Justice for mother after doctors failed to listen to her concerns

5 Min Read

Pregnant woman having her heart monitored

When her baby died shortly after his birth, Jessica (name changed) approached us through our website and asked us to investigate. She felt that her concerns during the birth hadn’t been taken seriously, and that if they had been her baby might have survived. 

This was Jessica’s second pregnancy.  Her first child was born by an emergency caesarean section one week before her due date.

Jessica had a late booking appointment when she was approximately 8 months pregnant.  Her previous care had been provided abroad and her pregnancy was going well. Jessica requested a caesarean section, as she felt this was safer as her previous c-section was only 13 months ago.

At her booking appointment a scan was performed.  The sonography disagreed with her dates, saying that her due date was two and half weeks later than she had been told previously.  An elective caesarean section was booked for three weeks before her new due date.  Everything else was fine.

One week before her caesarean section, Jessica was admitted to Hospital as she was having contractions.  A vaginal examination was performed and she was advised she was not in labour.  She asked to be admitted as the pain was increasing and she was due to have a caesarean section in any event.

Jessica was admitted.  She continued to have contraction type pains and her previous caesarean section scar started to hurt.  Her baby’s heart rate was checked regularly overnight.  In her notes a plan for a ‘VBAC’ (vaginal birth after caesarean section) was recorded.

The following day, she was reviewed.  They noted that Jessica had been in the early stages of labour for two days and was requesting a caesarean section.  The medical staff decided that, because she had gone into spontaneous labour, a VBAC was best. If her labour did not progress over the next 24 hours, then they would proceed with the caesarean section.

Jessica’s pain around her scar was increasing.  A CTG (a machine which records the baby’s heartrate) was started.  She was told she may have an irritated uterus, which was causing the pain and tightening.

Jessica was later transferred to the delivery suite.  She was reviewed and advised she could not have a caesarean section as she was not a priority.  She was monitored for a second night.  Again, she reported increasing pain around her scar and repeatedly requested a caesarean section.

In the early hours of the morning the next day, the CTG showed a temporary drop in Jessica’s baby’s heart rate.  The emergency buzzer was pulled following a further drop, which then recovered.

Her baby’s heart rate dropped a third time before recovering and the emergency buzzer was pulled again.  The CTG was reviewed and as Jessica’s baby’s heart rate kept coming back up, she was advised that they would just keep an eye on things, and further action wasn’t needed.

Her baby’s heart rate dropped for the fourth time but did not improve for over 5 minutes.  The emergency buzzer was pulled again but things improved when the doctor attended.

Jessica’s baby’s heart rate continued to drop and then improve and her pain around her scar was getting worse.  She was reassured but eventually advised that a caesarean section was needed as they were worried about her baby.

Her son was very poorly when he was born and needed to be resuscitated.  However, further investigations showed that he had suffered a severe brain injury due to oxygen deprivation.  It was believed Jessica’s uterus had torn at her caesarean section scar site.   Her son sadly passed away the following day.

Parents are advised to wait 21 months after having a caesarean section before giving birth again due to the increased risk of uterine rupture.  Jessica was due to give birth 13 months after her previous caesarean section.  Therefore, the doctors should have put a plan in place, in case she went into labour prior to her booked caesarean section.

Further, Jessica’s increased risk of uterine rupture was not recognised by the doctors when she went into labour.  They also failed to have an appropriate discussion with Jessica each time she requested a caesarean section, and failed to recognise that her baby was in distress and Jessica was likely suffering from a uterine rupture.  Had they recognised this, her baby would have been born much earlier by caesarean section.

HOW WE HELPED

Due to our expertise we were able to get answers to her questions, an early admission of liability without the need to get expert evidence and a letter of apology which was particularly important.

We sent a letter seeking early admissions which meant we were able to bring the claim to an end much sooner than normal for Jessica.  The case was also settled without Jessica being assessed by a psychologist/psychiatrist at her request.  Again, this meant the case was able to be completed more quickly – Jessica got justice for her son and closure on the legal matter, helping her to start moving forward.

We were successful in receiving a lump sum of £40,000.

She intends to attend further counselling sessions and have private obstetric treatment during her future pregnancy.

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Nicola Rawlinson-Weller

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Claire Stoneman - Enable Law

Claire Stoneman

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