Woman Instructs Medical Negligence Lawyers To Help Secure Answers
A West Sussex mum whose baby was stillborn is calling for lessons to be learned after a Hospital Trust admitted ‘failures’ in her care which included not acknowledging her baby’s slowing growth.
Amy Taylor, 30, was pregnant with her third child when she attended her local Children and Family Centre for her 28 and 34 week check-ups. Contrary to the Antenatal Schedule of Care stating women should be offered to have their weight measured, this was not undertaken at either appointment.
At 31 weeks, Amy underwent glucose tolerance tests, which were normal. She attended St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester at 35 weeks for a routine growth ultrasound scan, with no concerns raised by the attending sonographer and midwife.
She returned to St Richard’s Hospital at 36 weeks with concerns of reduced fetal movements. She also complained of increased thirst and an increased need to pass urine.
A cardiotocograph was commenced to assess the baby’s heart rate and was reported as normal. A urine test was carried out and Amy was discharged home.
Around four weeks later, at full term, Amy attended a community midwife appointment and said she hadn’t felt her baby move that day. An attempt was made to listen to the baby’s heartbeat but it couldn’t be found.
Amy attended hospital where it was confirmed that baby Jasper had died in the womb. A post-mortem examination found Jasper had died from a lack of oxygen most likely due to delayed chronic villous maturation of the placenta, a developmental placental abnormality common in cases of gestational diabetes and excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
Following Jasper’s death in May 2021, Amy, from Arundel, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under the University Hospital Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs St Richard’s Hospital.
She’s now joined with her legal team in calling for lessons to be learned to improve maternity safety. It comes after the Hospital Trust, through legal correspondence via NHS Resolution, accepted liability and that there were “failures” in the care provided to Amy.
These included a failure to weigh Amy at 28 and 34 weeks gestation. An Investigation Report from the Trust states that had Amy’s weight been measured, it would have identified her “excessive weight gain” of 20 kilograms and may have prompted a discussion with specialist midwives.
There was also a failure to acknowledge a slowing foetal growth as well as carry out Umbilical Artery Doppler scans at the 35-week scan, which the Trust accepts should have been undertaken to ascertain Amy’s placenta function. The report states this was “a missed opportunity to fully assess Jasper’s wellbeing” and have the scan reviewed by an obstetric registrar. Had this occurred, Amy would have been given the opportunity for a further scan two to four weeks later, which “might have shown signs of further slowed growth with a need to expedite Jasper’s birth.”
The Trust accepted that had Amy “been provided with appropriate standard of care and management throughout her pregnancy, it is likely that she would have been referred for closer monitoring”, the baby’s slow growth would have been observed and Amy would have been diagnosed with “abnormal glucose metabolism.” In turn, this “would have been appropriately medically managed, avoiding the delayed chronic villous maturation of the placenta and, as such, the stillbirth of Jasper.”
The Trust went on to apologise for the “substandard care” provided to Amy.
Expert Opinion“It’s been an incredibly difficult time for Amy, who understandably remains heartbroken at losing baby Jasper so suddenly and tragically.
“She’s spent the past two years trying to come to terms with what happened, and her grief has been made worse by having so many unanswered questions about the care she received.
“Sadly through our work we see too many families struggling to rebuild their lives as a result of issues in maternity care. The Hospital Trust’s report into Amy’s case has identified worrying issues, including a failure to refer Amy for specialist management. While we welcome the Trust’s pledge to introduce safety recommendations it’s now vital that these are upheld at all times to improve patient safety.
“We’ll continue to support Amy as she attempts to navigate her way through this distressing time.” Madeline Nugent, Medical Negligence lawyer
Following the Hospital Trust’s investigation, it made a series of safety recommendations, which includes ensuring all community midwives have access to scales for maternity weight measurement, with guidelines reviewed to offer a formal pathway for advice and referral for excessive weight gain.
A pathway is also to be developed for referral to the diabetes team for concerning symptoms in the presence of a normal glucose tolerance test, while improvements are to be made to midwives’ awareness of symptoms that fall outside of normal pregnancy.
Documentation of scan reviews are also to be improved, with a review of criteria for post-scan plans, and all sonographers will be made aware to include Doppler studies as recommended.
Amy lives with her fiancé Ryan, 31, and their daughters Isla, 10, Sienna, six, and six-month-old Hope.
She said: “The last two years and trying to come to terms with Jasper’s death has been nothing short of traumatic.
“I knew something wasn’t quite right as I reached the final few weeks of my pregnancy as I didn’t feel the same as I did during my others. However, I trusted the doctors and thought that they would be able to pick up on anything of concern.
“When I got to full term, I was worried that Jasper wasn’t moving as much so I mentioned it at my midwife appointment, by which point I couldn’t feel him at all. Nothing prepared me for being told my baby boy had died; I felt like I’d had my heart ripped out.
“I would give anything to have Jasper back. It’s difficult not think how he should be growing up and causing mischief alongside his siblings; instead there’s a huge hole in all our lives. I don’t think I’ll ever get over losing him. Coming home from the hospital without him in my arms was the worst pain I’ve ever felt.
“Trying to grieve for Jasper has been awful, particularly with all the questions hanging over us, but I know I can’t change what’s happened. I’m just grateful that the Hospital Trust has now admitted the issues I faced and provided me with some answers. All I can hope for now is that lessons are learned from what I went through. I wouldn’t want another family suffering like we have.
“Jasper now lives on in our hearts and memories.”
For help and support on stillbirths, visit www.sands.org.uk