Irwin Mitchell’s clinical negligence team has secured a settlement for a couple who lost a baby because of mistakes made by medical professionals, as well as an apology from the NHS Trust involved.
Our client, Sophia, was pregnant with twins but was complaining of reduced fetal movements on her left side, leading to the midwife seeing her. She was referred to the maternity day care centre, where all observations were noted to be normal. The hearts of both twins were heard and regular, and Sophia was discharged home.
A consultant then reviewed her in the antenatal clinic. A growth ultrasound scan was within normal limits, and her blood pressure and urine were also confirmed as normal.
Advice From Midwife
Sophia began complaining of constant pain, tightening and breathlessness. Her husband was so concerned that he spoke to the midwife on the telephone himself. The midwife reassured them that the pains were normal and “just the babies growing.” Sophia was advised to take paracetamol and have a bath.
Sophia said that the tightening pain was leading to breathing difficulties, but staff told Sophia to take Gaviscon as it was likely she had indigestion, and advised her to call back if her symptoms persisted.
She telephoned the delivery suite complaining of continuing tightening pains and breathlessness. Staff again told her that the cause of the pain was muscular, and that she should take painkillers and have a bath.
Sophia continued to suffer with these symptoms but, as advised by the midwives she had spoken to, believed these to be normal.
She later telephoned her GP’s surgery asking for a midwife. None were available and so she telephoned the delivery suite again. She complained of continuing abdominal pain, tightening, breathlessness and reduced fetal movements. The triage note indicates that Sophia was told to take paracetamol, focus on the fetal movements she was experiencing and call back in an hour.
Sophia rang the delivery suite again, confirming that the fetal movements were reduced. She was advised to attend the day unit. During examination staff noted that she had high blood pressure with protein in her urine. The twins’ heartbeats were felt to be similar.
At 2.45pm, the on-call consultant saw Sophia. An ultrasound scan was performed, which confirmed that the first twin had no heart beat and that the second twin was in the breech position with a heart rate of 124bpm. The clinical impression was of placental abruption, which is where the lining of the placenta separates from the uterus. Staff also noted that the second twin was sluggish.
Sophia was reviewed by a second consultant at 3pm. A further ultrasound scan was undertaken and this again confirmed there was no heart beat for the first twin. There was no abruption seen and an urgent caesarean section was requested.
Staff transferred Sophia to theatre at 3.15pm and a baby girl was delivered stillborn at 3.35pm. Old blood was seen and the placenta was noted to be gritty with multiple pieces of dead tissue. A baby boy was delivered in good condition at 3.36pm.
Proceedings Issued Against The NHS Trust
As a result of the stillbirth, both Sophia and her husband have suffered from psychological harm. They instructed Kelly Morris, a medical negligence specialist at Irwin Mitchell, to investigate a potential legal claim on their behalf. Having looked into their case, Kelly issued proceedings against the NHS Trust involved.
Kelly obtained a five figure settlement for them, as well as an apology from the NHS Trust.
She explained that the family were devastated by the loss of their daughter and wanted to know why and how it had happened. This process has allowed Sophia and her husband to gain a better understanding of how their daughter died.
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