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Wrongful birth claims can arise where a prospective mother is not properly informed of the fact that her child will be born with a significant birth defect, and if she had been properly informed she would have chosen to terminate the pregnancy.
The Clinical Negligence Team have specialist understanding of the sensitive issues that are associated with wrongful birth claims and will work with you and your family to deal with these and achieve an outcome which can provide necessary support for the additional costs of your child’s upbringing in respect of their care, health and wellbeing needs. For more information you can consult our free resource on wrongful birth.
Fabian and his family have had their lives transformed by an award of compensation of £3million.
In rare cases healthcare professionals can fail to diagnose a birth defect during usual antenatal pregnancy checks and scans, despite the significant technological advances that are now able to assist with antenatal healthcare.
A claim for wrongful birth is therefore a claim in which (1) a hospital has failed to warn you that your child may be born with a disability; and (2) if you had been warned, you would have chosen to terminate the pregnancy.
The sorts of physical and mental defects that a child can be born with include:
• Spina Bifida
• Limb reduction defects
• Heart defects including holes in the heart
• Down’s Syndrome
These are only intended to be examples. It is possible that other kinds of defects can be overlooked when they ought to have been identified. You can find out more about wrongful birth here.
To bring a claim for wrongful birth we must prove that you were denied the opportunity to terminate the pregnancy due to the negligent failure of the healthcare professional or team involved to inform you that your child may be born with a birth defect such as those mentioned above and, that if you had been properly advised, you would have terminated the pregnancy.
An action or a failure to act amounting to negligence in a claim of this kind could be a failure to accurately interpret scans and test results, carry out necessary screening tests, properly inform you of the results of those tests or make a diagnosis from clinical signs during pregnancy. This may be due to faulty equipment or lack of training and our experienced team will be able to advise you whether or not you have a claim.
Whatever the negligent treatment, diagnosis or advice received, bringing a claim can assist with the costs of caring for your disabled child.
Compensation in wrongful birth claims includes compensation for the mother relating to pregnancy and childbirth but also aims to provide for the additional costs associated with bringing up a disabled child over and above the costs of raising a non-disabled child, in particular the associated financial impact of their specific welfare and healthcare needs.
The level of compensation will vary from case to case depending on the severity of your child’s disability and also on the level of care and support they need as they are growing up. Please see our recent cases for examples.
Simon Elliman, Partner in the Clinical Negligence Team, represented Mrs V after doctors failed to warn her that continuing her pregnancy was risking her health and that of her unborn child.
An ultrasound taken during Mrs V’s pregnancy was sufficiently abnormal that it should have led to further investigations, which in turn should have led to Mrs V and her husband being given the opportunity of terminating the pregnancy for the sake of both mother and child.
As a result of the complications during her pregnancy Mrs V’s son was born with severe disabilities and now needs constant care and assistance. Following the settlement the family now have peace of mind that their son’s care needs can be provided for now and in the future. Since receiving the award the family have moved into a suitably adapted family home which allows him to be involved with his family all over the house now that he can get around in his wheelchair without difficulty.
Kerstin Kubiak, Partner, acted for Mrs Williams, whose son James was born missing both of his upper limbs and suffering from other related genetic disorders. The hospital failed to diagnose on a routine ultrasound scan, when James was a fetus, that his upper limbs were missing.
Had they done so Mrs Williams would have been advised that he was also likely to suffer from a genetic syndrome and would have been offered a termination of pregnancy, which she would have accepted.
Mrs Williams was therefore able to claim for the additional costs of raising a disabled child. James needed a lot of extra help at home and at school so that he could live his life to the full and be as enabled to be as independent as possible.The compensation allowed Mrs Williams to purchase a new family home, adapted to meet James’ needs and to purchase the specialist equipment he needed.
Simon Elliman, Partner in the Clinical Negligence Team, acted for Miss P following negligent treatment during her pregnancy.
Miss P became pregnant despite a history of complications with her reproductive system. Throughout her pregnancy she was admitted to hospital on numerous occasions with bleeding and complaining of pain, swelling in her tummy and constipation. Various tests and scans were carried out and she was reassured that there should be nocomplications.
Labour was induced and then continued for three days but no progress was made. Eventually a caesarean sectionwas performed due to the failure to progress. During the caesarean section the surgeon identified that her baby was in fact ectopic (outside of the uterus) and the placenta had become fused to Miss P’s bowel. The surgeons were required to cut away a significant section of her bowel, remove her uterus and one of her ovaries and form an ileostomy. Following the surgery she wore a colostomy bag for five years before having to undergo surgery to reverse the colostomy. Unfortunately she will also be unable to have any more children.
A claim was brought on the basis that the ectopic pregnancy should have been diagnosed from scans undertaken during pregnancy and, if it had been, Miss P should have been advised to terminate the pregnancy early on due to the significant complications she would encounter and the risk to her life in continuing with the pregnancy. It was extremely fortunate that Miss P and her baby survived the pregnancy and labour, and thankfully the baby suffered no injury. The defendant hospital admitted liability and the case settled out of court for £90,000.