The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against a claims management company whose advertising implied that birth injuries were only caused by medical negligence.
The website of Medical Negligence Experts, a trading name of National Injury Claimline, featured text that defined cerebral palsy as “brain damage that results from a lack of oxygen during pregnancy or birth”.
It also said that “birth injuries can affect both the baby and the mother. They happen when medical experts either fail to follow the correct procedures, or they carry them out in a substandard manner”.
The third statement complained about was that “mothers in the UK have the option for their baby to be screened for conditions like Down Syndrome, heart or brain defects, Spina Bifida, and other developmental abnormalities that may lead a parent to decide to terminate their pregnancy”.
Though National Injury Claimline said it did not believe the advert implied there was only one cause of cerebral palsy, the ASA upheld the complaint.
“We considered the target audience were particularly susceptible to advertising for a service that helped them to make such a claim and that they were more likely to believe, readily, specific claims made about that service.
“We considered the vulnerability of those consumers could reasonably be foreseen, and that it was appropriate to ensure that they were adequately protected by assessing the ad from the perspective of the average member of that group.
“In that context, we considered that the average member of that group would understand the claim ‘Cerebral palsy is a term used to define brain damage that results from lack of oxygen during pregnancy or birth’ to mean that the condition was only caused by problems with oxygen supply during pregnancy or childbirth and that if their child had developed cerebral palsy, they were able to make a compensation claim for medical negligence.”
However, there were other, non-negligent causes of cerebral palsy, such as meningitis, meaning the claim was misleading.
Similarly, the ASA found it was misleading to imply that birth injuries only happened as a result of negligence by medical professionals, and that a failure to identify the listed conditions during antenatal screening as a result of medical negligence.
The ASA ordered National Injury Claimline “to ensure that their future advertising did not misleadingly imply that complications resulting from pregnancy and childbirth were categorically caused by medical negligence when that was not the case”.