Difficult childbirths are not uncommon and normally the skills of medical staff ensure that all ends well for mother and child. However, when the care they receive is inadequate and this results in or exacerbates injury to mother or child, compensation will be payable.
A recent personal injury case arose after an assisted delivery in which a baby girl was pulled from her mother's birth canal using forceps and a device known as a ventouse cup. This is a small cup, with a handle, that fits over the back of the baby's head and is attached to a suction device. The midwife or obstetrician pulls gently on the handle to help deliver the baby.
It was later discovered that the baby had sustained severe spinal cord injuries. The family claimed that this was a result of the ventouse cup having been wrongly inserted and medical staff using excessive force when pulling the child.
The hospital trust denied that its staff had been negligent, but the claim was settled on the basis of 50 per cent liability. The agreed settlement amounted to more than £5.8 million.