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A young mum suffered catastrophic brain damage putting her in a coma-like-state for life after a hospital blunder saw her given an unlicensed labour inducing drug.
Nicola Crelling, then 27, was seven months pregnant with her fourth child when medics at West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven, Cumbria, told her the baby had died in her womb.
To induce labour and retrieve the foetus doctors gave Mrs Crelling 2,000 micrograms of misoprostol, a drug designed for treating ulcers.
The huge dose was later estimated to be 32 times the recommended amount by an expert.
Within hours Mrs Crelling suffered a ruptured uterus and a heart attack as fluid from her womb entered her bloodstream and flooded her brain, starving it of oxygen.
She is now so severely brain damaged she cannot walk, talk or do anything for herself and will need full-time care for the rest of her life.
On Tuesday a High Court judge in Preston, Lancashire, approved interim damages of £750,000 after hearing the NHS trust which runs the hospital had admitted it was medically negligent. The final damages award is expected to run into several million for the mistreatment in August 2004.
Bill Braithwaite QC, who acted for Nicola Crelling, has over 20 years experience dealing with catastrophic brain claims. He commented:
“First and foremost I would like to pay tribute to the bravery of Nicola and her family.
“This has been a horrendous ordeal and it has taken far too long to reach a settlement with the other side.
“Misoprostol is not licensed for inducing labour in the UK, nor in America for that matter, because it may lead to catastrophic injury.
“We have been trying to settle this case for over 6 months. The delay has left a catastrophically brain damaged woman lying at home, looked after by her husband and children, in poor conditions.
“There was huge pressure on Nicola’s husband, who had to rely on our assurance that we would win the case – remembering that it was all or nothing, and that nothing would doom his wife to a very limited life.”
“We always felt confident we would win at trial and thankfully the defendants have now accepted 100% liability and settled the case. But it has taken far too long.”
Read Bill’s latest blog at www.billbraithwaite.com