Medical Negligence

Perinatal Asphyxia: Making a Compensation Claim

May 15, 2024
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This comprehensive guide is designed to assist families navigating the complexities of making a compensation claim for perinatal asphyxia. This article aims to provide a clear understanding of what perinatal asphyxia entails, including its causes, consequences, and the legal avenues available for seeking justice and compensation. We understand that dealing with such a challenging situation can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve compiled this resource to offer support and guidance every step of the way. Whether you’re seeking information about your rights or need assistance in pursuing a claim, we’re here to help you through this process. 

What is perinatal asphyxia and what causes it? 

Perinatal asphyxia, also known as birth asphyxia, occurs when a newborn doesn’t receive enough oxygen before, during, or immediately after birth. This lack of oxygen can lead to serious complications and even permanent brain damage if not promptly treated. Several factors can contribute to perinatal asphyxia, including problems with the umbilical cord, placenta, or uterus during labour, complications with the baby’s airway, such as meconium aspiration or umbilical cord compression, and issues with the mother’s health, such as high blood pressure or infections. Other risk factors, such as premature birth, prolonged labour, or foetal distress, can also increase the likelihood of perinatal asphyxia occurring. 

Understanding the medical basis of perinatal asphyxia 

Perinatal asphyxia can affect newborns both physiologically and neurologically. According to Seattle Children’s Hospital, when a newborn experiences oxygen deprivation, vital organs such as the brain, heart, and lungs may not receive adequate oxygen supply, leading to cellular damage and dysfunction. The lack of oxygen can cause a cascade of events, including, impaired blood circulation, and compromised lung function. The NHS say that without prompt intervention, this can result in, seizures, organ failure, and even death. Timely intervention is critical to minimise the extent of brain injury and improve outcomes for the newborn. Immediate resuscitation efforts, such as providing oxygen therapy and ensuring proper ventilation, are essential in restoring oxygen supply and preventing further damage. Additionally, therapies such as hypothermia treatment, which involves cooling the baby’s body temperature to reduce brain inflammation, have shown promise in mitigating the long-term effects of perinatal asphyxia. Early recognition and intervention are crucial in maximising the chances of a positive outcome for newborns affected by perinatal asphyxia. 

The consequences of perinatal asphyxia 

Perinatal asphyxia can have both short-term and long-term consequences on a child’s health and development, impacting various aspects of their life. In the short term, infants affected by perinatal asphyxia may experience immediate complications such as respiratory distress, seizures, and difficulty feeding. These initial challenges often require intensive medical intervention and monitoring to stabilise the newborn’s condition. However, the effects of perinatal asphyxia can extend far beyond the immediate postnatal period, leading to long-term developmental delays, cognitive impairments, motor disabilities such as cerebral palsy, and behavioural issues. Children who have experienced perinatal asphyxia may face challenges in reaching developmental milestones, learning disabilities, and difficulties with social interactions. Additionally, the neurological damage caused by perinatal asphyxia can have lifelong implications, impacting the child’s quality of life and requiring ongoing medical and therapeutic support. Families of children affected by perinatal asphyxia may encounter significant emotional, financial, and practical challenges as they navigate the complexities of caring for a child with special needs. It’s essential for affected families to access comprehensive support services and resources to address both the immediate and long-term consequences of perinatal asphyxia. 


Source: National Library of Medicine 

The impact on a child’s development and family life 

Perinatal asphyxia may affect a child’s physical, cognitive, and emotional development, posing significant challenges for both the child and their family. Physically, perinatal asphyxia may result in motor impairments, such as cerebral palsy, affecting the child’s ability to move and perform daily activities independently. Cognitive development may be impacted, leading to learning disabilities, developmental delays, and challenges with memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. Emotionally, children affected by perinatal asphyxia may experience difficulties with self-regulation, emotional expression, and social interactions, potentially leading to behavioural issues and mental health concerns. The emotional toll on the family can be substantial, as parents may grapple with feelings of guilt, grief, and post-traumatic stress disorder while navigating the complex needs of their child. As mentioned above, the financial strain of caring for a child with additional needs, including medical expenses, therapy costs, and specialised equipment, can further exacerbate the challenges faced by the family. It’s essential for families to access comprehensive support services and resources to address the complex impact of perinatal asphyxia on both the child and their loved ones. 


Medical negligence and perinatal asphyxia  

 Medical negligence can play a significant role in cases of perinatal asphyxia, potentially causing contributing to or exacerbating the condition. Failures in medical care during pregnancy, labour, or delivery can increase the risk of oxygen deprivation to the newborn, leading to perinatal asphyxia.  


Identifying negligence in birth injury cases  

  Medical negligence in the context of perinatal asphyxia can be defined by healthcare providers failing to adhere to the standard of care expected in similar circumstances, resulting in harm or injury to the newborn. Examples of medical negligence may include failure to monitor the foetal heart rate during labour for signs of distress, failure to promptly intervene when signs of foetal distress are detected, improper use of delivery instruments leading to birth trauma, or failure to provide timely resuscitation following birth. Additionally, inadequate prenatal care, such as failure to identify and manage maternal conditions that increase the risk of perinatal asphyxia, can also constitute grounds for a birth injury claim. It’s important to recognise that each case is unique, and determining medical negligence requires a thorough examination of the specific circumstances and actions of healthcare providers involved.  


