Birth and gynaecological injury claims may arise from complications during birth or surgery for procedures such including hysterectomy, oophorectomy, embolisation, laparoscopic, sterilisation, bladder perforation, or perineal tears.*
Birth injury to mother claims
Childbirth should result in a happy outcome for the mother, but this is not always the case. Injuries that occur during childbirth can leave you with physical and psychological suffering that endures for years. All mothers are entitled to a high standard of antenatal care. If there are indications that all may not be well, your midwife, nurse or doctor should identify them and seek to avoid a birth injury.
If you are a mother who has suffered a birth injury, you may be entitled to make a claim.
Cerebral Palsy claims
Cerebral Palsy is a congenital (existing before birth) condition that affects muscle tone, movement, and coordination. It can result in other health issues, including difficulties with speech, vision, and hearing, as well as learning disabilities in children. It is incurable, but the right treatment (including therapy, special equipment, and possibly surgery) can help improve quality of life.
Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the more common and serious form. It makes it difficult for the muscles to relax, so control and movement are poor. It is often associated with severe learning difficulties and a shortened life expectancy.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy presents with less pronounced symptoms.
This form has more subtle symptoms often associated with problems with balance, speech and perhaps shaky hand movements.
Common causes of Cerebral Palsy
Problems or complications during a mother’s labour and delivery seldom cause Cerebral Palsy. It often results from problems during pregnancy when a foetus brain is either damaged or develops abnormally.
However, Cerebral Palsy can be caused by negligence on the part of the doctor, nurse or midwife.
- Medical personnel not responding appropriately to an abnormal CGT trace or to changes in the baby’s heart rate indicated by the CGT monitor.
- Medical personnel not identifying or treating a mother’s high blood pressure or toxaemia (blood poisoning from a bacterial infection).
- Improper administration of Oxytocin/Synclinem to induce or accelerate labour.
- Injuries caused forceps/vacuum delivery.
- Injuries caused to the baby if the placenta separates from the uterus before birth (placental abruption)
- Injuries caused by poorly performed resuscitation of a sick newborn
- Depriving the baby of oxygen by leaving them in the birth canal for too long (intrapartum asphyxia).
- Failure to perform caesarean section when required
Erb's Palsy Disorder Claims
Erb's Palsy may result if the nerves in a baby's upper arm are damaged as the head and shoulders pass through the birth canal. A form of obstetric brachial plexus disorder, it affects the spinal cord’s ability to send messages to the arm. In most cases, the baby is unable to move the affected shoulder or arm.
Erb’s Palsy Symptoms
- The baby experiences pain or difficulty moving their arm
- The baby holds their arm against their body with a bent elbow
- The baby struggles to grip objects
- Circulatory, muscular, and nervous development are affected
- The arm is numb
- The arm is fully or partially paralysed
Gynaecological and obstetric injury Claims
Gynaecological and obstetric injury claims may include claims for any of the following kinds of injuries and issues:
- Damage caused by forceps
- Perineal tears
- Facial paralysis
- Spinal damage
- Lack of oxygen (hypoxia)
- Untreated jaundice claims
Forceps injury claims
When a birth is not progressing as it should, tools such as forceps may be used to deliver the baby. Medical negligence may occur if the medical practitioner does not use the forceps properly. This can cause injury to the mother or the baby. If you have suffered injury through the improper use of forceps by a medical professional, you should speak to a personal injuries solicitor as soon as possible.
Medical negligence that can lead to forceps injury claims may include:
- Poor manipulation of the baby during delivery
- Inadequate response to an emergency situation
- Blunt force trauma to the baby or the mother
- Delay removing the baby from the birth canal due to improper forceps use, placing prolonged pressure on the baby’s body
- Vaginal tear injuries*
Perineal tear injury claims
Perineal or vaginal tears involve a split in the skin and muscles between the vagina and the rectum, usually during a natural childbirth. It is a common occurrence in vaginal births, but it can be caused by negligent medical treatment.
Effects of perineal tear injuries
Women who carry babies weighing more than 8lb or 4kg are more likely to suffer a perineal tear. The risk is also higher during labours in which the second stage happens quickly or when assisted delivery (using a forceps or ventouse) is required.
The injury can cause severe pain to the pelvic and abdominal areas, negatively affecting the bonding between mother and child and increasing the risk of postnatal depression.
Symptoms can be long-lasting and cause serious pain and suffering in a woman’s life. If a woman suffers a perineal tear injury without a clear reason, it may be worth reviewing medical records to see if medical negligence occurred.
Facial paralysis claims
Facial paralysis is one of the most common reasons for childbirth malpractice claims. Facial nerve palsy caused by birth trauma is the loss of voluntary muscle movement in a baby’s face due to pressure on the facial nerve in the face just before or during birth.
If you are considering making a facial paralysis claim, you need to prove that the birth injury was caused by a third party’s negligence. This kind of birth injury can have lasting effects on the child’s quality of life.
Spinal injuries claims
A spinal injury can occur during birth if a medical practitioner damages the baby’s neck by pulling, twisting, or using tools to remove the baby from the birth canal. If damage to the spine before birth goes undiagnosed, this can also cause a spinal injury during delivery.
To make a spinal injuries claim, you should consult an experienced solicitor. They will guide you through the process of establishing liability and pursuing the claim.
Fractured bones claims
Damage from instruments such as forceps or vacuum extractors is the most common cause of infant skull fractures during childbirth.
Rare bone diseases can also result in infant fractures. Among such conditions are osteopetrosis, infantile severe hypophosphatasia, congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, congenital rickets, and congenital cytomegalovirus infection.
To make a claim for fractured bones during childbirth, you will need to establish that the injury was caused by the actions or negligence of a third party.
Lack of oxygen (hypoxia) claims
Hypoxia occurs when a baby doesn’t get enough oxygen to its brain before, during, or after delivery. The condition can cause brain injury, and if it’s not treated properly, it could progress to a permanent disorder, such as cerebral palsy, cognitive deficiencies, or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).
As with all personal injuries claims, you will need to establish that the hypoxia occurred due to the actions or negligence of somebody else.
Untreated jaundice claims
Jaundice is extremely common in newborn babies, but treatment is usually only needed if your baby has high levels of a substance called bilirubin in their blood. Most babies with jaundice will not require treatment because the level of bilirubin in their blood is low. In these cases, the jaundice usually disappears with a fortnight and causes no harm to your baby.
In rare cases, severe jaundice that goes untreated can result in a condition called kernicterus. This is a form of brain damage caused by elevated levels of bilirubin in a baby’s blood. It can lead to athetoid cerebral palsy and hearing loss.
If your baby has become ill due to untreated jaundice, you may be entitled to make a claim.