Case Study: Negligent Care Leads to Child's Death

Compensation: £50,000

Harriet, 29 years old, Liverpool

A couple have received £50,000 compensation after negligent care led to their child's neonatal death, inflicting numerous psychological impacts on the family.

Harriet was 12 days overdue when she was admitted to hospital in labour. The cervix was 6cms dilated and the CTG tracing was normal. Labour continued and that evening the cervix was fully dilated. The fetal head was still quite high so Harriet was given Entonox to breath and advised to try not to push until the fetal head descended a bit more. At this stage the fetal heart rate (FHR) was within normal range.

After an hour the midwife requested a medical review as the head was not descending and the FHR was increasing with variable decelerations. After fifteen minutes the obstetrician attended and advised a further review in 30 minutes. If at this stage delivery was not imminent and the CTG trace remained worrying he would proceed to instrumental delivery. No fetal scalp electrode was applied. In this half hour, the CTG trace showed a high base line FHR with persisting and worsening decelerations.

Profound bradycardia

The doctor did not return after 30 minutes and Harriet continued to push but with little advancement of the head. After an hour medical assistance was again sought and a fetal scalp electrode was attached. This showed a profound bradycardia (slow heart rate), the doctor attended and delivered the baby with forceps within 10 minutes. She was born in extremely poor condition with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly round the neck 3 times. The baby was resuscitated but had sustained such severe anoxic brain damage that after 6 days intensive care support was withdrawn and she sadly passed away.

JMW Solicitors alleged that the care received by Harriet during labour was negligent in that the second stage of labour should not have been allowed to extend to 2 hours before delivery was expedited. She should have been advised to push once fully dilated and a fetal scalp electrode should have been attached.

Pathological grief reaction

Harriet developed a pathological grief reaction after the trauma of the delivery and the death of her daughter. Initially she expressed thoughts of suicide, however, after the birth of a second baby within two years her symptoms gradually moderated.

Compensation

The hospital admitted liability (negligence). Harriet and her husband eventually accepted compensation of £50,000.

If you or someone you know has suffered in a similar way to Harriet, give us a call to discuss the situation and to see whether you could be entitled to compensation. Ring us today on 0800 054 6512, or complete our online enquiry form and a member of our friendly team will get in touch with you. 

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