Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire. 1992;

Leverick F Counting the Ways of Becoming a Primary Victim: Anderson v Christian Salvesen Plc. Edinburgh Law Review. 2007; 11:258-264

RE and others v Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust. 2017;

Symon A Plus ça change… Problems with memory, and the importance of documentation (again). British Journal of Midwifery. 2016; 24:(3)222-223

Damages awarded for ‘nervous shock’ at a birth

02 June 2017
Volume 25 · Issue 6


Claiming compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from a birth experience is unusual. Andrew Symon provides an overview of a recent case

A recent court case heard a claim by a baby's mother and grandmother for damages relating to ‘nervous shock’ following a birth complicated by dystocia (RE and others v Calderdale, 2017). To claim such damages, an injury must have been directly caused by a traumatic incident that occurred because of someone else's negligence. To succeed, the claimants had to establish that the midwives and/or medical staff had been negligent during the birth of a baby who suffered a significant hypoxic ischaemic insult.

The case was hugely complicated by a series of mishaps and errors relating to the clinical case records. In the first place, the defendant NHS Trust destroyed the original records after the legal claim had been raised. Digital copies had been made, but these proved less than ideal:

‘The integrity of the records cannot be guaranteed. The photocopies, some of which are in colour and some in monochrome, are not of good quality for forensic purposes and there are puzzling differences between some of the copies of the original documents and the digitised version’

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