£70,000 recovered for death of newborn baby following substandard ultrasound scanning during pregnancy

6th July 2023 – Our client, woman now aged 22, from Canterbury, lost her first child when aged just 17 years due to failures in the ultrasound monitoring of her baby son during her pregnancy. Her antenatal care was provided by QEQM Hospital, Margate, run by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

Our client had a routine anomaly scan at 20 weeks when the heart could not be visualised and so the scan was re-booked for 2 weeks later at 22+3 (on 12.10.17). The repeat scan was reported as normal including with specific reference to the heart. The remainder of the pregnancy proceeded normally.

Our client underwent an induction of labour at 42 weeks. Her son was born via natural delivery on 13.02.18 at 14:50. His Apgar scores were 9 at 1 minute, 10 at 5 minutes, and 10 at 10 minutes. There were no concerns with him following delivery and he was given a ‘green hat’.

Overnight the family were concerned that baby felt cold but nothing was done by the midwives. The next morning he was unsettled and recorded not to be rooting or feeding.

At 8:45 he was noted to be grunting. When a blood glucose test was performed his levels were unrecordable. He was move to Special Care Baby Unit. There he was given a diagnosis of neonatal hypoglycaemia for which he was treated but he failed to improve.

On 15.02.18 at around 6am he suffered a cardiac collapse. CPR was carried out but discontinued at 6.45am.

A post mortem was conducted, which gave cause of death as interrupted aortic arch together with a chromosomal abnormality called 22q deletion syndrome. The syndrome is a condition that people can be born with. A symptom of it is the aortic presentation which mandates transfer during pregnancy to a tertiary centre and birth there (or immediate transfer after birth) with a view to emergency heart surgery in the first couple of days of life.

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

Expert evidence was obtained from a sonographer who identified 2 features on the foetal anomaly scan (performed on 12.10.17) that should have been identified as abnormal:- (1) that the pulmonary artery was dilated; and (2) that the aortic arch was not in continuity.

A foetal cardiologist was then instructed and determined that had our client’s son undergone the life- saving heart surgery, (which the Trust accepted he would have had), then he would ultimately have survived.

A Letter of Claim was sent to the Defendant. Our client was seen by a psychiatric expert following which we made a settlement offer for the entirety of the claim.

The Trust’s Letter of Response denied liability stating it was not a breach of duty to fail to diagnose any abnormality at the time of the scan on 12.10.17. They did however accept that had our client’s son had the required surgery shortly after his birth he would have survived.

Assistance was then sought from a foetal medicine expert, who was supportive of the claim and confirmed that the scan mandated referral to foetal medicine experts, who would have performed further tests and ultimately diagnosed the 22q deletion syndrome.

Despite denying liability the Defendant made a settlement offer in the sum of £45,000. This was rejected but settlement negotiations were entered into with a settlement of £70,000 being agreed ultimately.

Francesca Beach who had conduct of the matter commented:
‘I am overjoyed that we have been able to bring this claim to a successful conclusion for my client. She has shown incredible strength throughout this process and I hope that she can now move forward from these events. It is a shame the Defendant consistently refused to accept liability dragging this matter out far longer than was necessary and making matters even more difficult for my client.’

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