Cephalohematoma Compensation Claims

Cephalohematoma

What is cephalohaematoma?

Cephalohaematoma in newborns, is a condition whereby an accumulation of blood occurs in the space between the periosteum and skull of a baby.

A baby who has suffered a cephalohaematoma may have a small or large lump on their head, depending on the extent of the injury.  Large amounts of blood can result in a hard, lump-like mass.  If there is a smaller deposit of blood, the lump will be squishy, as though someone has put a water-filled balloon under the baby’s scalp.  Both scenarios can result in parental worry and distress.

Is it dangerous?

Fortunately, most cases of cephalohaematoma in newborns do not result in serious complications and no treatment is required to remove the swelling.  It will simply calcify and be reabsorbed back into the body, causing no pain or distress to the infant.

However, cases of cephalohaematoma must be closely monitored.  A primary cause for concern would be any indication that the cephalohaematoma is a symptom of a skull-fracture or head trauma.  There is also a potential risk of complications leading to cerebral palsy and other developmental disorders developing in a small number of cases.

What causes cephalohaematoma?

Cephalohaematoma are often caused by the use of birthing tools such as forceps or a ventouse.  The risk can be increased if the labour is long and difficult, the baby is big and/or in a distressed birth position or if the mother has a small pelvis. Small tears in the veins just under the baby's scalp can cause blood to collect in the area, forming a lump.

What are the symptoms of cephalohaematoma?

The main symptom of cephalohaematoma is a small to medium size swelling at the top of the head.  Although this can look uncomfortable, the swellings are completely benign and do not cause newborns any pain.

What complications can arise from cephalohaematoma?

Newborns with cephalohaematoma are at risk of developing complications such as jaundice, infection and anemia. 

Jaundice

Because the babies blood needs to replace lost red blood cells, cephalohaematoma can lead to jaundice.  Infants with jaundice may have yellow skin and eyes which is a sign of high bilirubin in the blood.  In most cases, jaundice clears up without intervention, but sometimes treatment is necessary.  If this is not provided, the baby can in rare cases develop cerebral palsy, hearing loss and/or brain damage.

Infection

The reason doctors do not attempt to drain a cephalohaematoma is because of the risk of infection.  There is also the risk of an abscess developing.  If health professionals do drain a cephalohaematoma without full consultation and a very good reason for doing so, they may be in breach of their duty of care.

Anaemia

If your baby losses a lot of blood due to the cephalohaematoma he or she may become anaemic, necessitating a blood transfusion.

Can I claim compensation for cephalohaematoma?

If your newborn’s cephalohaematoma was caused by negligence on the part of medical staff, then you may be able to claim compensation.  An example of negligence would be if health professionals present at the birth excessively delayed the use of assisted birth delivery tools, or if they were used, used by inexperienced person or in an incorrect manner.

How much compensation will I get?

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on the seriousness of the cephalohaematoma, and the long-term harm caused by cephalohaematoma complications.

How do I make a claim?

Firstly, you need to instruct an experienced  medical negligence solicitor, who will listen to your case and establish whether or not you have grounds to make a claim in negligence.  The team at IBB Claims can assist you with evaluating whether or not you have a chance to claim compensation.  We understand that infant cephalohaematoma can be distressing and you can be assured we will evaluate your case in a sensitive, compassionate manner.

What is the process of making a claim?

If we establish that you do have grounds to make a claim in negligence for your baby’s cephalohaematoma, we will need to gather medical evidence to prove that:

  1. the health professionals involved in the birth of your child owed you a duty of care;
  2. they breached this duty; and
  3. their breach caused cephalohaematoma to occur

We will conduct an in-depth interview with you to establish the full sequence of events that occurred during your pregnancy, labour and immediately after the birth.  We will contact any witnesses and examine your baby’s medical records and history.  An independent medical examination may be required. We will also consult expert witnesses to help prove your newborn’s cephalohaematoma was caused by medical negligence.

How long with the process take?

It depends on the complexity of your case.  However, as a rough guide, most medical negligence claims are settled within 18-30 months.

Will I have to go to court?

A vast majority of claims settle before a final court hearing. 

How much will it cost to make a claim?

At IBB Solicitors we provide ‘conditional fee arrangements’, otherwise known as ‘no win, no fee’.  This means that if your claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay any legal fees to our solicitors.

You can further protect yourself by taking out insurance to cover the other side’s costs if the court orders that you must pay the other side’s costs.

We will fully explain all your options to you when we meet.

How to obtain compensation for a birth injury to mother or baby

If you would like further information on making a compensation claim for your baby’s cephalohaematoma please call our office on 0333 323 1637 or email enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk.