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Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) Claims

Birth-related medical negligence can have a serious impact on the life and well-being of your child.

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I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much

Mrs E.Swaffield
Loughborough

Claiming for retinopathy of prematurity

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a disease that affects the eyes of newborn – in particular, premature – babies. During normal foetal development, the eyes and retinas do not develop fully until the very end of pregnancy. Therefore, premature birth can sometimes mean that an infant’s retinas are underdeveloped or have otherwise developed abnormally. Alternatively, oxygen toxicity – a common side effect of the treatments used to save premature babies – may also lead to ROP. Once found, the condition can be rectified by laser treatment. However, delayed diagnosis or non-diagnosis of ROP will often lead to retinal detachment and eventually blindness

Since premature birth is known to be a common cause of ROP, premature babies are usually screened approximately once a month, either until the condition is detected or until normal retinal development kicks in. Thankfully, this means the appropriate diagnosis of ROP normally happens fairly quickly. Unfortunately though, sometimes premature babies are not monitored as closely as they should be because of inadequate aftercare.

If you believe that your child has suffered negligent medical care during the diagnosis or treatment of ROP, you may have a claim. With a wealth of specialist knowledge about medical negligence cases, we can provide advice, support and guidance throughout the claiming process. There are no upfront fees or payments, so talk to Your Legal Friend today for more information.

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Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of medical negligence cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a birth injury case.Retinopathy of prematurity claims team

That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our medical negligence team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high-value medical negligence cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation.  Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7-year-old and £4 million for an 11-year-old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006.  Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

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The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan

Director of Medical Negligence

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10 simple steps to claim

Step
1
Obtaining your medical records
Step
2
Providing your statement of what happened
Step
3
Minimising your loss
Step
4
Establishing that a breach of duty occurred
Step
5
Estabilishing the effect of the breach of duty
Step
86
Preparing your case for CourtCalculating the value of your claim
Step
7
Proving your loss
Step
68
Calculating the value of your claimPreparing your case for Court
Step
9
Attending the trial in Court
Step
10
Awarding your compensation claim

Your questions... answered

What is retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)?

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) – sometimes called ‘baby blindness’ – is a condition affecting more than half of all babies who are born prematurely or are underweight at birth.

While most babies will only have a mild form of ROP and not require treatment, around 6% of premature babies will develop an advanced stage of ROP, which will require treatment and can result in blindness.

Abnormalities may only become apparent at a late stage. So it is vital that a doctor, nurse or practitioner examines a premature baby’s eyes every week for the known stages of development of ROP.  If this is not done, your baby has received sub-standard treatment.

A delayed diagnosis and treatment - can cause serious complications and lead ultimately to a permanent loss of vision.

If you have reason to believe that your baby was at risk of ROP but was not provided with appropriate care for any of the reasons below, you may have grounds to pursue a claim for clinical negligence.

  • A failure or delay in diagnosis
  • A failure to carry out appropriate monitoring
  • Improper use of oxygen following birth
Read less

Why does ROP affect premature babies?

An unborn baby’s retina - the light-sensitive surface at the back of the eye) has no blood vessels until after the 16th week of pregnancy. The blood vessels continue to develop from the centre and only reach the edge of the eye one month after birth. If a child is born prematurely:

  • The blood vessels can grow abnormally causing damage to the retina and impair vision.
  • The incomplete retina is vulnerable to oxygen damage.

To function properly, the retina needs a constant supply of blood to provide oxygen. If a baby is born early and the development of the blood vessels is incomplete, there will be areas of the retina that will not receive enough oxygen.

An insufficient oxygen supply triggers chemicals to produce new but fragile blood vessels, which leak blood and cause scarring. If left undiagnosed or untreated, the vessels can pull the retina out of position and affect a baby’s ability to see, eventually becoming completely detached and causing permanent blindness.

Read less

How is a premature baby monitored for ROP?

A doctor, nurse or clinician should be monitoring a premature baby’s eyes for advancing stages of ROP, as follows:

Stage ONE: The outer part of the retina shows mild changes clearly marked by a flat white line dividing the abnormal area of a lack of blood supply with the normal areaBabies usually recover without any medical treatment.

Stage TWO: The damage is still contained at the outer part of the retina and considered a mild abnormality but the dividing line is now raised to form a ridge. Babies also usually recover without any medical treatment.

Stage THREE: New blood vessels start to grow on the ridge.  These vessels are very weak and will cause vision problems if they start to scar. When blood vessel growth becomes severely enlarged, laser treatment is required.

Stage FOUR: Blood vessels that have grown at stage three now shrink, causing scarring, and start to pull the retina away from the back of the eye (partial retinal detachment).

