In a recent UK birth injury case JRM v Kings College Hospital Foundation Trust  EWHC 1913 (QB) arising from the misuse of forceps, the claimant, father of the baby, established liability against the hospital. The trial judge was very critical of the management of the case by the Defendant. JRM was born at King’s College Hospital on 28 February 2009, one of twins. His mother went into labour when the pregnancy had only gone into 29 weeks. Sadly, his brother died a fortnight later. JRM, who was delivered by forceps, suffered serious injury to his spinal cord around the time of his birth, resulting in four limb paralysis.
The Facts of this Medical Negligence Case
The Claimant issued Civil Proceedings on behalf of JRM. He claimed that that there was a delay in the delivery, failure to note the elevated CRP (C-Reactive Protein) on the mother’s blood test result and that she was producing offensive liquor. It was also alleged that the obstetrician negligently used the forceps when JRM was in the occipito-lateral (OL position).
It was agreed by both the father and the hospital that there were two possible causes of the injury: either that the forceps were used negligently in the OL position or that the injury was caused by an embolus. The hospital maintained that the mother had been in an occiput anterior (OA position). The injury could not have been caused had JRM been in the OA position.
The court found that the mother had been in the OL position and it followed that the injury JRM had sustained was consistent with the use of excessive force and negligent use of forceps. Had the obstetrician examined the mother properly, he would have found that JRM had been in the OL position. The bruising to the JRM’s face, head and body and the hospital’s records was used as evidence in support.
The Judge’s Findings on the Forceps delivery
The judge found for the Claimant. Had the obstetrician examined the baby properly he would have found he was in the OL position. His use of forceps to a baby in the OL position increased the degree of force needed. JRM was delivered with excessive force with forceps in the wrong position. Misuse of forceps and the mode of delivery adopted by Dr M caused the injury.
In fact, the judge was very critical of the doctor`s evidence, noting: His evidence was unequivocally that the baby’s presentation was OA, and that he had checked that. Given the fact that there is substantial evidence that the baby was actually in an OL position, that must undermine his credibility as a witness, which is already severely damaged by his insistence that nothing occurred in delivery to account for the bruising seen on the baby, save for its nose. Under the circumstances, I reject his evidence as not credible.’
The thorough examination of medical notes is critical in Medical Negligence cases. In this case the judge found that the obstetrician`s evidence was inconsistent with evidence about the nature and extent of bruising contained in the medical records. Early retrieval and examination of medical notes in cases of suspected Medical Negligence is crucial.
For further information on Medical Negligence Claims contact:
Morgan McManus Solicitors
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