UK Family Wins £4 Million After Medical Errors Cause Daughter's Serious Brain Injury
The recent case of a girl in the United Kingdom highlights the serious harm that can come from birth injuries caused by preventable medical errors. Earlier this month, Hollie McDowall’s family was awarded £4 million ($6.46 million) by the High Court to compensate them for her serious brain injury, attributed to mistakes made by the hospital where she was born, University Hospital Coventry.
Back in 2005, after an uneventful pregnancy, Hollie McDowall’s mother, Maryellen, arrived at the hospital on April 18 with contractions. The hospital monitored the baby’s heart rate, and claimed that except for some initial drops in the heart rate, everything appeared to be normal. Maryellen’s contractions continued during the night, and the fact that she had not felt Hollie move since the previous evening left her anxious. Twenty-four hours after Maryellen McDowall first arrived at the hospital, she was in extreme pain and distress, and the baby’s heart rate continued to drop. Doctors were alerted, but failed to show up.
Finally, at 8:33 p.m., Maryellen had a vacuum-assisted delivery after the
baby’s heart rate had dipped to dangerous levels. Hollie was finally
born, but “floppy” and pale, and not breathing. Although she
was resuscitated and taken to a neonatal unit for further care, she had
suffered a serious brain injury due to oxygen deprivation.
As a result, Hollie has cerebral palsy, and at eight years old, cannot communicate, walk, or sit independently. Her vision is also limited, and she suffers from periodic seizures. Caring for her is a full-time duty, though her family receives some help from night-time carers.
University Hospital Coventry has admitted to negligence and the NHS Litigation Authorities has agreed to pay £1.7 million ($2.74 million) up front, as well as annual payments throughout Hollie’s life to cover the cost of the carers. University Hospital Coventry’s chief medical officer has vowed to review procedures so they can learn what exactly went wrong during Hollie’s birth. One change that has been implemented is that all women admitted to the delivery ward with a complicated pregnancy must be reviewed by an obstetrician, and a labor management plan is agreed to and documented. Also, staff now have mandatory trainings on electronic fetal monitoring and fetal blood sampling.
However, Maryellen McDowall remains skeptical that the hospital has learned its lesson, and that it should do more to assure the public that it has taken appropriate steps to change its behavior.
Although this case took place in the UK, it could very easily have happened in the United States. Those in the U.S. whose children have suffered a brain injury likewise have the option of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and its staff. In Maryland, a minor has the option of filing up until the age of 21. If you or your child suffered a brain injury due to preventable medical error during birth, contact a Baltimore birth injury attorney to discuss your options.
Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt has more than 100 years of collective experience dealing with medical malpractice and birth injury cases. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the firm represents residents in Maryland and Washington, D.C. If you have a birth injury or other medical malpractice issue, contact us today for a free consultation.