Kernicterus Compensation Claims Solicitors
While jaundice is fairly common in new-born babies (affecting approximately 6 out of every 10), the condition usually resolves itself within a couple of weeks as the baby's body develops and more effectively regulates the breakdown of red blood cells. However, in approximately one out of every 100,000 cases, high levels of bilirubin in the blood can cause Kernicterus, which can be a serious and potentially life-changing condition if left untreated.
If medical staff fail to manage jaundice effectively, families may be able to file a kernicterus claim if this more serious condition develops as a result.
No amount of compensation could ever make up for the emotional, physical and mental anguish that kernicterus and jaundice negligence can inflict on parents and families, but a successful claim can account for some of the financial struggles and alleviate some stress in other areas of the lives of those affected.
If you and your baby have been the victims of medical malpractice, you have the right to hold those responsible accountable.
To find out:
- if you could have a claim
- whether you could make a claim on behalf of someone else
- how much you could be entitled to
- and what your next steps are
Get in touch with an expert solicitor with experience in handling kernicterus claims.
Why choose us?
Since 1997, our medical negligence, accident, and personal injury law firm has worked hard to help our clients achieve the best possible outcomes.
Our team at SDS Solicitors has a wealth of first-hand experience consulting with, advising, defending, and advocating for our clients, many of whom have sadly had to experience medical negligence and have made kernicterus claims.
Though we are based in Manchester, England, we work with clients from all over England and Wales to determine whether they have a claim and guide them through the claims process.
To find out if you might be one of them, call us free at the number at the top of this page, or simply fill out our contact form, and one of our expert team members will get back to you as soon as possible.
What is kernicterus?
Kernicterus is a severe form of jaundice, which is a fairly common ailment in new-born babies. The underlying cause is an excess of bilirubin in the baby's blood due to the high number of red blood cells in their system and the limited function of a still-developing liver in processing their breakdown.
Hyperbilirubinemia occurs when babies have abnormally high levels of bilirubin in their bloodstream. In these rare cases, there is a risk that bilirubin will cross the blood-brain barrier and cause damage to the brain or central nervous system.
Kernicterus is now extremely rare in the United Kingdom. Thanks to medical advancements, it is largely preventable if medical staff follow the appropriate safety guidelines and procedures.
Kernicterus is a 'never event,' which means that it should never occur with proper medical care. If a new-born baby develops jaundice, his or her bilirubin levels should be checked. If the bilirubin level in their blood rises quickly or exceeds safe levels, the baby must be treated with phototherapy (light therapy) or an exchange blood transfusion if the condition does not improve or is severe.
Therefore, if your child has developed the condition, it is possible that medical malpractice on the part of healthcare professionals played a role, and you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
To learn more about what your next steps might be, get in touch with one of our experts today.
What are the symptoms of kernicterus and hyperbilirubinemia in infants?
There are many symptoms of kernicterus. The sheer number of potential warning signs, combined with the fact that they can range in their severity, means that medical professionals (who, if following the proper protocols, should be monitoring for these signs) should be able to spot the warning signs relatively soon.
A few of the most common symptoms of kernicterus and hyperbilirubinemia are:
- Jaundice signs and symptoms (yellowness in the skin is the most common).
- Muscular stiffness and uncharacteristic limpness (hypotonia)
- Inability to properly feed
- Ignorance of surroundings
- Lethargy and fatigue
Some other, more serious symptoms that may emerge as kernicterus progresses include seizures and arching of the neck and/or back.
Of course, all of these symptoms can cause great emotional distress for the parents and family of the child. The longer that the baby goes without their symptoms being spotted, correctly diagnosed and then treated, the worse their symptoms may get.
At SDS Solicitors, we know that watching your child go through such traumatizing events can be devastating. That’s why we work hard to achieve the best possible results for our clients.
If you believe that your child has experienced harm that could have been avoided if the healthcare team had reacted in a timely and appropriate manner to their kernicterus symptoms, then you could be entitled to compensation. To learn more, get in touch with one of our experts today by calling the number at the top of this page or filling out our contact form.
Can kernicterus be treated?
The sooner that kernicterus is treated, the more likely it is that the child can make a good recovery.
The goal of treatment is to lower the amount of unconjugated bilirubin in a baby's body before it reaches levels that cause kernicterus, which causes brain damage.
Phototherapy, or light therapy, is commonly used to treat babies with high bilirubin levels. The baby's bare body is exposed to a special light during this treatment. The light accelerates the breakdown of unconjugated bilirubin in the baby's body.
Babies with extremely high levels of bilirubin may require a blood exchange transfusion. The baby's blood is removed gradually during this procedure. The blood is then replaced with matched donor blood.
If this process is completed in a timely manner, the level of bilirubin should decrease.
What are the long-term implications of kernicterus?
If a doctor fails to detect jaundice in a new-born baby, it can result in significant brain damage. This can have long-term consequences for your child, such as:
- Uncontrollable twitching
- Issues with maintaining "normal" eye movements, so the child may gaze upwards or from one side to another
- Cerebral palsy
- Hearing loss
- Learning difficulties
- Misshapen, discoloured or weak teeth
How does jaundice or kernicterus negligence occur?
Medical personnel are well trained in dealing with jaundice and preventing it from worsening. As a result, cases of kernicterus should be avoided – and if they do occur, you may be able to seek medical negligence compensation.
There are several instances where medical staff failures may have resulted in poor care, providing grounds for a jaundice (kernicterus) claim:
- Where babies thought to be at higher risk of the condition, such as (and especially) premature babies, are not effectively monitored by healthcare staff after the birth.
- When there is insufficient attention paid to a rise in the baby's bilirubin blood levels.
- When appropriate treatment is not administered following the discovery that your baby has abnormally high or rapidly rising bilirubin blood levels.
While these are some of the most common reasons for filing a medical negligence compensation claim for jaundice and kernicterus, they are not an exhaustive list of all potential scenarios.
Kernicterus can be easily avoided by treating your child's jaundice before it worsens into more serious conditions. If you suspect your child has jaundice, medical professionals must monitor them and provide treatment to address the bilirubin surge if your prediction is correct.
Even though jaundice is common in babies, the chances of it progressing to kernicterus are extremely low. Midwives are responsible for monitoring a baby's condition and taking the necessary steps to treat jaundice as soon as possible. When jaundice is detected early enough, it can be easily treated with a course of phototherapy. If this is not done in a timely manner and there are further developments, they may be held liable for the child's injuries.
If you believe your baby may have developed kernicterus as a result of medical malpractice, or if they have suffered as a result of poor kernicterus care, you should consult with an expert legal advisor as soon as possible.
Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to their patients and a duty of care. No one should have to see their child suffer harm which could have been avoided had their medical team acted appropriately.
To find out what your next options are, including whether you could have a claim and what you could be entitled to, get in touch with one of our experts today.
How do you know if you have a claim?
To determine whether you have a claim, how much you may be entitled to and what your next steps should be, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor who has handled cases similar to yours.
Our expert team at SDS Solicitors has a wealth of experience in assisting victims of medical negligence in obtaining the compensation they rightly deserve.
We can provide you with the best legal advice - and if we determine that you may be entitled to compensation, we can also assist you in filing a claim.
Get in touch with us today to find out if you or someone close to you could be entitled to compensation.