UK Case Illustrates The Cost Of Dealing With A Birth Injury

A seven-year-old boy in the UK has been awarded over £30m ($38.1m) in compensation after being left severely brain-damaged at birth. It's one of the biggest negligence payouts made by the NHS. The boy's brain was starved of oxygen at birth, which caused hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy, leaving him with many disabilities. As they busily prepare to welcome their new baby into the world, no expectant parent ever imagines that this scenario could happen to their child. But around the world, vast numbers of children suffer birth injuries resulting from a mistake by a nurse, doctor, or medical team member who has failed to deliver the appropriate level of care.

Causes Of Birth Injuries

Birth injuries affect one in every 33 babies born each year in the US alone: equivalent to around 3% of all babies. One of the most common consequences of birth injuries is cerebral palsy, which can occur due to brain damage caused by medical negligence. This type of brain injury can occur due to improper fetal monitoring, prescribing incorrect medication that causes an adverse reaction or trauma, or poor communication between medical staff that leads to incorrect instructions for the mother and baby's care. Interventions such as a cesarean section or the misuse of forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery can also result in birth trauma.

Compensation Following Birth Trauma

Almost half of all birth injuries are avoidable if the hospital or medical team takes appropriate care. Cerebral palsy is one of the most debilitating birth injuries, and it can significantly affect a child's quality of life right into adulthood. Aside from the child's physical pain, mental anguish and having to face lifelong physical and learning disabilities, the cost of future care for a child with cerebral palsy can reach tens of millions of dollars. Thousands of cerebral palsy malpractice claims are filed each year to seek compensation for the harm caused by hospitals', physicians', or nurses' negligence. This financial payout is crucial in ensuring that the child has the best quality of life, while also giving the rest of the family peace of mind.

Duty Of Care

Medical professionals have a duty of care to their patients during each stage of pregnancy, delivery, and after birth to ensure that every baby is brought into the world as safely as possible. However, while a congenital disability occurs as part of the baby's development in the womb, birth trauma occurs during the birthing process or when the baby is delivered. Most cases of cerebral palsy are attributed to the negligence of a medical professional. 

Discovering that your child has a life-long disability is devastating, but knowing that it was caused by medical malpractice makes it even harder to comprehend. But while it may be their new reality, parents shouldn't be the ones to face the spiralling costs that come with it. While it cannot undo the pain and suffering, compensation can cover the cost of care and equipment for the rest of the child's life.

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