Mrs A came to see me after she was told by an occupational therapist that her 7 month old daughter had cerebral palsy. No doctors had told her what was wrong with her daughter despite Mrs A raising concerns with her GP and many visits to accident and emergency when her daughter had “funny turns”.
Mrs A was told later by her daughter’s consultant that she had “a funny arm and leg and if you wanted to call it cerebral palsy then you could”.
Time passed and Mrs A became more and more concerned that her daughter was slow to develop and failed to reach the usual milestones. Her left side was badly affected. More and more mum worried and then she remembered that when her daughter was born she had a little lump on the right side of her head and a tuft of hair growing out of it. Mum remembered also that when she underwent an amniocentesis procedure at 16 weeks pregnancy, the consultant carrying out the procedure had said “I will have to do it again as the baby has put its finger over the needle”.
Was it just possible that the needle had penetrated her daughter’s brain and not the finger, causing the cerebral palsy from which she now suffered?
Amniocentesis is said to be a risky procedure in that it causes miscarriage in between 1% and 2% of tests. But nothing had been published about needles penetrating foetuses.
I set about an enquiry, the medical experts were enlisted to help. I discovered research on this very problem has been carried out at Oxford University. Proceedings were issued in the High Court. The Hospital Trust concerned denied any responsibility and a trial date was set. Four weeks before the trial, the Hospital Trust finally accepted that they were negligent. Yes, the amniocentesis needle had penetrated the brain and caused the damage. By this time, Mrs A’s daughter was 7 years old. Mrs A had had 7 years of not knowing for certain what had happened. She struggled without financial or other help to care for a severely handicapped child. The Hospital Trust refused to make an interim payment to help her daughter’s situation.
A multi million pound settlement was agreed. This money will meet her daughter’s needs for 24 hour care for the rest of her life but it won’t make her better and it won’t make her parents any less angry that the Hospital Trust could have admitted their mistake earlier and have given some form of assistance towards their daughter’s care.
If you think you, or your child, may have suffered an injury as a result of negligent medical treatment and would like to speak with a member of the Lester Morrill clinical negligence team, please call on 0113 245 8549 or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .