Compensation Claim for a Fractured Bone or Broken Bone at Birth

Can you tell me if it is possible to make a compensation claim for a fractured bone or broken bone at birth? My baby was born with a clavicle fracture.

Although it is possible to make a compensation claim for a fractured bone or broken bone at birth, it must first be established that the fracture resulted from negligence of the obstetrician or midwife. While this may appear to be the case if you had an assisted delivery, babies can often be born with broken bones after a difficult birth and the delivery room staff may not necessarily have been negligent.

A broken clavicle is the most common type of bone fracture suffered by babies during childbirth, and it is commonly associated with shoulder dystocia; a medical emergency where the shoulder of a baby becomes trapped and cannot pass through the mother’s pelvis.

An obstetrician may make a decision to deliberately fracture a baby’s clavicle when shoulder dystocia occurs. While this may seem like an extreme action to take, it is preferable to the injuries which could be sustained if the brachial plexus nerves become damaged. Brachial plexus injuries can cause Erb’s palsy; a particularly serious birth injury which can result in permanent disability such as partial paralysis.

If the obstetrician made the decision to break the clavicle to prevent a more serious injury from being sustained, you should have been informed of this at the time; however it is unlikely that an obstetrician would be considered to have been negligent for taking this course of action, and a claim for compensation for a broken bone at birth is unlikely to be possible under these circumstances.

You are right to be concerned about your baby being born with a broken clavicle and to be considering a claim for a fractured bone at birth; and you certainly deserve an explanation as to how the fracture occurred. There are two ways that you can receive an explanation about your baby’s injuries. The first is to write an official letter of complaint to the HSE requesting an explanation of how your baby was born with a broken bone. The HSE will investigate within 30 days of receiving the letter and you are guaranteed a response.

You should also speak with a personal injury solicitor to find out if you are entitled to make a claim for a fractured bone at birth on behalf of your baby. A solicitor will independently investigate the case and will contact the hospital to request an explanation. All doctors and nurses present during the birth of your baby will also be contacted to obtain their version of events and, along with your account, it should be possible to build a picture of how your baby’s injuries were sustained.

After consulting an independent birth injury expert, a solicitor will be able to confirm whether a compensation claim for a fractured bone or broken bone at birth can be made, and you will be advised about the damages which should be recoverable. You can then decide whether it will be worth your while to proceed with a legal claim to recover compensation for a broken bone at birth on behalf of your baby from the hospital/HSE.

This is an Information site only – if you feel you have a potential claim, you should discuss your situation with a solicitor registered with the Law Society of Ireland.