Medical errors made at or around the time of a child’s birth can have consequences that last a lifetime. The case of a 12-year-old boy who suffered a devastating brain injury in the wake of his traumatic delivery showed why compensation is not just desirable but absolutely necessary.
The boy’s mother suffered a period of pre-eclampsia prior to his birth, during which he suffered some oxygen deprivation. In his first hours of life, he was at significant risk of developing hypoglycaemia – dangerously low blood sugar levels – but there was a delay in giving him a glucose supplement.
As a result, he suffers from cerebral palsy. Although he is able to walk, his gait is clumsy and he is prone to falls. He has serious learning difficulties and poorly controlled epilepsy impacts on his sleep patterns. Needing 24-hour care, he has memory and concentration difficulties and can read only a few simple words.
After clinical negligence proceedings were commenced, the NHS trust that bore responsibility for his care made a full admission of liability. Further intensive negotiations yielded a full and final settlement of his claim. Together with a lump sum of £8.3 million, he would receive annual, index-linked, six-figure payments to cover the costs of his care and case management for life.
The High Court had no hesitation in approving the settlement and praised the boy’s parents for all that they had done to maximise his capabilities. Their devotion to him was apparent. Although no amount of money could recompense them for the many sacrifices they had made, the Court agreed that they should receive £200,000 of the damages total as some reflection of their gratuitous care for their son.