It was recently reported that the amount of compensation paid out in NHS maternity negligence claims has risen by tens of millions of pounds since 2006.
Rise In NHS Maternity Negligence Payouts
Figures released by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) identified that the compensation paid out in cases where a cardiotocogram (CTG) trace hade been misinterpreted had risen from £11.8 million in 2006 to £85.8 milion in 2010. CTG traces are used to monitor a baby’s heart rate whilst its mother is in labour.
The NHSLA further broke down the figures to show that it dealt with 130 such cases between 2006 and 2010. Of these cases 78 babies died and 43 developed cerebral palsy as a result of being deprived of oxygen due to a mistake with the CTG trace. It was reported that the increase in compensation payouts reflected a greater understanding of the injured baby’s future care needs and an increase in settled cases.
It was reported that midwives and obstetricians accepted that change was needed. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives will be launching a new electronic fetal monitoring project. It is hoped that this will improve doctors and midwives understanding and interpretation of CTGs and as a consequence outcomes for babies will be better. The Department of Health confirmed that it was working with professional bodies to ensure ongoing education and training of those working in obstetrics.
These reports highlight how negligence cases can initiate change in the NHS. Expert evidence obtained in medical negligence cases can identify how things could and should have been done differently to prevent avoidable injury. The NHS will usually have sight of such evidence and as a consequence may take action to prevent such situations occurring again.
How Can Nelsons Help?
If you have any questions in relation to the subjects discussed in this article, then please get in touch with a member of our Medical Negligence team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.