£61,000 recovered for death of newborn baby due to substandard delivery care

6th July 2023 – Our client, a 39 year old woman from Surrey, lost her second child on 27.05.2019 following a traumatic birth at Epsom Hospital run by Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.

After struggling to get pregnant again after her first child, our client was overjoyed to learn she was pregnant for a second time. Her pregnancy progressed smoothly without issue.

On the evening of 26.05.2019, at 39+5 weeks our client began experiencing intense pain. After receiving confusing advice from a midwife on the maternity triage telephone line our client attended hospital. Upon arrival at around 22:40 our client’s contractions became unbearable. She described the pain as “something else” was unable to stand unaided and could not sit still.

She was taken to maternity triage where she was reviewed by a Midwife who did not take her pain seriously. There was little sense of urgency or empathy towards our client. Our client repeatedly informed the midwife that the pain was “unbearable” and constant. She also informed the midwife that she had started to bleed.

After about 20 minutes in Triage she was put in a wheelchair and taken to the delivery suite. From 11:15pm two midwives were present and attending on our client. Around this time her waters broke and there was mention of meconium by the midwives.

The midwives had difficulty in positioning the Doppler and could not source a working fetal scalp electrode resulting in inconsistent fetal heart monitoring during this time.

After around 30 minutes of attempting a natural birth there was no progress. At 11.45pm our client was taken to theatre accompanied by her husband, who described theatre as “chaotic”’. After receiving a spinal LA our client was encouraged to push for delivery despite not having any feeling below her waist except the ongoing pain. Her bleeding was ongoing and visible on the theatre floor.

The operating Obstetrician then attempted to use Ventouse for delivery for about 20 minutes. This was unsuccessful and so at around 12:15am on 27.05.2019 they undertook a C-section. At 12.30am a baby boy was delivered. CPR compressions were initiated. One of the anaesthetist had to leave our client to help intubate the baby as no one else was able to. He was then taken to neonatal intensive care at 1.45am.

Our client was diagnosed with a uterine rupture which required surgery. When she awoke from surgery she was informed that her baby had suffered brain damage and would not survive. Her baby boy passed away at 07:10am that day in the arms of his parents.

A post-mortem examination determined his cause of death to have been perinatal asphyxia, due to placental abruption and uterine rupture. The HSIB undertook an investigation into the matter and found various failings in our client’s care at delivery.

Our client suffered psychiatric injury as a consequence of the avoidable death of her baby requiring

Expert evidence was obtained from a neonatologist who confirmed that had the baby been born 20 minutes earlier he would have survived without any long term neurodevelopmental sequelae.

An Inquest was held into the death in February 2022 at which we represented the family. At the hearing the Coroner’s expert obstetrician confirmed that there should have been continuous monitoring of the baby’s heart rate from 23:30 onwards. This would have shown signs that he was becoming distressed and a decision for delivery would have been made around 23:40. He would have been born by around 00:10 – 00:15 (20-25 minutes earlier than he was).

The Trust made formal admission of liability some 5 months after the inquest and conceded that our client’s son would have survived but for their breach of duty.

The fatality claim for the loss of our client’s baby settled quickly with the Defendant accepting our offer of £18,000.

Our client was then assessed by a psychiatric expert, before settlement negotiations pertaining to her primary victim claim could take place. We initially made an offer of £45,000 and settlement was eventually achieved in the sum of £43,000 for that aspect of the claim.

Francesca Beach, who had conduct of the matter, commented:
‘I am so glad that we had been able to bring this heart-breaking claim to a successful conclusion for my client and her family. At the end of the Inquest process the Trust were able to explain to the family what they had done to ensure that something of this nature does not happen again which has been a big help in the family coming to terms with what happened. Now that the claim has concluded I am hopeful that my client and her family can move forward with their lives and I wish them all the very best in doing so.’

If you or your family need the assistance of an experienced team of Clinical Negligence Solicitors surrounding an inquest or civil claim then please do not hesitate to phone us free on 0800 999 5585, request a call back or submit your case details.