Prostin. Nothing happened in response to that dose of Prostin and she was not reviewed again until shortly before 5pm when a further 1mg of Prostin was given, following which she was then not reviewed until after 10pm that night.


At 11.30pm her membranes ruptured and she passed a small amount of pink stained liquor. By 3.35am she was having strong contractions. A vaginal examination was carried out and Ms Nelson was 1cm dilated. She was given Pethedine and then not reviewed again until just after 5am when she was found to be distressed. There was no note of the fetal heart rate in the records between 5.05am and 6.20am.


At 6.20am a vaginal examination was carried out and Ms Nelson was found to be fully dilated and transferred to the Central Delivery Suite. 25 minutes later, a ventouse delivery was attempted but failed. Her baby, was delivered with forceps at 6.47am.


The Apgar scores were 2 at 1, 3 at 3 and 4 at 5. A thin cord was found wrapped around the body and neck and a small but complete placenta was delivered. The cord PH was recorded at 6.99. It was 13 minutes before the paediatrician arrived. The baby was resuscitated and taken to the special care baby unit where he fitted. The baby was subsequently diagnosed as suffering from cerebral palsy.


Posted in Birth Injury to babies,Cerebral Palsy