Emma’s mother had no antenatal issues, except for suffering from severe symphysis pubis diastasis, or severe pain in the pelvic area which left her largely incapacitated. Labour was scheduled to be induced in July 2001. Prior to this, the clinic performed a membrane sweep. Later, Emma’s mother became concerned about the reduction in foetal movements, which had been normal previous to her visit to the clinic. The mother was examined by a midwife, who noted that there was some blood in the mother’s urine, but no other problems. However, CTG traces were seen to be abnormal, with reduced reactivity of the foetal heart.
That evening, an Obstetric Registrar was requested to conduct a review, but he did not attend until over an hour later. Emma’s CTG Traces and heartbeat were noted to have remained irregular and abnormal, but a C-Section was not performed, because the Registrar incorrectly asserted that the CTG traces did not continue to be abnormal. This resulted in a prolonged period of bradycardia. After Emma was delivered, she did not show initial signs of severe asphyxia, however, it is noted that she quickly became uninterested in feeding and she was transferred to the neonatal unit for nasogastric tube feeding. She was also noted to be quiet, to have no rooting reflex and incomplete motor reflex.
Emma has severe mixed athetoid/dystonic and spastic cerebral palsy involving all four limbs, with a bulbar palsy, microcephaly, learning difficulties, behavioural problems and epilepsy. MRI scans show damage within her brain consistent with the severity of her presentation.
Neil Fearn, of Pryers Solicitors, was instructed to investigate the claim. Expert evidence suggested that the CTG traces were suggestive of a degree of hypoxia, that the Obstetric Registrar took too long to attend to the mother, and that a C-Section should have been performed.
Another expert also argued that Emma’s initial symptoms suggested a classic presentation of a baby with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy sarnat stage 2.
The case was settled in 2016 for a lump sum of £1,125,000, and periodical payments of £100,000 per annum from age 19, for life.