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Written on 10th May 2021 by

Boyes Turner’s medical negligence lawyers have secured a compensation settlement and an apology from the defendant hospital for the family of a baby who was stillborn as a result of mistakes in her mother’s antenatal care. 

During her first pregnancy, our client (the baby’s mother) was under the care of the defendant hospital’s antenatal team. Her pregnancy was assessed as high risk owing to her high BMI. She was also found to have multiple fibroids but was advised that these were not low lying (and therefore unlikely to obstruct her labour) and were not a cause for concern. 

At just over 36 weeks of pregnancy, our client was advised that she might need a caesarean section owing to concerns about the size of her baby. When she asked for more information, she was told that there had been a drop off in the rate of her unborn baby’s growth. However, she was reassured that she should not worry about this as the baby was still within a reasonable range. 

She had another scan a week later, which confirmed that the baby was low in the pelvic cavity. No measurements of the baby’s size were undertaken at this time or at her next appointment a week later, at just over 38 weeks. The plan was for a cervical stretch and sweep to take place at her next antenatal clinic appointment. 

A week later, at just over 39 weeks of pregnancy, our client started feeling contractions. After numerous attempts to contact the maternity unit at the hospital, she finally managed to speak to somebody at midday and was told to rest. The contractions became more frequent during the evening and she contacted the hospital again and was advised to go for a walk. The next morning she went to the hospital, having had irregular contractions since the previous morning, possible rupture of membranes (waters breaking) and reduced fetal movements since earlier that day. She was examined by a midwife who was unable to locate the fetal heartbeat. An ultrasound scan confirmed that the unborn baby had died (intrauterine death). Our client gave birth to her stillborn baby in hospital in the early hours of the next day.

Hospital investigation into stillbirth identified missed opportunities and poor care 

During their investigation after the stillbirth, the defendant hospital followed the recommendations of RCOG’s Each Baby Counts review, and arranged for an independent fetal medicine consultant to examine our client’s care. The expert, and the hospital’s Serious Untoward Incident (SUI) report, concluded that our client’s scan at just over 36 weeks showed a significant drop in the baby’s growth rate which should have been followed up by a repeat scan two weeks later. The hospital missed opportunities to identify the growth-restricted fetus (unborn baby) and expedite labour and delivery of the fully developed baby. With correct care the baby’s death could have been prevented.

Helping our client obtain an apology and compensation

We made a claim on behalf of our client to the defendant's hospital, calling for an immediate admission of liability, given their own investigation report’s criticism of our client’s care. The hospital gave an unreserved apology to our client. They admitted liability and that if correct care had been given the baby would have survived. 

Our client was deeply affected by the loss of her baby. She suffered a psychological injury, including a period of moderately severe depression and ongoing milder symptoms of depression. Her treatment and recovery will be largely dependent on the outcome of IVF treatment and her ability to have further children. 

Her claim also included sums for funeral costs, ongoing loss of earnings and other expenses arising from the tragic loss of her baby. The case concluded with an out-of-court settlement. 

If you have suffered severe injury or bereavement as a result of negligent maternity care, and would like to find out more about making a claim, contact our expert lawyers by email at mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.