Claim success for mother of stillborn baby

3 Min Read

Zoe* approached our firm following a referral from the charity AvMA, who knew about our specialism in helping parents whose baby has been stillborn or passes away shortly after birth.  This was her first pregnancy and because it was classed as low risk, her care was provided by midwives rather than doctors.

Her pregnancy went well until she was 34 weeks pregnant. Zoe attended a routine midwifery appointment.  Everything was fine except her baby was measuring higher on the growth chart than expected so her midwife referred her for a growth scan which was normal.

The next day, Zoe noted her baby’s movements had reduced.  She attended Maternity Triage the following day and told them she had not felt her baby move since lunchtime the day before.

They started monitoring her baby’s heartrate with a CTG shortly after arrival, and some abnormalities were noted.   When Zoe was reviewed by a registrar an hour later, no movements were seen on a scan.  She was admitted for continuous monitoring.

Zoe was reviewed an hour later by the registrar and the CTG continued to have abnormalities.  A plan was made for Zoe to be put on a drip for fluids, to inform the neonatologists and, following discussion with the consultant, be given steroids to help her baby.  If the CTG continued to be abnormal, the plan was for delivery.

CTG monitoring continued and three and a half hours after Zoe arrived at the hospital, it was classed as suspicious.

Shortly after this there was a midwifery change of care.  The CTG continued to be suspicious.  Her baby’s heart rate dropped to 80bpm, which did not recover despite Zoe changing position.

The registrar attended and noted that the baby’s heartrate was very slow.  The emergency call was put out and the decision was made for an emergency caesarean section.

In theatre the registrar scanned Zoe again but her baby’s heartrate was ‘still sluggish’.  Sadly, Zoe’s baby was born with no signs of life.  Resuscitation was attempted but was unsuccessful.

Both midwives involved should have requested an obstetric review. Had this been requested, the registrar would have attended promptly.  The second midwife should also have requested an urgent review when Zoe’s baby’s heart rate dropped to 80bpm.

If this had been done, Zoe’s daughter would have been born alive.

As a result of her daughter’s death Zoe suffered a psychiatric injury.  She required extensive care and support from her mother and suffers from anxiety and intermittently with low moods. She manages these conditions with obsessive cleaning and antidepressants.  She no longer trusts doctors, and her psychiatric symptoms have had a severe effect on her daily life. This has also impacted her ability to work due to a lack of motivation.  She felt miserable and tired all the time.

We were able to achieve a settlement of £50,000 for Zoe, as well as a letter of apology, which was particularly important to her.

While it can never make up for the loss Zoe suffered, it has compensated her for the care and assistance she required as a result of the psychiatric injury caused by the stillbirth, and the loss of earnings she suffered as a result.

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Nicola Rawlinson-Weller

Senior Associate View Profile >
Claire Stoneman - Enable Law

Claire Stoneman

Partner View Profile >