Michelmores has significant experience of paediatric cardiac surgery litigation and partner Laurence Vick was joint lead solicitor to over 100 families belonging to the Bristol Heart Children action group at the Bristol Royal Infirmary Public Inquiry.
Laurence Vick has handled substantial numbers of cases arising from the full range of congenital heart defects on behalf of children who underwent surgery at Bristol and at other child heart units throughout the UK.
These cases have included those in which children have died or suffered neurological and cardiological damage.
What Are Congenital Heart Defects?
Congenital heart defects are problems with the heart's structure that are present at birth. These defects can involve:
There are many types of congenital heart defects. They range from simple defects with no symptoms to complex defects with severe, life-threatening symptoms.
Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect. They affect 8 out of every 1,000 newborns.
Many of these defects are simple conditions. They need no treatment or are easily fixed. Some babies are born with complex congenital heart defects. These defects require special medical care soon after birth.
The diagnosis and treatment of complex heart defects has greatly improved over the past few decades. As a result, almost all children who have complex heart defects survive to adulthood and can live active, productive lives.
Congenital Heart Surgery
Although surgical procedures to correct these defects are complex and often high-risk, it is possible that the circumstances in which the defect has been diagnosed or the management of the surgery itself might give rise to a claim on behalf of the child or the child's estate where the child has not survived surgery.
Children can be left with a range of physical disabilities as well as behavioural, cognitive problems and learning difficulties. When children are on cardio-pulmonary bypass there is a risk of neurological damage even in the safest cardiac units. Certain standards of care in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of these defects must be adhered to and where a child is unfortunate to have suffered neurological damage our task is to demonstrate that this was avoidable and attributable to mismanagement of the treatment, rather than a risk inherent in the surgery in any event.
Laurence Vick has maintained a close interest in the Safe & Sustainable Review of paediatric cardiac units and has also recently been instructed in a number of new cases arising from apparent mismanagement of treatment and surgery at Bristol Childrens Hospital. These cases and our involvement has been widely reported in the press.