Thankfully, the vast majority of babies in the UK are born without any problems and their mothers receive excellent medical care from doctors, nurses and midwives while they are giving birth. For a small minority, however, this isn’t always the case. Birth injuries do, sadly, happen sometimes, causing injury to both mothers and babies.
Sometimes this can’t be avoided, but sometimes it can. If you or your baby has suffered a birth injury and you think it might be due to medical negligence on the part of a professional, you should speak to a medical negligence solicitor about the issue.
Talk to a sensitive and experienced Female Medical Negligence Solicitor
Birth injuries inevitably involve having to talk about highly sensitive and personal experiences. Some mothers feel uncomfortable about talking to a male solicitor about these issues.
You needn’t worry about that if you contact us – we have a highly specialised female medical negligence solicitor available for you to talk to – Denise Broomfield, who is just one of around 180 solicitors on the two highly specialist panels for medical negligence experts – run by the Law Society and patient justice charity AvMA [that’s just 180 out of well over 100,000 qualified solicitors in England and Wales].
What’s more, another of our medical negligence solicitors is a qualified and experienced nurse.
Maternity and pregnancy claims – the real scale of the problem
According to NHS figures, issued in a report dated October 2012 from the NHS Litigation Authority, between 2000 and 2009, 5 million babies were born in England and Wales. The report correctly points out that the vast majority of these birds are perfectly safe and don’t involve negligence claims. In fact although, less than 0 .1% of births result in successful medical negligence claims, that still means that around 500 mums and babies are the subject victim of unnecessary medical negligence each and every year.
And given how fragile babies are when they’re born, the injuries they suffer are sadly often extremely serious – and sometimes fatal. That’s why the NHS sadly had to pay out £3.1 billion in compensation for birth injuries in that nine-year period.
The shocking statistics about newborn and stillbirth fatalities
A stillbirth death is defined as the death of a baby 24 weeks or more after the initial date of conception. Tragically an estimated four thousand babies every year are stillborn with a further two and a half thousand failing to survive past the first month following birth. In 2010, there were found to be just over 5 deaths in every 1000 births, equating to over 15 stillborn babies each day.
What causes stillborn and newborn deaths?
Around 50% of stillborn cases are unexplained with the other half generally put down to various birth defects, issues with the placenta, or the illness or death of the mother during birth. With regards newborn deaths, birth defects are once again a common cause, as well as premature births. So why are so many unexplained? Sadly, it may be due to a failure to carry out post-mortems which could reveal important information that would save lives.
One of the most tragic things about these figures is that deaths during labour or birth can usually be avoided. Studies have revealed that up to three quarters of such intrapartum-related deaths were fully or partly caused by poor clinical care. Furthermore, according to some research, close to 50% of all stillbirth deaths could have been avoided if medical treatment had been better whilst the mother was pregnant.
Our clinical negligence solicitors have vast experience advising families who have tragically lost a baby. Although damages can never ease the pain, they can help to protect your financial position.
Common types of birth injury claim
The same NHSLA report from 2012 showed that the 3 most frequent categories of claim concerned;
- management of labour (14.05%)
- caesarean section (13.24%)
- cerebral palsy (10.65%).
Some of the more common particular causes of birth injury medical negligence claim include:
• Trouble following an episiotomy. An episiotomy is a procedure carried out to give the baby more room to be delivered, but if the wound isn’t stitched properly afterwards, it can cause problems for mothers.
• Trouble relating to a vaginal tear that has been missed or not treated properly. Most tears will be dealt with under local anaesthetic, but if they are not treated as they should be, they can lead to complications.
• Failure to carry out a caesarean in good time and failure to control infections in the mother.
• Excessive force being used on a baby’s head or neck. This is something that can lead to Erb’s palsy, which means the baby would have only limited control over one arm.
• If a baby is deprived of oxygen during delivery due to medical negligence, it could lead to conditions such as cerebral palsy. Around 10% of children with cerebral palsy have it because they were brain damaged At birth.
• Fractures caused to the baby during delivery due to improper handling or excessive force.
Was the birth injury caused by medical negligence?
It can sometimes be hard to know whether a particular injury is down to medical negligence or is just one of life’s tragic events. For instance, if a doctor has to take drastic action to save the life of a mother or baby, while it might cause injury it wouldn’t necessarily count as negligence as long as they could account for their actions and there was no other route for them to take.
This is why it is so important that you speak to one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors if you think you may have a claim. We can review your individual experience, advise you on whether you have grounds for a birth injury medical negligence claim and advise you on the best course of action.
Can I claim compensation for a home birth injury?
Home births only account for 1 in 50 births each year in the UK according to statistics released by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. However is it thought that as many as 1 in 3 should have home births without fearing that there would be any problems.
Sadly though, there are cases of women being wrongly advised to opt for home births or being injured by midwives during the process. Such negligence will often prove grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim.
Home births – Are they safe?
Fortunately, women are generally safe wherever they give birth in the UK which is sadly not the case in many countries across the world. 40% of pregnancies are though to be low risk in the UK of which only 4 births in every 1000 lead to serious problems for the baby during births e.g. breathing difficulties or stillbirth.
In most cases, women in good health are deemed to be safe to clear for home birth. However recent research from Oxford academics suggests that women giving birth for the first time are in fact at much higher risk of suffering complications at home than they would be if they gave birth in a hospital.
First time mothers giving birth at home were nearly twice as likely to have complications with their deliveries as those who give birth in hospital (although the chances of complication are still small, around 9 in every 1000 births).
- Claiming compensation for home birth injuries
If injury is caused to the mother or the child during a home birth and poor medical advice or treatment was to blame, a medical negligence claim may be justified. If the woman was wrongly cleared for a home birth or a midwife at home directly caused injury to the mother or baby, they could be said to have medically negligent because they breached their duty of care.
Due to the complex nature of such claims you will need a specialist medical negligence solicitor to conduct your claim. The time limits which apply are fairly relaxed, with parents able to claim until their child’s 18th birthday, after which the child has a further 3 years to claim themselves for any injury they sustained.
Our medical negligence claim team specialise in home birth injury compensation claims – and you can specify that you want a female solicitor to run your case if you wish –so call today for expert advice.
Don’t delay bringing your birth injury claim
Most medical negligence claims need to be bought within 3 years of you becoming aware of the negligence, so even though there are some exceptions made for negligence against people under the age of 18, it’s best to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Contact us about your Birth Injury Medical Negligence Claim today
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