Case study: failure to diagnose intra-uterine growth retardation

Sonia, 28 years old and Baby Sally, Hull

With JMW's help, a mother received £5 million pounds compensation after doctors grossly neglected her during childbirth, leaving her daughter permanently brain damaged.

Sonia wanted to have her second baby at home. As her first baby had been very small for dates because of intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR) she was followed up very carefully by the hospital. During the latter part of her pregnancy Sonia had numerous scans to check that the baby was growing normally.

Consultant fails to recognise signs of growth retardation

The head measurements were satisfactory but the body measurements suggested that there might be some growth retardation with abdominal circumference equivalent to 34+ weeks when the actual gestational age was in fact 36 weeks. For reasons that are not clear the consultant failed to recognise the significance of this discrepancy and he wrote to the GP giving the go-ahead for a home birth.

Emergency caesarian

Sonia went into labour at home at 40 weeks and when the midwife arrived and examined her she found evidence that the baby was becoming seriously distressed. She immediately transferred her to hospital where an emergency caesarean section was performed.

Permanent effects

Sally was born in a poor condition having been starved of oxygen during labour. The reason this happened is that a baby with IUGR is less able to tolerate the stress of labour than a normal baby. Unfortunately, Sally sustained severe brain damage because of the lack of oxygen and she will require around the clock care for the rest of her life. Although she is now an adult she functions at about the level of a five-year-old.

The claim

The hospital admitted that they had failed to recognise that Sally had growth retardation and they also accepted that she should have been delivered in hospital rather than at home. If this had happened she would almost certainly have been delivered without injury.

The case was settled by JMW clinical negligence department for over £5 million pounds, the majority of which will be paid in periodic payments throughout Sally’s life

Have hospital staff failed to diagnose problems during your or a partner's pregnancy?

If so, contact JMW today either by our online enquiry form or by telephone on 0800 054 6512 and let us help you move forward and get the compensation you deserve.

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