28th April 2020 – Our client, a 32-year-old woman from Kent, was admitted to the Medway Maritime Hospital on 01.08.16, at 26 weeks pregnant, a spontaneous rupture of membranes.
She was monitored and all was well until the morning of 05.08.16 when she began to feel faint, with an increasing temperature, and there was an elevated foetal heart rate detected on 3 separate auscultations using a sonicaid.
Despite these symptoms, which came on over the course of the morning, the midwife in charge of her care failed to escalate matters to the obstetric team and/or the obstetric team failed to attend and perform their own review.
As a consequence, our client was discharged home in the early afternoon, only to return in the early evening with a significantly raised temperature and generally feeling unwell. An ultrasound was performed which showed that she had lost her baby. She then had to be induced to deliver a few hours later.
In addition, as a result of her developing infection, our client required urgent fluids and antibiotics. The antibiotics were not delivered in time to prevent the infection from developing into sepsis, and the urgent fluids caused her to suffer pulmonary oedema, such that our client had to be admitted to ITU briefly.
Further, the combination of these problems caused our client to suffer cardiomyopathy and left ventricular failure (although this resolved a few months later with only very occasional intermittent arrhythmias ongoing), and a mild psychiatric injury relating to these cardiac complications.
We obtained expert evidence from an obstetrician, who confirmed that the treatment on the morning of 05.08.16 was negligent as our client ought to
have had CTG monitoring as a result of her symptoms, which would have
resulted in her remaining in hospital and a diagnosis of infection being made in the early afternoon, leading to delivery of her baby by C-section in the late afternoon. Although, due to significant prematurity, the infection would likely have resulted in the baby dying in the neonatal period in any event, our client would have avoided the pulmonary oedema, sepsis and ITU admission.
Expert evidence from a cardiologist and a psychiatrist also confirmed that the cardiac complications and the psychiatric injury would have been avoided.
A detailed Letter of Claim was submitted to the Medway NHS Foundation Trust, and our highly supportive obstetric evidence was also disclosed.
However, the Defendant Trust denied the claim, failed to disclose their own obstetric evidence, and invited us to discontinue the case.
Despite obtaining further supportive comments from our experts, submitting a detailed rebuttal letter to the Defendant Trust, and making an offer to settle the claim, the Defendant maintained their denial of liability.
We were therefore forced to issue Court proceedings in order to progress the claim further.
When the Defendant’s Defence was received, it became clear that they had midwifery expert evidence, and that we would need to obtain microbiology
expert evidence to confirm that the sepsis would have been avoided if earlier antibiotics had been provided.
We then did receive the Defendant’s obstetric evidence (which was extremely unconvincing), and an offer of £10,000.
We obtained midwifery and microbiology expert evidence, which were both supportive of the claim, and submitted a counter offer of £30,000 together with a further detailed rebuttal.
Following further negotiations, the claim was settled for £20,000.
In response to the settlement, our client said “I am very grateful for your work on my case, you have been very thorough throughout, and I am really pleased with the outcome achieved”.
Alex Tengroth, Senior Solicitor at Fairweathers LLP, commented “This claim arose from very traumatic circumstances for my client. Upon investigation it was clear that there was no claim to be made for the loss of her baby, and the residual claim for her own physical and psychiatric injuries were limited, and this was always made clear. Despite that, the Defendant’s approach to the claim (prior to the issue of Court proceedings) was very poor. This claim could have been settled very early on, but the Defendant’s failure to admit the obvious weaknesses in their expert evidence, and to engage in any meaningful settlement negotiations, resulted in an unnecessary increase in both my client’s suffering and the costs the Defendant will now have to pay from the public purse.”