Childbirth is an intensely emotional experience. It is also the time of greatest joy for a mother. However, when there is negligence involved on the part of doctors and midwives, injuries could occur at the time of childbirth and this could be dangerous, both for the mother and the child. The consequences of negligence on account of a medical team could be disastrous and life changing for a family. Midwives and hospital staff generally provide high standard of care during childbirth but when procedures do not get followed properly or if there is a breakdown in communication, the consequences are tragic for the mother and the child.
On many occasion, doctors and midwives are negligent in identifying arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in a foetus. There may not be very clear symptoms until the AVM ruptures. This could cause complications if not handled properly as it may result in haemorrhage in the brain. Few pregnant women may have severe symptoms on account of changes in blood pressure and in blood volume. A vein of Galen defect is a severe kind of brain AVM and it will have symptoms that can show up right after birth. It causes the fluid to build up in the brain, causing the head to swell. It may also result in symptoms similar to a stroke, causing numbness and loss in vision.
When you go through such experiences, you have to be aware that there are solicitors in the United Kingdom who have extensive experience in handling cases of negligence and a birth injury claim. In such cases, it is always wiser to contact such solicitors and make sure that you get full support and the rehabilitation that is needed, regardless of the nature of the claim.
There are complex medical and legal issues involved when pregnancy and birth injuries result in severe disability. It is important to seek support in such difficult times. Solicitors can help you understand if you have a case towards a claim for compensation on account of medical negligence, regardless of whether an injury took place in private clinics or in an NHS facility. You will be advised by medical negligence experts on how you could go about claiming compensation. They will brief you on the entire claims process, time constraints and they will also indicate how good your chances of claims would be. There are various organisations that offer rehabilitation and representation in cases of birth injuries due to negligence of a medical team. You will be able to get additional information here, http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/complaints-and-feedback/Pages/nhs-complaints.aspx, if a mother or her child were injured during the stage of pregnancy or childbirth on account of medical or clinical negligence.
Merit Tests for Birth Injury Claims
Legal aid in connection with medical negligence claims will be limited to neurological birth injuries of a serious nature such as cerebral palsy that may have occurred within one and a half month of the birth of the child. There is a means or a merit test in order to qualify for legal aid in connection with birth injury claims. This test justifies the proper investigation of a particular case. Once the claim gets qualified, you will be able to receive sufficient funding for the initial investigation. Subsequently, you will also get legal aid for the entire representation once your case is taken on by the solicitors. Expert lawyers will be able to talk you through several funding options that may be accessible to you.
Various Funding Options for Legal Aid
When new born babies get injured on account of medical errors during labour and delivery, it is wiser not to waste time in getting the best legal advice in relation to birth injury claims.
Justice has to be accessible to one and all, regardless of a person’s status in society in terms of standing and wealth. Once you have gone through a case of medical negligence during childbirth, you may have a valid concern if you do not have the necessary financial means to make that claim; funding will be a big help to take care of that problem and will also enable you to access compensation which you rightly deserve.
These are the five means with which you could have your legal case funded –
- Legal Aid
- Legal Expenses Insurance
- No Win No Fee
- Private Funding
- Trade Union Funding
What happens when you make a birth injury claim?
Once you contact a team of solicitors or organisations, you can expect initial consultations without charge. You case could get discussed and you would be able to ascertain on whether you have an authentic legal claim. Once the case is accepted, the team of solicitors would contact all the people responsible for negligent treatment at a very early stage. They will help establish that the perpetrators are responsible for your condition and they accept the blame. Once they accept negligence towards their responsibility, it is possible to secure compensation payments in the interim; this becomes a big help towards funding or private medical attention and the ongoing expenses before your claim is settled in full. Medical negligence claim experts will evaluate the actual care that you should have received and they also determine the future implications on your health.
In a majority of cases, solicitors would attempt and negotiate all claims out of court in order to keep the claiming process as short as they possibly can. If the people involved with negligence do not agree with the compensation amount that you claim, then court proceedings could be started against them. Even after some trial dates are set, claims could still be settled before reaching the courts. Many of the solicitors’ cases get funded with a No Win No Fee kind of agreement. In such cases, there is no financial risk to you when you make a compensation claim. It always helps when you have Legal Expenses Insurance or when you are covered by trade union policies. Legal expenses insurance gets included in several household insurance policies. It is worth checking on whether you are already covered.
What are the time constraints or limits when you want to make a claim?
