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Negligence at Trust led to otherwise avoidable brain injury – High Court

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Negligence by medics at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (DBTH) contributed to an otherwise avoidable brain injury at birth in 1998, a High Court judge has ruled.

As reported by the BBC, Elisha Woods, 25, was starved of oxygen before her birth at Bassetlaw District General Hospital in Worksop, Nottinghamshire.

A High Court judge has ruled that she would have avoided the brain injury if staff had not delayed inducing her birth when her mother Julie’s amniotic fluid leaked two weeks earlier.

The injury has caused complex behavioural difficulties during Woods’ life and the ruling will pave the way for “substantial” compensation to cover her continuing care needs, her solicitors said.

Representing the Woods family, David Thomas, of Switalskis Solicitors, told reporters: “It has been a long and challenging journey for the family to finally get justice for Elisha.

“Whilst nothing will ever make up for the injuries that Elisha has sustained because of the failings in her care, this judgment paves the way for us to now bring a claim for compensation on her behalf, which will help to fund her ongoing care needs and provide her with some financial security for the rest of her life.”

Dr Nick Mallaband, acting executive medical director for the NHS trust, said: “Whilst this particular delivery occurred in 1998, we will carefully review this judgment and consider any improvements and learning that can be applied to our present service.

“We, as a trust, accept the court’s ruling and extend our sincere apologies to the claimant and her family.

“The standard of care provided fell short of what they were entitled to expect.”

Woods was born in a “poor condition”, with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and a low heart rate.

She was pale, motionless and was transferred to a specialist baby care unit and given emergency oxygen, the BBC reports.

Her mother Julie, 51, launched legal action in 2017 over concerns about her care in the two weeks before Elisha was born.

The court heard she had visited the hospital due to leaking amniotic fluid on September 28, 1998.

Cardiotocography (CTG) monitoring indicated that Mrs. Woods’ baby experienced tachycardia, an abnormally high heart rate, for over two hours. Despite this, the court was informed that a senior doctor misinterpreted the CTG results, deeming the heart rate normal, and subsequently discharged Mrs. Woods.

Mrs. Justice Lambert received additional evidence suggesting that the doctor should have repeated the CTG and conducted further tests and investigations the following day.

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