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Compensation After Misdiagnosis Leads To Death Of Baby

Our client had a history of high blood pressure. At her first antenatal appointment at Pontefract General Infirmary she was noted to be hypertensive and “at significant risk of pre-eclampsia”.

On two occasions our client attended hospital after having experienced vaginal bleeding. On these occasions reassurance was given after normal CTG scans and she was discharged.

Our client’s blood pressure was registered as being high at several points throughout the pregnancy. She spent time both at day centres and hospital being monitored as a result. Further problems arose in the form of kidney infections which also caused her significant discomfort.

A number of bradycardic episodes were noted on 3rd March 2007.   At around 5pm our client was transferred to the Labour Ward at Pontefract General Infirmary.  She was suffering with a high temperature, was on a drip and being given antibiotics. The baby’s heart rate was elevated throughout this period and at times reached over 180bpm.

Our client asked the Registrar to deliver her baby at this stage, but was refused and advised that this was not necessary. She remained ill through most of the night. Following a review by an Obstetrician our client was referred back to the ordinary ward for daily monitoring. After a number of days she was discharged and a future appointment made.

Our client returned home but noted her baby was quieter than before.  However, she was not unduly concerned having read that babies tend to move less towards the end of pregnancy.

Our client recalls starting with contractions the night of 8th March 2007 and attended Pontefract General Infirmary. The baby’s heart rate dropped off dramatically at the end of each contraction. After two hours her baby’s heart rate dropped further and never recovered.

After the deceleration to 60bpm and difficulty detecting a fetal heart rate an obstetrician made the decision to deliver in the operating theatre under general anaesthetic.

A caesarean section was performed on 9th March and a boy, Reuben, was born. On inspection the placenta was found to be very gritty as a result of a lack of blood supply.  Cardiac compressions were performed and Reuben was intubated before being transferred to SCBU. Within a few hours Reuben was noted to be twitching intermittently and later started shaking and gasping.

On 10th March 2007, following discussions with the family, intensive care for Reuben was discontinued.  He was disconnected from the ventilator and died approximately an hour later.

A post mortem found the cause of death to be perinatal hypoxia (i.e. lack of oxygen) contributed to by a placenta that was not functioning correctly. At an Inquest before HM Coroner a narrative verdict was recorded.

Had delivery been made earlier then Reuben may not have died.

Following negotiations with the Defendant the matter was eventually settled for £30,000 plus costs.

The case was settled by Suzanne Munroe of Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Medical Negligence team, she said, “It is very unfortunate in this case that the NHSLA, the NHS Insurers, took an extraordinarily long period of time to settle this case, causing further distress to the family.”

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