In many cases of medical negligence, you are allowed a period of three years for makiing birth injury claims. The period begins from the date of the injury or the date that you first became aware that the injury was a result of medical negligence. In the case of children, the three-year period commences on their eighteenth birthday; so, you have time till they are twenty one years of age to make that claim.
There is no time limit set for all those people who have serious mental difficulties and this applies particularly to cases of cerebral palsy. So, if you did not happen to make a claim for loved ones with cerebral palsy within the prescribed time limits, you could still initiate a claim with solicitors at any later date.
It has to be remembered that you will have to prove a direct link between negligence by medical staff and the injury to the mother or child in order to make a successful claim for compensation.
Some Examples of Birth Injury Claims that have been honoured
- Mistakes while suturing tears or episiotomies
- Episiotomies gone wrong
- Perineal tears of the third and fourth degrees
- Retained swabs
- Anaesthetic errors
- Injuries to various organs as a result of Caesarean sections or failure to recognise damage at a particular time
- Errors while managing pre-eclampsia
- Cerebral Palsy – It occurs when the brain of a child does not get enough oxygen before or during childbirth. This is a stage of hypoxia. It could also lead to facial paralysis, spinal injuries and fractured bones.
- Brain injuries
- Fractures to the legs, skull, arms, shoulder or collar bone
- Cuts and scars
- Hip dysplasia
- Failure while performing CTGs when monitoring the heartbeat of the babies and ignoring the changes
- Delays during carrying out of instrument deliveries when using ventouses or forceps
- Delays while performing Caesarian section
There are several treatment options available for AVMs or arteriovenous malformation and the choice of treatment largely depends on the likelihood of subsequent hemorrhage. If the AVM is small in size and arterial feeding pressure is high along with a history of a previous hemorrhage makes a patient more eligible for one of the treatments discussed below.
This type of medical therapy is more suitable to control seizures that often appear as the first symptom of a brain AVM. Medicines like phenytoin, valproic acid, and carbamazepine are mostly prescribed for these patients. Those who have an AVM but never had a seizure are given treatments other than anticonvulsants.
Patients who have been diagnosed with an AVM are told to closely monitor the onset of headaches. Acute onset could be an indication of impending hemorrhage, but if there is no risk of intracranial hemorrhage the patients are told to manage headaches by using analgesics or pain killers prescribed for migraines.
If an AVM is surgically accessible and is small in size, it is advisable to get rid of it through surgical intervention. A conventional approach is usually employed if there is a low risk of complications. Spetzler-Martin grading system is usually used to determine if conventional surgery would be an appropriate treatment choice. AVMs of grade IV and V are not responsive to surgery; whereas, grade I and II AVMs are usually the most reasonable candidates for surgery.
Small AVMs are more likely to burst and cause bleeding in the skull. If they are less than 3cm in diameter, a procedure called radiosurgery is usually recommended for their treatment. There are three types of radiosurgery procedures currently in use;
– Proton beam
– Linear accelerator
– Gamma knife
These methods are used to give radiation to the location where the AVM is found. It is important to safeguard the surrounding healthy brain tissues from these powerful radiations. Patients, who have already gone through another procedure called embolization, are usually not treated with radiosurgery because the process becomes even more difficult in such a case than it already is.
This treatment is used to block the high-speed blood flow from high-pressure arteries to veins because there are no capillaries to slow down this stream. It is done by delivering various thrombosing agents into the AVM nidus, which include acrylate glue, onyx liquid embolic fluid, or thrombus-inducing coils. It is recommended to use the multi-stage approach for safety and long-term effectiveness.
Why is it Important to Get Treatment?
Treating AVMs is important to minimize the risk of a hemorrhage, which can be life-threatening. Moreover, people who experience regular signs and symptoms of brain AVMs, such as headaches and seizures as well as some psychological disorders and personality changes, can get relief from these conditions if they undergo surgery for the removal of AVM or choose another treatment option to improve the quality of their life. Also arteriovenous malformation can be dangerouse when it comes to driving.
Can AVMs be Prevented?
AVMs cannot be prevented as their cause is still unknown to doctors. The lesions are present at birth, means they are congenital; however, not hereditary. Although there is no way to prevent them, one may take precautionary measures to minimize the risks associated with a brain or spinal AVM and to get relief from some of the symptoms that affect the overall health of the patient. Prevention is possible with early diagnosis and therefore if you experience any of the common signs of a brain or spinal AVM, it is strongly advised to undergo one of the imaging or scanning tests to diagnose an AVM and devise an appropriate treatment plan.