Maternity Errors Resulting in Birth Injury

Various clinical situations can lead to maternity claims for clinical negligence. The NHS Litigation Authority's statistics show that maternity claims account for the highest value and the second highest number of claims under the clinical negligence scheme for Trusts. By the end of March 2011, more than 13,000 obstetrics and gynaecology claims had been notified to the NHSLA.

Claims can arise as a result of failure of management of labour by a Medical Practitioner, failure to properly interpret the CTG trace and/or proceed to a caesarean section promptly and/or properly manage a labour which can result in a child suffering cerebral palsy. Other claims include:-

  • Delays in delivery;
  • Failure to consider a caesarean section or perform or extend the episiotomy;
  • Failure to diagnose the true extent and grade of the injury including failure to perform a rectal examination;
  • Perineal tears third and fourth degree;
  • Anaesthetic errors;
  • Retained placenta;
  • Injuries to organs from caesarean sections or failing to recognise damage at the time;
  • Errors in managing pre-eclampsia;
  • Incorrectly performed episiotomies.

These may also involve birth injuries to babies where medical mistakes in labour or delivery occur. These include the following:-

  • Fractures to the skull, legs, arm, shoulder and collarbone;
  • Hip dysplasia;
  • Brain injury;
  • Cerebral Palsy;
  • Cuts and scars.

The most serious of maternity errors such as the failure to monitor the progress of labour can have drastic consequences. Legal claims in cases such as those where a child has suffered cerebral palsy will include compensation to cover the additional cost to the parents of bringing up a disabled child in addition to rehabilitation, adaptations to the home and necessary aids and equipment.