Five figure settlement reached in medical negligence case resulting in traumatic stillbirth

Posted by Patricia Wakeford on

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Being pregnant should be one of the most joyous times of a woman's life, but unfortunately for some it can be one of the most stressful. Clinical negligence lawyer and ex-midwife Patricia Wakeford advises women who have suffered a devastating loss, injury or illness resulting from poor antenatal or maternity care. In this article, she shares a recent case where she helped settle a claim for a client who had tragically suffered a stillbirth.

Our client, Mrs E had a troubling medical history when it came to pregnancy and childbirth. She had suffered the devastating loss of two babies in mid pregnancy after the placenta detached from the uterine wall, causing her to suffer significant bleeding and for her babies to arrive stillborn. She had two live children, but both of those had resulted in emergency deliveries due to problems during labour.

A stillbirth is as mentally traumatic as it is physically and so understandably Mrs E and her husband debated for a long time whether they would try for another child. They had an appointment with the consultant who had been involved with all four children. He agreed that if they decided to try for another baby he would consider delivering at 30 weeks if problems arose at that time. These generally related to raised blood pressure which required treatment.

Mrs E agreed on this basis to try for another baby on the proviso that she would be high risk and would receive full review and that if there were concerns around the 30 week mark, she would be delivered. She already had a child who had been born at 33 weeks so she understood the issues with prematurity but thankfully her child born at that stage was well and healthy.

Mrs E fell pregnant very quickly. She received regular reviews but there was no plan put in place other than an appointment by appointment plan for the next few weeks. At 30 weeks pregnant she developed raised blood pressure and began to have concerns that her pregnancy was following the same pattern as her previous four pregnancies. She was treated for raised blood pressure and discharged home. She did ask to be delivered but was told her baby was doing well and growing well and needed to remain inside. This continued for a further two weeks with Mrs E requesting delivery as she was becoming more and more concerned about what was happening and the fact that her symptoms were not resolving.

At 32 plus six weeks she saw her consultant who said she should have CTG's three times a week. Mrs E again asked to be delivered as she was advised that the baby was doing very well and a good size. Her consultant told her that her baby best left where she was.

At just over 33 weeks Mrs E attended the hospital complaining of abdominal pain. On admission to the ward the foetal heart was not heard. An abruption was diagnosed and Mrs E suffered significant bleeding. A normal delivery was attempted but due to haemorrhage, a caesarean section was performed and her baby was tragically delivered stillborn.

Mrs E was devastated and suffered severe psychological symptoms as a result of the failure by the Trust to follow the plan agreed prior to her pregnancy. She contacted Patricia Wakeford at BL Claims Solicitors, who as an ex-midwife with over 20 years' experience delivering babies in the NHS, understood the trauma that could have been prevented had the doctors followed the original plan.

Patricia supported Mrs E throughout the case. Liability was denied on the basis that the consultant who had cared for Mrs E was concerned about a premature delivery and despite repeated request to deliver Mrs E, had not been prepared to do so. An attempt was made to settle the claim before the issue of court proceedings but the trust rejected the offer and refused to negotiate.

Court proceedings were served and statements were ready to be exchanged. However, an offer was then received by the Trust in settlement of the claim. Further negotiations took place and a five figure settlement sum was agreed which Mrs E was happy to accept.

Mrs E is doing all she can to prevent another pregnancy as she could not go through this again. The clinician at the hospital has promised that she would be delivered at 30 weeks if the same were to happen again. However, she no longer trusts this advice as it was not followed with the previous pregnancy.

The settlement has helped Mrs E access the counselling and support she needs to fully grieve for her baby and move forward.

If you have any concerns about the medical care you have received please contact Patricia Wakeford on 023 8085 7310.  As a medical negligence expert with prior experience of a midwife she is able to offer confidential advice on the most sensitive of cases.

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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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