Large Sum Awarded in Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Case

Many cerebral palsy cases can trace their origins to medical malpractices during the delivery process. While the hospital may lose a substantial amount of money following a lawsuit, nothing compares to the lifetime conditions children like Nathan Humphries will face.

The Case of Nathan Humphries

Nathan, a boy from Staffordshire, in the UK, was born on April 27, 1998, with both cerebral palsy and epilepsy at the North Staffordshire Hospital. Because of his condition, Nathan’s ability to move and speak was impaired. Nathan is confined to a wheelchair. During the time of delivery, his mother, Beverley, suffered from an eclamptic fit, which is a severe seizure. The incident was undetected by the midwives and Nathan was deprived of oxygen, which led to the brain injury.

After Beverley suffered from another eclamptic fit, Wendy Rowley, Beverley’s sister-in-law and another midwife, noticed the oddity and determined the malpractice at Nathan’s birth. The family took the case to court, and while the hospital board apologized to the family for the substandard birth, it took over a decade until the hospital finally admitted to liability and set up the payout.

The Malpractice

The midwives of North Staffordshire Hospital were specifically liable for two neglectful behaviors during Nathan’s birth:

  • Failure to check on Beverley’s blood pressure during the birth process
  • Failure to hold a continuous cardiotocography (CTG) check, which would have detected Nathan’s distress at birth

According to medical experts, if the medics had used a caesarean section to speed up Nathan’s birth, he could have been spared from the brain injury that led to his cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia by mere minutes.

Payout and Treatment

The High Court approved the payout of a total of eight million pounds (almost $13 million in United States currency), one of the highest amounts ever awarded by the court. The money will start with the lump sum payment of three million pounds. The hospital will distribute the remaining money for the rest of Nathan’s life expectancy, which was calculated as around 67 years of life, and will index-link the money to account for inflation. According to Nathan’s parents, they will use the money to purchase a home that is better equipped for Nathan’s cares and needs, as well as any additional treatments he will need.

According to Beverley, Nathan is loved by all, but it does not change the fact that he will never “be able to do the things that other boys his age take for granted, such as playing sports or computer games.” Nathan will also never have an independent life and will have to rely on others for basic tasks.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Nathan’s cerebral palsy was specifically caused by deprivation of oxygen due to his mother’s epileptic fit. There are also plenty more causes of cerebral palsy and other conditions created by brain damage at birth. Some of these causes and risk factors for cerebral palsy include:

  • Infection in the mother
  • Infection or inflammation in the newborn
  • Lack of oxygen for the baby
  • Lack of blood flow for the infant
  • Mother’s pre-existing condition
  • Consumption of drugs or alcohol by the mother
  • Injury via excessive force or forceps
  • Certain genetic conditions
Preventing Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy has no permanent cure and is not always avoidable. The mother can always reduce some of the risk factors involved with cerebral palsy by taking preemptive actions such as:

  • Treating pre-existing medical conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure, infections, etc.)
  • Avoiding toxic substances such as drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and other environmental pollutants
  • Obtaining shots against diseases before pregnancy
  • Avoiding sources of stress as much as possible
  • Consulting with a doctor in case of any concerns or doubts
  • Practicing healthy habits such as a healthy diet and exercise

Medical practitioners can also prevent brain injuries through attentive procedures, particularly during birth. Some of these procedures include:

  • Using various methods of monitoring such as auscultation and electronic fetal monitoring to keep continuous track of a baby’s heart rate during the delivery process
  • Keeping visuals on baby continuously to look for physical signs of a distressed birth, such as abnormal positions and the umbilical cord
  • Having medical professionals available at any time that can monitor the baby’s heart rate
  • Checking the baby for any abnormalities after birth, such as jaundice
  • Using extraction tools such as forceps carefully to avoid applying pressure to the baby’s head
Taking Legal Action

Medical staff cannot always prevent cerebral palsy, despite all efforts. Cerebral palsy is a costly condition for the entire family, but if parents believe that their child’s condition was caused by a preventable cause during delivery, they should contact a lawyer specializing in cerebral palsy to discuss the next steps toward a settlement with the hospital.