Hospital Trust Reviews Its Policies Following Girl’s Death
A devastated couple are urging hospitals to increase testing during pregnancy following their baby daughter’s death three days after her mum reported her waters had broken.
Deborah McLaughlan visited Sunderland Royal Hospital when 38 weeks pregnant on 21 March 2020, telling staff her waters had broken.
Mum sent home from Sunderland hospital after examination
Following a speculum examination by a midwife, who discussed the case with other two members of midwifery staff, Deborah was told there was no evidence her waters had broken, a perinatal care report into the incident said. She was sent home and advised to monitor any fluid loss. No other tests were carried out.
Three days later Deborah, of Shildon, County Durham, returned to hospital concerned that her baby’s movement in the womb had reduced.
Following a scan Deborah and her partner Mark Thomson were told their daughter Chloe had died and fluid around the baby in the womb was reduced.
Deborah returned to hospital a few hours later to be induced. She delivered Chloe stillborn the following day.
A post-mortem examination found Chloe died from a severe infection of the amniotic fluid – which protects babies in the womb – and pneumonia.
Medical negligence lawyers investigate after baby delivered stillborn
Following Chloe’s death, Deborah and Mark, both aged 33, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate Deborah’s care under South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Sunderland Royal.
The couple are now using Baby Loss Awareness Week to speak for the first time about their trauma. They are also urging hospitals to increase testing for women who say their waters have broken.
It comes after a perinatal care report commissioned by the Trust found there was currently no national guidance recommending medical staff carry out additional checks on top of a speculum examination to diagnose whether waters had broken in women 37 weeks pregnant and over.
The Trust said it would review its own procedures to advise that where there was uncertainty, midwifery staff escalate cases for further review and a potential ultrasound to measure fluid around the baby.
That Deborah’s case was discussed with two members of staff suggested there was uncertainty about her diagnosis, the report found.
Daughter could have lived if care issues had been identified
It added that if issues in Deborah’s case had been identified Chloe may have survived.
Irwin Mitchell is campaigning to improve maternity services across the country and has also contributed to the Health Committee’s Maternity Safety Call for Evidence.
Expert Opinion“Deborah and Mark have been left devastated by Chloe’s death which continues to have a major impact on their lives.
“Understandably they have a number of questions about the events that unfolded in the lead up to Chloe’s death.
“Worrying issues in the care Deborah received have been identified in the report the Trust commissioned. It’s especially concerning that the outcome for Chloe may have been different if issues in Deborah’s care had been identified sooner.
“While nothing can make up for Deborah and Mark’s suffering, we would urge all Trusts to learn lessons from this case. Additional testing could make all the difference to other families.
“We’ll continue to support the couple at this distressing time and also campaign to improve maternity safety.” Lauren Cooper - Solicitor
Baby loss: Deborah McLaughlan's story
Deborah has two other children from a previous relationship, a son named Bailey who is 15 and a daughter named Jaden who is 13. Mark also has a daughter from a previous relationship named Brooke, who is 11.
Deborah said: “We were both looking forward to being parents again and my pregnancy seemed to go by relatively smoothly until I felt my waters break. I was surprised when I was sent home but trusted the medical opinion.
“Even though deep down I thought something wasn’t quite right it was heartbreaking to be told that we had lost Chloe. Giving birth to her, knowing she had already died was absolutely traumatic.
“Me and Mark got to spend some time with Chloe in hospital but it wasn’t enough. Having to leave her knowing we wouldn’t be able to bring her home to meet and bond with her brother and sisters is something I don’t think we’ll ever get over.
“Knowing things could potentially have been different if my case had been escalated and more tests and scans had been carried out is the hardest thing to accept.
Couple support Baby Loss Awareness Week
“We would give anything to turn back the clock and for things to be different but we know that’s not possible. All we can do now is share what happened to us to make other parents aware and urge hospitals to review their procedures and if needed carry out more checks.
“We also want to let others going through the same emotions as us following the loss of a baby know that it’s not their fault. They don’t have suffer alone. Baby Loss Awareness Week is an important reminder that there is help and support available.”
Baby Loss Awareness Weeks runs from the 9-15 October.
Find out more about our expertise in supporting families following a birth injury at our dedicated medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.
For more information visit www.babyloss-awareness.org/