Case Study: Negligence During Labour Leads to Child's Death

Compensation: £50,000

Baby Abigail, Northampton

JMW's expertise has secured £50,000 compensation for a family after negligence during labour led to the child's death.

Claire had a normal pregnancy until 37 weeks when it was noted that she had raised blood pressure and a trace of protein in her urine. When Claire was 4 days over due, she was seen by a midwife at home who noted that her blood pressure was still high.

On the midwife's advice, Claire attended the hospital and she was admitted for induction of labour later that day. The membranes were artificially ruptured and the cervix was noted to be 3cms dilated and thinning.  Although there was a brief period of accelerations in the presence of variable decelerations it was considered that the CTG improved and no further action was taken.

No action taken on worrying signs

However half an hour later there was a heavy blood stained show and Claire experienced the urge to push.  At this stage, the cervix was 5cms dilated and it was noted that the liquor was blood stained. Further decelerations on the CTG trace were noted as well as bleeding with clots. The situation was discussed with the registrar and the decision was taken not to intervene.

An examination then showed a thick anterior lip of cervix and the CTG showed further decelerations to 80 bpm. The liquor was still blood stained and the head had not fully engaged. A decision to carry out an instrumental delivery was made at 3am with delivery occurring at an hour later.

Cerebral palsy and tragic death

Baby Abigail was born pale and floppy with very poor Apgar Scores of 1 @ 1 minute, 3 @ 3 minutes and 4 @ 7 minutes. She was intubated and transferred to the special baby care unit (SCBU) where she began to have convulsions. She was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy and tragically passed away aged 2 and half years old.

Claim for negligence

JMW Solicitors alleged that the CTG trace was abnormal and that a more senior opinion should have been sought. The expert also found that the delay between deciding to proceed to delivery in theatre and the actual delivery was unacceptable. As Abigail’s heart rate was significantly abnormal there should have been more urgency.


An offer of £50,000 was made by the hospital to settle the claim and this was accepted by the family.

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