Trust sorry for errors that ledto birth tragedy
A HEALTH trust has apologised to a family after a baby was left blind in one eye and brain-damaged when hospital medical staff made a catalogue of errors during a routine birth.
Xavier Cutillo’s eyeball was detached from its socket and his skull fractured by the misuse of forceps during his delivery at Scunthorpe General Hospital in December last year.
The youngster will never get the sight back in his left eye and his parents, 22-year-old Emma Portogallo and Daniel Cutillo, 23, will have to wait years to see what effect the damage done to his brain will have on his development, according to the family’s lawyers.
A spokesman for Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said a full investigation and review had been carried out into the incident which led to Xavier’s injuries, and staff also met the family shortly after the birth to discuss the delivery.
He added: “A number of changes to policy and practice have been implemented to ensure any risk of the circumstances being repeated are minimised. In particular, staff training has been extended and increased in frequency.
“We are extremely sorry for the distress caused to the family and would reiterate that our priority remains the safety of all women and babies at Scunthorpe General Hospital’s maternity services.”
Miss Portogallo was admitted to hospital on December 21 last year. She had a long labour and staff tried to deliver the baby by suction cup, known as a ventouse delivery. When the first attempt did not work the doctor treating her tried a further seven times to deliver the baby the same way, despite advice that no more than three attempts should be made using this method.
When this method failed again, Miss Portogallo was taken from the delivery suite to the operating theatre and given an epidural, but staff did not tell her about what was happening, or about any of the associated risks of the procedure.
According to the family’s lawyers Russell Jones and Walker, Miss Portogallo felt “severe tugging” as doctors tried to deliver her baby using forceps.
When her son was finally delivered his eyeball was hanging out of its socket and resting on his cheek.
Later that day Xavier, who is now nine months old, was admitted to Sheffield Children’s Hospital so emergency surgery could be performed on his eye, where he was also diagnosed with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.
Miss Portogallo said: “My son will have to live with the consequences of this for the rest of his life. The whole experience has been extremely traumatic for both me and Xavier’s father Daniel; we’ve been left physically and emotionally traumatised.”
She said it was not yet known if he would ever be able to see out of his left eye and they would have to wait and see how he developed.
“Having a baby is meant to be one of the happiest days of your life but for us it was a complete nightmare.”
James Bell, a partner at Russell Jones and Walker, said the couple were seeking compensation so they can cover any future medical costs Xavier may need.
He added: “The doctors failed to inform Emma of their treatment plan and failed to obtain consent for a forceps delivery.
“Emma was made to sign a consent form agreeing to a forceps delivery after the birth whilst she was in the recovery room in a state of shock. This is completely unacceptable practice.
“My clients were treated appallingly by the NHS trust concerned who have still not said what steps are being taken to discipline or re-educate the doctor who delivered Xavier.
“Such action has to be taken if the public are going to have confidence in NHS maternity services.”