My daughter has cerebral palsy. Can I claim compensation for childbirth medical negligence?
The fact that your daughter has cerebral palsy does not automatically entitle you to make a childbirth medical negligence compensation claim on her behalf. Cerebral palsy can be caused during a difficult birth when the umbilical cord gets compressed or twisted and blood flow to the brain is reduced, or stops altogether. When brain cells are not provided with oxygen, the cells die, leaving a child with severe mental disabilities. In many cases cerebral palsy can be prevented by adequate planning, such as when a mother has previously had complicated births, or when the baby is particularly large and a difficult delivery is likely.
To prevent the possibility of childbirth medical negligence, an obstetrician or midwife should be aware of any previous medical conditions which could potentially lead to a difficult birth and take steps to ensure that problems do not occur – such as recommending a c-section delivery. Not all difficult births can be prevented, but any complications during delivery need to be attended to immediately and decisions made by the supervising obstetrician in a timely fashion, such as ordering a forceps delivery if the baby is at risk.
Obstetricians should be aware of the potential risks of shoulder dystopia, which is when the shoulders of the baby get trapped by the mother´s pelvis. Any signs of shoulder dystopia need immediate decisions to be made to prevent harm to the baby. Any failure by medical staff to recognise any telltale signs of problems, failure to take reasonable actions to prevent a difficult birth, or a lack of attention leading to harm to a baby can be considered to be childbirth medical negligence, and if cerebral palsy has resulted, compensation can and should be claimed.
Only a small percentage of cerebral palsy injuries are caused by difficult deliveries and medical negligence during birth. It has been estimated that up to 80% of cases of cerebral palsy cases occur are due to pre-natal problems. If a mother has an infection, seizures or thyroid problems during pregnancy these can all lead to cerebral palsy, along with hereditary and genetic factors making the condition more likely to occur.
In order to determine whether childbirth medical negligence applies, a medical negligence solicitor would need to look at the specifics of the case, consult patient medical records and determine if the birth injuries have been caused by negligence of doctors and could have been avoided. When negligence can be proven, and the action or inactions of doctors and midwives have directly led to birth injuries such as cerebral palsy, childbirth medical negligence compensation can be claimed. If in any doubt, or if you wish to pursue a childbirth medical negligence compensation claim, it is vital that you speak to a specialist medical negligence solicitor for advice.