Medical Negligence

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£725,000 compensation to mother whose son was injured in tug of war with midwife

View profile for Malcolm Underhill
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A woman has been awarded a three-figure sum in compensation after negligent medical care during the birth of her son left him with a permanent disability. The mother – who hasn’t been named – described how one of the midwives looked as though she was in a ‘tug of war’ whilst trying to deliver the baby. 

“A violent pull”

Doctor and patient

In July 1999, the woman attended the William Smellie Maternity Unit at Law’s Hospital to give birth to her baby boy. Initially, a student midwife at the hospital attempted to deliver the boy - known only as C. The student, Lynn Kerr, was unable to undertake the delivery as she had found complications, with it discovered that the cord was wrapped around the baby’s head. She called for assistance, with Sister Rosemary Murphy coming to her aid.

Speaking of her recollections of the moments leading up to the baby’s birth, the woman told the Court of Session in Edinburgh how Lynn Kerr looked “panicked” as the baby’s head appeared. She then recalled hearing the student being told to attempt to maneuver the cord from around C’s head, before Sister Murphy took over trying to deliver the infant. 

The woman reported that Sister Murphy stood back, apparently in thought, before taking a step forward and performing a “violent pull”. She said it looked as if Sister Murphy was taking part in a “tug of war”, despite the student midwife saying words like “it’s not moving”, “it’s not happening” and looking visibly stressed. The mother reported still being told to push, despite the difficulties she was experiencing. 

Severe injury leaving the child disabled for life

The baby suffered a severe brachial plexus injury to his right side, with the court finding that the injury was a result of negligent treatment by Sister Murphy. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that run from the spine and are responsible for the innervation of the upper limbs. C suffered serious damage to his right shoulder, leaving him disabled for life.

Delivering her reserved judgment, Lady Rae of the Court of Session said there was sufficient evidence to say that Sister Murphy had acted wrongly and negligently. She ordered the Lanarkshire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust to pay £725,000 in damages to woman and her son. She stated:

"I am satisfied that in course of his birth, C suffered a severe brachial plexus injury to his right side as a result of the negligence of the defenders' employee Sister Rosemary Murphy and for whom the defenders are responsible.

Sister Murphy failed to recognise an obstetric emergency after the student midwife had been unable to deliver the body of C after delivery of his head; she failed to summon help in accordance with the protocol in existence as at July 1999.”

How to obtain a compensation payout for hospital negligence during childbirth and care of a baby

If you want to enquire about making a compensation claim for negligence associated with pregnancy, childbirth and maternity care, please contact one of our maternity and childbirth claims solicitors on 0333 123 9099. 

Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the medical negligence and the injuries sustained to and one of our team will be able to help you.

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