Stephen Loraine (a child by his mother and Litigation Friend Pauline Loraine) v Wirral University Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust [2008] LTL 28.07.08

Claimant suffered from cerebral palsy caused by fetal asphyxia, sustained when his mother suffered profound placental abruption shortly before his birth. Claimant was the fifth child in the family with his four siblings all born in the same hospital. During the mother’s third pregnancy a fibroid in the uterine wall was detected and recorded. The practice in Defendant hospital was to rely on the patient identifying potential problems and only retrieving files if it appeared they might be material.

When the mother booked in for Claimant’s birth, no mention of the fibroid was made. At 37 weeks, a scan identified the baby was in the breech position. The mother was not admitted but told to return in event of spontaneous rupture of her membrane. Three days later the mother woke at 0245 hours with substantial bleeding. She was taken to hospital by ambulance and the Claimant was born by emergency Caesarean section at 0358 hours. Defendant admitted that had the Claimant been born by 0338 hours he would have been uninjured.

Claimant brought a claim for his personal injury, alleging negligence for failure to diagnose presence of fibroid prior to his birth and not admitting the mother after 37 week scan.

Held: The system in the hospital was flawed and had exposed the mother to avoidable risk. Defendant should have retrieved the records. Had they been examined, the doctor would have been able to enquire as to presence of fibroid and whether it caused an obstruction. In light of the history, a prudent consultant would have admitted the mother to be kept under observation. The time taken for the mother to be transported to hospital could have been saved and Claimant would have been born before 0338 hours and intact.