Cerebral Palsy and Medical Negligence: A Quick Overview

Medical negligence cases can run the gamut from relatively minor, if still unpleasant and damaging injuries, to serious and potentially life-threatening ones. Equally, negligence can occur at any stage during the treatment of a condition – from the initial diagnosis, through the actual medical treatment received, to any aftercare a patient is provided with.

One of the most difficult areas of medical negligence is that which relates to injuries or illnesses suffered by children as a result of failures in standards of medical care. An example of this is the potentially permanent injuries that a child can incur during the birth procedure.

One of the more common types of condition that a child can develop as a result of failures in the birthing procedure is cerebral palsy. This is an incurable condition caused by head injuries to the child during the act of delivering the baby. One case in which a child developed such a condition following problems during the birth led to the award of £7 million in compensation.


In this case the hospital trust was sued after the child developed hypoxic ischaemic brain injury due to the failure of the physician responsible for the birthing procedure to expedite this correctly. The defendant accepted the charge of negligence, acknowledging that the brain injuries endured by the child were entirely avoidable had the correct treatment been carried out. It was accepted that a CTG trace prior to the delivery of the baby had indicated obvious and clear abnormalities, but that – despite this evidence – there had been no attempt made to expedite the delivery.

The size of the damages awarded in a case such as this recognise not only the injury to the child and the pain and distress both to child and parents, but also the on-going costs of providing the necessary care to ensure that the child has the best quality of life possible.