Advising with empathy and experience

Neonatal care failings led to brain injury.

CNCI act for a young boy whose neonatal care fell below standard, causing him to be left with a brain injury and life changing learning difficulties.

After an uneventful pregnancy, the boy's mother gave birth by emergency caesarean section. This was carried out following concerns about the baby's heart rate during delivery.

Initially, the baby appeared healthy, although his birth weight was lower than usual. The paediatric care plan stated that routine care should be given. However, on the day that he was due to be discharged, it was noted that he was not feeding properly. The baby's temperature and blood sugar levels began to drop. His mother alerted medical staff as she noticed that his leg was involuntarily twitching. He was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, where he had several seizures.

Eventually the baby was discharged from hospital. However, he continued to have seizures and involuntary limb movements. He was diagnosed with a neonatal brain injury when he was one year old. He will need to take regular anti-epileptic medication. He still has seizures.  He is behind his peers in terms of his development and has been diagnosed with dyspraxia. He has behavioural difficulties at school and struggles with literacy.

CNCI investigated a claim for the child and found that a catalogue of errors were made in his neonatal care. CNCI identified that the care plan for “routine care” was not appropriate and fell below a reasonable standard of care, given that he was a low birth weight baby. Further, CNCI uncovered failings in the care provided by midwifery staff when his blood sugar levels decreased. Midwifery staff failed to call a paediatrician at this crucial time. CNCI also found evidence that there had been a delay in administering medication when his blood sugar levels fell. It was also argued by CNCI that he should not have been discharged back to the postnatal unit so soon after receiving emergency treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit.

CNCI put the above allegations to the hospital trust. It was alleged that the hospital’s failures led to the child's brain injury and subsequent learning difficulties. The hospital trust subsequently admitted liability. Expert evidence in relation to the child's long term needs has been obtained and a significant financial settlement for hiss future care is currently being negotiated.