Inquest Held For Mum-Of-Three Who Suffered Fatal Bleed During Childbirth

Medical Law Experts Investigate Death Of Mum And Why Baby Was Left Severely Brain Damaged

12.02.2014

Mandy Luckman, Partner | 0370 1500 100

A devoted father-of-three, whose wife died during childbirth and son was born severely brain damaged, has spoken of his anger at the hospital staff’s ‘appalling’ catalogue of errors and said he will never get over the tragedy.

Diane Willis was just 30 years old when she suffered a fatal heart attack seemingly caused by internal bleeding whilst on the operating table at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. She died just three hours after undergoing an emergency caesarean to deliver her third child, Joshua, on 25 October last year, who suffered brain injuries during his birth.

Desperate to discover why he has been left bringing up his three children alone, with the youngest severely brain damaged, husband Christopher instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell who attended an inquest into the Telford mum’s death today (11 February) at Telford Coroner’s Court.

The Coroner, Mr Ellery, heard that despite Diane’s history of blood clots, she was taken off blood thinning medication before her labour was induced and around four days later Diane developed symptoms of severe neck and head pain. There was a period between 5pm and 5.45pm on 25 October where no observation of her baby was carried out by the midwifery or obstetric team. In fact, it was during that period that Diane’s dissection was symptomatic.

However, it was not until the lead Consultant attended around 6.10pm that both Diane and her baby’s condition were checked and the baby’s condition was so concerning that she was taken to theatre for an emergency caesarean section.

The Coroner recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

Mandy Luckman, a partner and medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office is representing Diane’s family.

Expert Opinion
This truly is a heart breaking case that resonates with childbirth in the 19th century rather than what we rightly expect from a 21st Century maternity unit.

“The family have shown courage and dignity throughout the inquest which flagged periods of time where there was no monitoring of Diane’s unborn baby despite Diane presenting as being seriously unwell. Whilst it has gone some way to providing them with answers about what happened in the hours leading to her death, they remain concerned that the same tragedy could happen to others.

“Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust must now urgently look at the standard of care given to Diane and what improvements can be made and shared with the wider NHS to confirm lessons have been learnt and that patient safety remains the number one priority.

“We will continue to work on behalf of the family to ensure they are given reassurance about this and can begin to start thinking about the long process of rebuilding their lives.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner

Diane had a history of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) since 2003 and her last blood thinning injection was on 21 October as doctors advised her not to take anymore, as her labour would be induced two days later. This went ahead as planned on 23 October but she was not taken to the labour ward until two days later, with midwives telling her the ward was too busy.

At around 5pm that day, Diane began suffering head and neck pain which was so severe it caused her to be sick and despite Christopher and her mother, Linda Law’s, pleas for help because they were concerned about a potential blood clot, according to the family it took 30 minutes for a doctor to arrive and he only examined her legs.

It wasn’t until Diane began slipping in and out of consciousness and convulsing that a more senior doctor urgently referred her for an emergency C-Section, by which time it was too late. Baby Joshua was delivered critically ill and despite resuscitation attempts, Diane died on the operating table of a cardiac arrest caused by a huge haemorrhage.

Christopher, a Security Officer who now cares for the couple’s three children; Piper, eight, Phoebe, almost five, and four-month-old Joshua, said: “Hearing what can only be described as an appalling catalogue of errors made by hospital staff during the inquest has been incredibly difficult and painful to get my head round. I will never get over it but I have to stay strong because our three children now rely on me for everything.

“Diane’s DVT was an issue during her pregnancy with Piper, but it was carefully monitored and she was also fine giving birth to Phoebe.

“We trusted that the maternity staff in charge of her birth with Joshua would recognise her history of DVT and be on the lookout for any concerning symptoms once she was taken off her medication.

“Linda and I knew something was seriously wrong with her when she was in such agony but felt utterly helpless and felt that our concerns weren’t being taken seriously.

“I was ushered out of theatre when she was taken for the C-Section and heard nothing for what felt like an eternity. Then, when the doctor came to see me and told me that they had been unable to save Diane and that Joshua was in intensive care my whole world came crashing down. It felt like I was living my worst nightmare.

“I need to know how it was possible for my wife to deteriorate past the point she was beyond being saved and what more could have been done to help Joshua. He’s still having tests to discover exactly how severe the brain damage is, but he could potentially need 24-hour care for the rest of his life.

“Diane was a wonderful wife and mother and I feel that I owe it to her to get accountability for what happened and ensure that no other family has to go through the same horrific ordeal, during what should be one of the happiest times of your life.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to medical negligence claims.