We secured a five-figure sum for a woman who suffered a stillbirth after critical errors were made in her ante-natal care. A failure to treat her condition as an emergency when she complained repeatedly of abdominal pains and bleeding would have devastating consequences for her and her unborn child.
Our client, Sam, already had one child with her husband Chris. In May 2012 they were overjoyed to find she was pregnant again and they looked forwards to their new arrival. They planned to name the baby boy Myles.
By the time she was due in January the following year, however, Sam was worried that her baby did not seem to be moving as much as it had been. She went for tests at the Maternity Assessment Unit (MAU) at the University Hospital in North Staffordshire, including a CTG test to monitor the heartbeat of the foetus. Results came back clear and she was discharged home.
Less than two weeks later Sam suffered a significant bleed at home. An ambulance took her to the MAU this time and she was again given the CTG scan. Steroids were administered to stem the bleeding and a Consultant advised her that if it hadn’t stopped after an hour they would do an emergency caesarean. But the bleeding ceased and Sam was again discharged home.
Only five days later, Sam was in pain again. On the 22nd January she called the MAU but they reassured her that her pains were probably Braxton hicks – ‘fake’ contractions that sometimes come before labour starts properly. Staff advised her to stay home and take paracetamol.
By the afternoon Sam was in considerable pain. The baby seemed to have wedged itself in the right hand side of her womb. She called the MAU again but they gave the same advice as before. That evening, she called for the third time in 24 hours. Still they advised her to stay at home.
At 2am Sam was in so much pain that she had to call again. She had an appointment booked for tests that day already and they told her she could come in earlier than planned.
But when she got to hospital, the scans could detect no foetal heartbeat. Sam had suffered an acute placental abruption; baby Myles was stillborn.
Sam and her husband got in touch with our expert Medical Negligence team to find out if anything more could have been done to save their baby. We brought a case against the hospital on the couple’s behalf, arguing that Sam should have been advised to come into hospital much earlier as a matter of urgency.
If the MAU had told her to come to the hospital after she phoned repeatedly, a CTG scan could have picked up abnormalities in the baby’s heartbeat before it was too late. If the hospital staff had diagnosed the placental abruption earlier, they would have been able to perform an emergency caesarean and save Myles’ life.
Sam and Chris were represented by Rosalie Reading, a Solicitor in the Medical Negligence department in Birmingham. Rosalie said, “The loss of baby Myles has caused severe heartache for this family and the psychological impact has been significant. In pursuing this case Sam and Chris both had one goal, which was to ensure that justice was done for their baby and that lessons were learned so that no family has to suffer in the same way that they have. I’m pleased we were able to achieve a settlement for the family as I know that they have plans to work with charities. They have some fantastic ideas to continue Myles’s legacy and help others who have suffered a similar loss.”
Speaking to Rosalie following the statement, Sam said: "From the moment we found out that Myles had no heartbeat we knew that something was not right with the care I’d had before then. He should have been with us, alive and healthy. When the post-mortem results confirmed this, the realisation hit us with unbelievable force.
“To say that we as people have changed would be an understatement. It wasn't until our second daughter arrived in 2014 that we felt strong enough to pursue the answers to our questions. Getting justice for Myles has been very important for us, he is a big part of our family and everyday life. To know that he was healthy and his death was preventable is very hard to accept and all I really wanted was for the hospital to learn from their mistakes so that another family didn't have to suffer like we are.
“Rosalie and the team at Irwin Mitchell have been nothing but fantastic throughout the whole process. Rosalie has gone above and beyond her duty to help us understand the legal jargon and explain situations and procedures; she has watched us cry and has comforted us in our grief. We trusted her with our son’s legacy and she dealt with it impeccably. We cannot thank her enough for helping us on our path to closure."
If you or a loved one has suffered a stillbirth or other problems with your baby’s birth because of medical negligence, we urge you to get in touch. Visit our Birth Injury pages to find out more, or call the team for a free consultation on 0800 121 6567.
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