Home / Insights / Blog / Newborn sustains brain haemorrhage as doctors failed to give vitamin K injection: £7.3m compensation awarded

Newborn sustains brain haemorrhage as doctors failed to give vitamin K injection: £7.3m compensation awarded

Newborn sustains brain haemorrhage as doctors failed to give vitamin K injection: £7.3m compensation awarded

London’s High Court has approved a £7.3 million compensation payment to a young man who suffered a brain haemorrhage after doctors failed to give him a vitamin injection on birth. The injection could have protected the man from haemorrhagic disease of the newborn, also known as vitamin K deficiency bleeding.

Doctors failed to offer the mother the choice of the injection

Judge Michael Yelton, sitting in the High Court in London, has awarded a 25-year-old man compensation for the injuries that he sustained following a brain haemorrhage he suffered shortly after birth. The young man, who Judge Yelton described as a “vulnerable person”, meaning he cannot be named, has been left with significant cognitive and physical problems following the haemorrhage.

The man’s mother attended the Luton and Dunstable Hospital in 1989 to give birth to her son. Despite it being a mandatory requirement, doctors did not offer the mother the option for her child to receive a Vitamin K injection, nor was she told of the importance of it.

In the UK, new parents should be asked if they would like their newborn babies to receive a supplement injection of Vitamin K. The vitamin helps the blood to clot and can help prevent internal bleeding and whilst most babies are born with just high enough levels to prevent any problems, some babies are at a greater risk and are more like to suffer the rare, but serious, haemorrhagic disease of the newborn (HDN).

Almost half of all babies with HDN suffer a haemorrhage into their brain and this often results in brain damage. Babies with liver disease, and those who were born after 37 weeks of pregnancy and delivered using forceps, ventouse or caesarean where bruising occurs, are at an increased risk of the vitamin deficiency. However, it is difficult to correctly ascertain which babies at an increased risk and the injection is controversial, as research has linked it to the development of childhood leukaemia. As such, the Department of Health recommends that all babies receive the supplement soon after birth, with doctors required to explain the risks to parents, but stress the importance of it.

Brain haemorrhage in child results in significant brain damage

The 25-year-old’s mother was not offered the injection by the medics who attended the birth. She left hospital, only to return three months later as her son was displaying cold-like symptoms, a high-pitched cry and a squint – symptoms that were then found by a CT scan to be the result of an internal haemorrhage. The bleed caused significant brain damage, leaving the young man disabled. Physically, he suffers a weakness on his left side, with reduced hearing. He also lacks the mental capacity to manage his own affairs and needs round the clock care.

The settlement was reached after the Secretary of State for Health admitted liability, accepting that the failure to offer the injection was a breach of the NHS’ duty of care. The £7.3 million figure is made up of a lump sum of £2,345,000, accompanied by annual tax free payments of £181,000, rising to £192,000 a year for the man’s lifetime. The money will be used to pay for specialist support and 24-hour care, along with specially adapted accommodation.

Approving the settlement, Judge Yelton said he was “very pleased” for the young man and his family, commenting that he was “entirely satisfied” that the settlement was in his best interests.

Compensation claims for hospital negligence associated with pregnancy, child birth and postnatal care

You are entitled to expect a certain standard of treatment from those providing medical assistance to you. If this treatment falls below standard you may be entitled to recover the cost of the private medical treatment needed to correct the failings on the part of those originally treating you.

If you want to enquire about making a compensation claim for negligence associated with pregnancy, child birth and maternity care, please contact one of our medical negligence lawyers on 01895 207835 or 01895 207295. 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 PI@ibblaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you.