Case Study: Hospital Failures Lead to Neonatal Death

Compensation: £30,000

Wendy, 33 years old, Eastbourne

With JMW's help a woman has received £30,000 compensation after hospital failures led to her child's tragic neonatal death.

Wendy was 2 weeks past her due date when she was admitted to hospital for induction of labour.  It was her first child.

Use of Prostin gel

Prostin gel (used to stimulate contractions) was administered to the cervix and CTG traces pre and post-induction were reassuring. CTG was then discontinued to allow Wendy to mobilise. After she had taken a walk, a CTG trace was taken which showed decreased variability but was reassuring. More Prostin gel was administered after which the CTG was described as a "sleepy trace".

Thereafter Wendy was monitored intermittently with a sonicaid monitor and decelerations in the fetal heart rate were noted but CTG monitoring was not re-commenced.

Late that evening was in pain and distressed with irregular tightenings. This was not recognised as established labour, and no vaginal examination was performed. Pain relief was given and the fetal heart was heard with sonicaid.

There are no further observations until after midnight when Wendy began complaining of rectal pressure. Vaginal examination revealed that the cervix was 9cm dilated so she was moved to a labour room and CTG tracing was commenced. Two midwives were unable to locate the fetal heart and the registrar was called. He also could not find a heartbeat and a decision was made to deliver the baby by ventouse. The baby, named Gregory, was born with the cord around his neck. He was pale and floppy with no pulse, he was not breathing. The baby was resuscitated and moved to SCBU where he was ventilated. Gregory had sustained severe hypoxic brain damage and began having seizures within the first hour of his life. He was diagnosed as suffering from Grade III hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) and died the following day.

Lasting effects of the trauma

Wendy was traumatised by both the emergency delivery and the subsequent death of her baby and irrationally blamed herself for not protecting him from harm. She became very depressed for 6 to 7 months after his death, and then slowly resolved. She suffered a miscarriage some months after Gregory’s death and eventually went on to have a second healthy child.

The claim

JMW Solicitors claimed that the hospital failed to undertake continuous fetal heart rate monitoring in view of the fact that this was a post-term pregnancy and involved induction of labour and deceleration were noted in accordance with the NICE Guidelines. There was also a failure to perform a vaginal examination in order to establish whether or not Wendy was in established labour and therefore promptly deliver baby Gregory.

Settlement

The hospital made a partial admission of liability (negligence) and the case was settled. Wendy received £30,000 compensation.

If you or someone you know has suffered in a similar way to Wendy, 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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