Legal options for your family  

Families affected by perinatal asphyxia may have legal grounds to seek compensation for the harm and losses suffered. Compensation can be claimed for various factors whether that is costs of rehabilitation (such as physiotherapy, speech and language, occupational therapy etc), Gratuitous care or loss of earnings, each claim has its own unique complexities, and the final compensation settlement will reflect this.  


Understanding compensation claims for perinatal asphyxia  

Families may have the right to claim damages for medical expenses, future care and rehabilitation costs, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. In cases where medical negligence has resulted in permanent disability or wrongful death, families may also pursue compensation for long-term care needs, loss of companionship, and funeral expenses. Legal avenues for seeking justice and compensation can provide families with the financial support needed to access specialised medical care, therapy, and support services, helping to mitigate the lifelong impact of perinatal asphyxia on both the child and their loved ones.  


Finding a birth injury solicitor  

When selecting a solicitor to handle a birth injury claim related to perinatal asphyxia, it’s crucial to prioritise expertise and experience in handling such complex cases. Look for solicitors who specialise in medical negligence claims, particularly those with a proven track record of success in perinatal asphyxia cases. Specialist knowledge in this area is essential, as these cases often involve intricate medical evidence and legal complexities that require a thorough understanding of both medical and legal principles. Additionally, consider factors such as the solicitor’s reputation, communication style, and willingness to provide personalised attention to your case. Choosing a solicitor with the right expertise and dedication can significantly enhance your chances of achieving a successful outcome and obtaining the compensation you deserve for the harm and losses suffered due to perinatal asphyxia.  


The importance of specialist legal support  

Working with solicitors who specialise in birth injuries and have a proven track record in securing compensation for perinatal asphyxia offers numerous benefits for families navigating such challenging circumstances. These solicitors possess specialised knowledge and expertise in this complex area of law, enabling them to provide tailored advice and guidance specific to perinatal asphyxia cases. With their experience, they can effectively navigate the legal complexities involved, including gathering evidence, liaising with medical experts, and negotiating with the defending party on behalf of the family. Moreover, solicitors with a successful track record in securing compensation for perinatal asphyxia understand the unique needs and concerns of affected families, offering compassionate support and advocacy throughout the legal process. By entrusting their case to experienced birth injury solicitors, families can have confidence in pursuing their claim and achieving a fair outcome that addresses the harm and losses suffered due to perinatal asphyxia.  


How to make a perinatal asphyxia claim  

The birth injury claim process involves several crucial steps:  


  1. Initial Enquiry: Once you submit your enquiry, our specialists will gather information about your experience and its impact on you, allowing us to gain a thorough understanding of your situation. 


  1. Case Evaluation: Our team of medical negligence experts will carefully assess your case to determine its suitability for a claim. Drawing upon our expertise, we will provide prompt advice based on our evaluation. 


  1. Retrieval of Medical Records: If your case meets the necessary criteria, we will request your medical records from your GP, and all hospitals involved in yours and your child’s care. Additionally, we will initiate the collection of evidence to support your claim. 


  1. Medical and Expert Assessment: An independent report will be commissioned to evaluate whether there was a breach of duty resulting in your injuries. Furthermore, our experts will assess the repercussions of your injuries on your life. 


  1. Negotiation: We will engage in negotiations with the responsible party to seek compensation for your expenses, rehabilitation costs, and future damages. In case negotiations are unsuccessful, the court may intervene to determine appropriate compensation. 


  1. Compensation: Upon successful negotiation, your compensation will be secured, providing you with the resources to move forward from your injuries and towards recovery. 


Preparing your case  

To support a perinatal asphyxia claim, various documentation and evidence are crucial. Firstly, comprehensive medical records detailing the prenatal care, labour, delivery, and postnatal care are essential. These records provide insight into the events leading up to and following the birth, including any indications of foetal distress or complications. Additionally, expert testimonies from medical professionals specialising in perinatal care can offer invaluable insights into the standard of care expected in similar situations and whether there were deviations from it. Experts will then be able to provide an opinion as to whether those failures or deviations has caused or contributed to an injury to your child. Other supporting evidence may include witness statements from healthcare providers present during the birth, imaging studies, such as foetal monitoring strips or imaging scans, and any documentation of interventions performed during labour and delivery. Gathering and presenting this documentation and evidence is vital in establishing the negligence and pursuing rightful compensation for the harm and losses suffered due to perinatal asphyxia. 


Choosing Fletchers Solicitors for a perinatal asphyxia claim 

In navigating the complexities of perinatal asphyxia compensation claims, Fletchers Solicitors stands as a trusted partner dedicated to supporting families every step of the way. With our extensive expertise and experience in handling birth injury cases, including those involving perinatal asphyxia, we are committed to providing compassionate and knowledgeable guidance throughout the claim process. Our team of specialist solicitors understands the challenges families face in seeking justice for their loved ones and is dedicated to advocating tirelessly on their behalf. At Fletchers Solicitors, we prioritise the well-being and best interests of our clients, ensuring they receive the support, care, and compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has been affected by perinatal asphyxia, trust Fletchers Solicitors to fight for your rights and help you secure the justice and compensation you need to move forward. 

Our commitment to your family’s future 

At Fletchers Solicitors, our dedication extends beyond securing compensation—we are committed to securing the best possible outcome for each family affected by perinatal asphyxia. We understand that every aspect of the child’s future needs to be considered in the compensation claim. Our team works tirelessly to ensure that all current and future medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and other essential needs are addressed. With our unwavering commitment to our clients’ well-being and future, we strive to provide comprehensive support and advocacy, empowering families to move forward with confidence and peace of mind. 

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