‘Appalling’ Hospital Errors Left Young Mum Needing Hysterectomy Aged Just 19-Years-Old

Expert Lawyers Call On NHS Trust To Apologise And Prove Lessons Have Been Learnt

31.10.2013

A young mum who needed a hysterectomy at the age of 19 because hospital staff missed FOUR opportunities to diagnose and treat an infection has slammed the care she was given and said she is ‘disgusted’ at the NHS Trust for offering no apology.

Hayley Sanders instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate why she has been left unable to have further children, following complications during and after the birth of her son Jayden at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital on 27 December 2009.

Specialist medical lawyers at the firm found hospital staff performed multiple internal examinations where bacteria would have been passed to Hayley internally, but then failed to act on four high temperature readings during and after her son Jayden’s birth by emergency caesarean.

Instead, just two days after being discharged home, Hayley who lived in Chelmsley Wood in Birmingham, was rushed back to hospital and spent a number of days in the high dependency unit as her body was taken over by the infection. In the end, doctors were left with no choice but to perform a complete hysterectomy 13 days after she was admitted in order to save her life.

Hayley, now 23, was unable to bond and care for Jayden in the first months of his life because she was in so much pain and now needs regular therapy sessions to help her come to terms with what happened. She suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and also needs specialist scar revision surgery to her stomach, as she has been left in pain and is very self-conscious.

Irwin Mitchell has now secured Hayley a five-figure settlement from Heart Of England NHS Foundation Trust shortly before the case was due to be heard in the High Court, because the Trust repeatedly refused to admit responsibility. This will cover her past care, loss of earnings as she is unable to work and future treatment, but lawyers say they remain concerned as to whether any lessons have been learnt due to the Trust refusing to admit liability or offer Hayley an apology.

Emma Rush, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said: “This is a horrific case that has had a devastating impact on Hayley’s life.

“Hospital staff missed multiple opportunities to recognise that Hayley’s high temperature was the result of an infection that is not uncommon in maternity patients and that simple antibiotics would have treated her.

“Instead, she became critically ill as the infection took over her body and the only option of saving her was to perform a hysterectomy to remove the source of the infection. This is obviously a horrendous ordeal for any person to go through, but particularly difficult for a 19-year-old who hoped to have more children.

“As well as offering Hayley the apology she deserves, the Trust must also prove that lessons have been learnt as we have no confidence that improvements have been made. We would expect to see further training for staff in recognising the symptoms of infection and administering the appropriate treatment to ensure the same life-changing errors cannot happen again.”

Hayley, who worked for a bank insurance firm before giving birth, said: “My pregnancy was healthy and I couldn’t wait to be a mum to Jayden but as my labour progressed slower than expected I had to have lots of internal examinations. My temperature was monitored closely but I was not made aware that there was any cause for concern.

“Eventually, it became clear he couldn’t be born naturally so I was rushed for an emergency C-section because he was stuck. I was told all had gone well and was discharged home a couple of days later but when the visiting midwife saw the agony I was in with my stomach, she phoned straight for an ambulance and I was rushed back to hospital.

“The next few days are a blur as my temperature rocketed and my next clear memory was waking up from a coma and being told I’d had to have a hysterectomy. I just could not believe that at 19-years-of age I wouldn’t be able to have children again. I was devastated and determined to get to the bottom of how it could have happened.

“When I heard the evidence gathered by Irwin Mitchell, I was absolutely appalled. I couldn’t believe that if staff had only given me antibiotics I would never have needed a hysterectomy, I would have been able to make the most of bonding with Jayden in the first weeks of his life and I would have, one day, been able to give him a little brother or sister.

“Instead I was robbed of this and have been left with a host of ongoing problems that are a constant reminder of the failings in my care.

“The whole situation has been made worse by the fact the Trust has never taken responsibility for its actions or said even just said sorry – I’m disgusted. Nothing can make up for what happened but it would at least give me some closure to allow me to begin rebuilding my life.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to pregnancy and birth claims.