Court approves settlement for child born with developmental dysplasia of the hips

NG was discovered to be in a breech presentation in utero and her mother underwent a successful external cephalic version to turn her, at 37 weeks gestation. NG was born on 13 September 2007 and her hips were stated to be normal at a newborn examination. She did not undergo any follow up tests at the hospital, such as an ultrasound scan of her hips, despite being in the high risk group for developmental dysplasia of the hips due to her breech presentation. There was an 8-month check up with the health visitor and nothing was picked up, although she had a more prominent crease on her right hip.

NG’s parents later reported to her GP that she was waddling when she walked and an ultrasound scan was requested. This led to a diagnosis of bilateral developmental dysplasia of the hip, at 26 months of age.

Expert evidence confirmed that NG ought to have undergone an ultrasound scan of her hips in the first few weeks after her birth and that this would have shown hip instability and/or dislocation. It is likely that non-surgical treatment would have been successful and NG would have developed normal hips without any long-term concern. If NG’s condition had been picked up after her 8-month check, treatment at that stage would have led to normal development of her hips without any long-term concern.

Following her diagnosis NG underwent bilateral open reduction and femoral osteotomies. She required a further femoral osteotomy in her right hip in January 2013 and had two further operations to remove metalwork.

An expert in orthopaedic surgery advised that NG would require a repeat osteotomy by the age of 14 and that she would develop osteoarthritis at a younger age than usual, requiring hip replacements and hip revisions sooner than she would have needed, if she had had normal hip development. It was also considered that she should avoid a career relying on long periods of standing or walking, climbing or high impact activity involving her lower limbs.

Liability was admitted in the Letter of Response in relation to failure to carry out a 6-week ultrasound scan, and an offer was made by the Defendant Trust to settle the claim, in June 2015. This was rejected and NG’s claim was quantified. A round table meeting took place in June 2018 and the case settled for a figure in excess of £300,000. In the approval hearing, in December 2018, anonymity was granted.

Dr Mala Sidebottom, one of our experienced clinical negligence solicitors, who was instructed in the case said, ‘I am delighted that NG has settled her case for a sum that should enable her to access any care and treatment that she needs and to fully move on with her life.’