Exposing negligence is important

Posted: 20th May 2019

SurgeryFor many victims of medical malpractice, exposing serious instances of negligence can be just as important as winning compensation. In a case on point, the High Court found that a doctor used excessive force during a baby boy’s forceps delivery and that his conduct fell far below the professional standard expected of him.

The boy was the first of twins to be born, but his sibling sadly only survived for about two weeks. In a double tragedy for the family, the boy suffered grave spinal damage during his delivery, leaving him paralysed in all four limbs. He needed a ventilator and a tracheostomy to survive and requires around-the-clock care.

After proceedings were launched on his behalf against the NHS, the Court found that the excessive traction used by the doctor was compounded by his misuse of the forceps after he misjudged the baby’s position in the womb. The force used was sufficient to cause severe bruising and the Court was highly critical of the NHS’s failure to admit liability, thereby putting the family through the trauma of a lengthy and vigorously contested trial.

Following the judge’s decision, a final settlement of his claim was negotiated. The NHS agreed to pay him a £5.1 million lump sum, plus index-linked annual payments to cover the costs of his care. Those payments will start at 763,500 euros a year, until he reaches the age of 19, thereafter rising to 789,000 euros a year for the rest of his life. The periodical payments were agreed in euros because the boy and his family are intending to move to a Eurozone country imminently. The Court approved the settlement.