Stage FIVE: The retina can become totally detached from the back of the eye (total retinal detachment), leading to a permanent loss of vision.

Read less

Why does a baby develop ROP?

The major reasons for babies developing ROP are:

A premature birth and low birth weight

All babies less than 32 weeks or less than 1,501g birth-weight should be screened for ROP. And all babies less than 31 weeks or less than 1,251g birth-weight must be screened for ROP.

Premature babies receiving excess oxygen therapy

Premature babies are often given oxygen when they are born, particularly if their lungs are not yet fully formed. The oxygen levels in the blood of all premature babies and the amount of oxygen they receive need to be constantly monitored and carefully controlled to reduce the risk of abnormal blood vessels forming behind the retina.

Do I have a claim?

A doctor, nurse or hospital clinician has a duty to provide a level of appropriate care that does not fall below an expected standard.

As Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a preventable condition,  a breach in care standards may be said to have occurred if:

  • Oxygen therapy was improperly administered after birth
  • Regular eye examinations were not provided to high-risk babies
  • Symptoms of  ROP that were clearly present were not diagnosed
  • ROP was not treated promptly or adequately.

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) – sometimes called ‘baby blindness’ – is a condition affecting more than half of all babies who are born prematurely or are underweight at birth.

While most babies will only have a mild form of ROP and not require treatment, around 6% of premature babies will develop an advanced stage of ROP, which will require treatment and can result in blindness.

Abnormalities may only become apparent at a late stage. So it is vital that a doctor, nurse or practitioner examines a premature baby’s eyes every week for the known stages of development of ROP.  If this is not done, your baby has received sub-standard treatment.

A delayed diagnosis and treatment - can cause serious complications and lead ultimately to a permanent loss of vision.

If you have reason to believe that your baby was at risk of ROP but was not provided with appropriate care for any of the reasons below, you may have grounds to pursue a claim for clinical negligence.

  • A failure or delay in diagnosis
  • A failure to carry out appropriate monitoring
  • Improper use of oxygen following birth
Read less

An unborn baby’s retina - the light-sensitive surface at the back of the eye) has no blood vessels until after the 16th week of pregnancy. The blood vessels continue to develop from the centre and only reach the edge of the eye one month after birth. If a child is born prematurely:

  • The blood vessels can grow abnormally causing damage to the retina and impair vision.
  • The incomplete retina is vulnerable to oxygen damage.

To function properly, the retina needs a constant supply of blood to provide oxygen. If a baby is born early and the development of the blood vessels is incomplete, there will be areas of the retina that will not receive enough oxygen.

An insufficient oxygen supply triggers chemicals to produce new but fragile blood vessels, which leak blood and cause scarring. If left undiagnosed or untreated, the vessels can pull the retina out of position and affect a baby’s ability to see, eventually becoming completely detached and causing permanent blindness.

Read less

A doctor, nurse or clinician should be monitoring a premature baby’s eyes for advancing stages of ROP, as follows:

Stage ONE: The outer part of the retina shows mild changes clearly marked by a flat white line dividing the abnormal area of a lack of blood supply with the normal areaBabies usually recover without any medical treatment.

Stage TWO: The damage is still contained at the outer part of the retina and considered a mild abnormality but the dividing line is now raised to form a ridge. Babies also usually recover without any medical treatment.

Stage THREE: New blood vessels start to grow on the ridge.  These vessels are very weak and will cause vision problems if they start to scar. When blood vessel growth becomes severely enlarged, laser treatment is required.

Stage FOUR: Blood vessels that have grown at stage three now shrink, causing scarring, and start to pull the retina away from the back of the eye (partial retinal detachment).

Stage FIVE: The retina can become totally detached from the back of the eye (total retinal detachment), leading to a permanent loss of vision.

Read less

The major reasons for babies developing ROP are:

A premature birth and low birth weight

All babies less than 32 weeks or less than 1,501g birth-weight should be screened for ROP. And all babies less than 31 weeks or less than 1,251g birth-weight must be screened for ROP.

Premature babies receiving excess oxygen therapy

Premature babies are often given oxygen when they are born, particularly if their lungs are not yet fully formed. The oxygen levels in the blood of all premature babies and the amount of oxygen they receive need to be constantly monitored and carefully controlled to reduce the risk of abnormal blood vessels forming behind the retina.

A doctor, nurse or hospital clinician has a duty to provide a level of appropriate care that does not fall below an expected standard.

As Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a preventable condition,  a breach in care standards may be said to have occurred if:

  • Oxygen therapy was improperly administered after birth
  • Regular eye examinations were not provided to high-risk babies
  • Symptoms of  ROP that were clearly present were not diagnosed
  • ROP was not treated promptly or adequately.