Claim following inadequate anaesthesia during caesarean section

Posted by Patricia Wakeford on

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Miss J was expecting her first baby and was very much looking forward to meeting her baby at the end of her pregnancy. Her pregnancy progressed well and there were no concerns from the clinicians involved in her care.

Miss J required induction of labour and she progressed well. The records detail that her epidural was working well initially. However, after a while she was able to move and get up and walk and advised the midwifery staff that her epidural was not controlling the pain. She was given further top ups but unfortunately this failed to relieve the increasing abdominal pain. Miss J's labour was not progressing as expected.

She was prescribed a medication to increase the intensity and frequency of the contractions. Unfortunately, as the epidural was now ineffective, they were unable to start this medication as soon as they would have liked. The anaesthetist was asked to come to the ward and reassess. However, she said there was nothing else she could do and did not come to the ward. A pethidine injection was given as there was no other option and it was important to progress the labour and start the medication to increase the contractions.

The baby was noted to become distressed. This was felt to be linked to the administration of the pethidine. It came to a point where the clinicians felt that the labour needed to be brought to a conclusion and Miss J was transferred to theatre for a category one caesarean section.

The anaesthetist topped up the epidural and knife to skin took place. Unfortunately, Miss J's epidural had not been effective for the last few hours and despite this the anaesthetist allowed the surgery to continue. Miss J felt the knife as it cut into her abdomen. She made the anaesthetist aware of this as did her mother who was with her at the time. Eventually the surgery was stopped and a general anaesthetic was provided.

Miss J made a full complaint after the surgery and both her and her mother provided statements at the time so the Trust were very aware of their concerns. They did not feel these were dealt with adequately so contacted Patricia Wakeford at BL Claims Solicitors to investigate a clinical negligence claim. Investigations took place and it was clear that the epidural had been ineffective and the anaesthetist should have ensured that adequate pain relief was in place before the caesarean section commenced.

Our client suffered mild Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of what happened. She is pregnant with her second child and is very afraid of what will happen during the labour. She is doing all she can to ensure that she delivers at a different hospital as even when she walks through the doors for her clinic appointments she feels very distressed. The Trust did apologise that the anaesthetist did not believe Miss J when she said she could feel the knife cutting into her. It took a little time before she was able to have the general anaesthetic.

Settlement was agreed by the Trust for a five figure sum. Miss J is able to have some counselling now to help her to cope with the after effects of her traumatic delivery with her first child.

Please contact Patricia Wakeford on 023 8085 7310 or if you would like further information about this case or have had a similar experience yourself.

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About the Author

Patricia is a Senior Associate, in our Clinical Negligence team, and is also a qualified midwife with many years of experience working in the NHS.

Patricia Wakeford
Email Patricia
023 8085 7310

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