This article was published on September 28th, 2017
NHS Resolution reviewed 296 compensation claims and found that cases of catastrophic birth injury resulting in babies sustaining serious brain injuries have almost doubled since 2012, and such cases have cost the NHS £2 billion in compensation and legal fees.
The report stipulates that there are serious errors made by individual midwives and doctors when carrying out medical procedures.
These failures include incorrectly monitoring heart rates and displaying a lack of knowledge and training when delivering breech babies.
The report also highlighted that the quality of the investigations by the hospitals after such events, was poor and that 60% of investigations are carried out without the involvement of the child’s parents.
Author of the report, Dr. Michael Magro, said:
“These incidents are very rare, however, every case presents an opportunity for learning in order to improve the safety of maternity care.”
“Where families can, and are, willing to participate in investigations, they bring a unique perspective and invaluable insight as to what went wrong.”
“We recommend that serious incident investigations should not be closed unless the family have been actively involved throughout the investigation process or else have explicitly confirmed that they do not wish to be involved.”
Commenting on the report, Professor Zarko Alfirevic, co-lead investigator on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Each Baby Counts programme said:
“The emotional cost to each family is incalculable and we owe it to them to properly investigate what happened and ensure the individuals and the healthcare trusts involved take the steps needed to learn from these incidents and avoid these tragic incidents occurring again.”
The news comes in the wake of coroner’s warning earlier in the year that newborn babies were dying and suffering serious injuries because doctors and midwives were unable to carry out the correct checks and procedures.
NHS Resolution’s report discovered that overall, statistically, rates of serious injury related to childbirth had barely changed in the last 20 years, despite previous promises to improve parent and child safety during childbirth.
Obstetric negligence: the facts
Overall, obstetric negligence cases accounted for approximately 10% of the 10,686 claims handled by NHS Resolution’s indemnity schemes in the past year.
Claims relating to cerebral palsy have increased by 81% since 2004 and in the last 12 months, have cost the NHS £1.9 billion.
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