Cambridge Hospital Trust Admits Maternity Delays Led To Stillbirth Of Baby Girl

Heartbroken Parents Call For Better Treatment For Expectant Mothers By Community Midwives And GPs

31.08.2016

The heartbroken parents of a baby girl who was stillborn have spoken of their hope that maternity services will be improved after an investigation found that an opportunity was missed to refer them for more hospital tests just days earlier.

 

Aleksandra Anna Sobolewska was tragically stillborn at the Rosie Hospital on 2 June 2014 after her mother Olga Boczula, 34, attended the hospital feeling unwell and reporting her baby has stopped moving.

 

A post mortem following Aleksandra’s death confirmed the cause of death as acute starvation of oxygen where poor growth and pre-eclampsia were factors.  Pre-eclampsia is a condition in pregnancy which is frequently characterised by high blood pressure, fluid retention and the presence of protein in the urine as well as severe headaches and visual disturbances.

 

Devastated Olga and her partner Lukasz Sobolewski, from Chesterton instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Cambridge office to investigate the treatment they were provided by their local GP and community midwives.

 

Now Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has admitted liability on behalf of the community midwife involved and agreed to pay damages.

 

On Friday, 30 May 2014 Olga attended her midwife at the Red House GP Surgery complaining of feeling unwell and was found to have high blood pressure, a symptom which can be associated with pre-eclampsia. There was also evidence that Aleksandra had not been growing properly.  Rather than referring Olga straight to hospital the midwife discussed the symptoms with the GP, Dr Salmon, and it was decided that she did not need to be referred to the hospital for further examination.

 

The plan was for Olga to return to the surgery after the weekend. Olga continued to feel unwell over the weekend and, feeling worse on Sunday 1 June, she attended the Rosie Hospital where the tragic news of her daughter’s stillbirth was confirmed.

 

An internal investigation into Aleksandra’s death concluded that there was a failure to refer Olga for obstetric assessment of high blood pressure due to a misinterpretation of guidelines and also that Aleksandra’s lack of growth had not been identified. It also noted that amendments have been made to the guidelines and they have been clarified with all community midwives.

 

The Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for community midwife services, has accepted liability for the negligent treatment Olga was given.

 

Olga and Lukasz have since gone on to have twin girls, Jagoda and Klaudia, but the whole experience of losing Aleksandra has left them traumatised and ultimately brought about the decision for them to return to Poland as a family.

 

Guy Forster, a Partner and expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Cambridge office, who is representing the couple, said:

 

Expert Opinion
“The loss of Aleksandra has been absolutely heartbreaking for Olga and Lukasz. It has been made all the more difficult to know that, had Olga been referred to hospital as she should, in all likelihood Aleksandra would have survived to be a healthy child.

“We believe there were obvious warning signs of pre-eclampsia which should have been taken much more seriously and it is clear that Olga was badly let down.

“We welcome the Trust’s decision to accept liability on behalf of the community midwife involved. We hope that the changes that have been made to its guidelines will prevent another family having to go through a similar tragedy. Of course all of this has sadly come too late for Olga and Lukasz and they now hope every opportunity will be taken to learn lessons from the tragic stillbirth of Aleksandra.”
Guy Forster, Partner

 

In March 2014, four months into her first pregnancy, Olga began to suffer swelling in her face, hands, legs and feet, as well as problems with her vision. She attended her midwife appointments at Red House Surgery and it was noted her blood pressure was higher than normal.

 

A month later Olga again attended her midwife appointment complaining of problems with her vision. In May 2014 a community midwife again recorded Olga’s blood pressure was high, that she had swelling in her feet, headaches and problems with her vision. Rather than taking the decision to refer Olga to hospital, she decided to discuss Olga’s condition with Dr Salmon and a decision was made not to refer Olga to Rosie’s Hospital for further examination.

 

Two days after the appointment Olga began to feel unwell and could not feel any movement from her baby. She attended the Rosie Hospital and was told after being examined that she had lost her baby. Sadly, her daughter Aleksandra was stillborn the following day.

 

Olga, a customer service advisor, said: “Lukasz and I were absolutely delighted when I fell pregnant. We were looking forward to welcoming our new daughter into the world, but that has been taken away from us and we have been left absolutely devastated by the impact of the loss we suffered.

 

“We both feel completely let down by the maternity services and the treatment I received. We believe the concerns I raised during my pregnancy and the signs of the higher risk of pre-eclampsia shown during my check-ups were simply not taken seriously enough.

 

“We will always believe that I should have been referred to a specialist for examination when I began suffering these problems and that Aleksandra death was entirely avoidable.

 

“Having lost our first child we know just how painful it can be and we want to make sure nobody else has to endure what we have in the last two years. We hope by speaking out about the treatment we received and raising awareness of the signs of pre-eclampsia we will prevent other parents going through the same thing.”