Medical Negligence

Medical negligence compensation awarded to first-time mother whose unborn baby died after hospital failed to offer an early birth when complications arose

parents hold baby shoes following stillbirth of their child
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Samantha Gardner

Senior Solicitor

5 min read time

A 23-year-old mother who was expecting her first child has been awarded damages from a London hospital trust after her unborn baby died when complications arose.

When a scan at 37 weeks into the pregnancy revealed the baby was underweight and fluid from the womb had leaked the mother should have been offered an induced birth within 48 hours.

However, the Trust arranged for the woman to return in six days’ time for the early labour and discharged her home. Three days later when she returned to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich saying she had experienced contractions the unborn baby girl was found to have died.

“I didn’t cope well, it really destroyed me. I was left holding her and I couldn’t believe it,” she recalled.

“I look back and think, why did they not listen to me and take me seriously when I told them things were not right. I think it was because they saw me as a first-time mother, but they didn’t monitor me closely enough.”

‘There was a failure of the Trust which provided substandard care’

The woman, who had health conditions identified early in her pregnancy, was under the care of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust at the time. In an out of court settlement, the Trust admitted liability and agreed a compensation award of £23,000.

After contacting Hudgell Solicitors the woman was represented in her medical negligence claim by Samantha Gardner who specialises in stillbirth cases.

“This was a tragic case for any mother let alone someone who was expecting her very first child. Stillbirths can have devastating effects on families and in this case, there was a failure of the Trust which provided substandard care,” said Ms Gardner.

“My client should have been given the opportunity to deliver her baby early when the health issues became clear to medical staff. But that did not happen, instead they arranged for her to return in six days which was far too late and a breach of their duty of care.”

‘If I had been induced earlier, I think my baby would be alive’

Early in her pregnancy the woman was told that due to her being assessed as overweight she had a raised chance of developing the condition ‘pre-eclampsia toxaemia’.

The condition can lead to serious complications for both mother and baby if not monitored and treated. A care plan was subsequently drawn-up which included regular ultrasound scans to monitor the baby’s growth.

“They promised extra care due to the pre-eclampsia but that didn’t really happen. I don’t believe I was given the right attention; I know this was during the Covid pandemic but I still deserved to have proper care. If I had been induced earlier, I think my baby would be alive.

“It has affected my mental health and I have experienced depression, but I’m expecting another child soon and I have had to move on and think positively for all of our sakes.”

The stillborn child weighed just over five pounds and a post-mortem indicated the baby had experienced low levels of oxygen in the womb, but the cause of death was not established.

Ms Gardner said the Trust had failed to follow official guidelines, “My client suffered an adverse outcome as a result of substandard treatment, and that was ultimately the grounds for this medical negligence claim.

“The scan at 37 weeks showed the baby was underweight and there was a reduction of the amniotic fluid, this should have prompted urgent concern.

“The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines state the mother should have been offered the option of an induced labour at this time.

“On the balance of probabilities had she been offered an induced labour she would have accepted it and it would have commenced within a 48-hour period while she was in hospital and being closely monitored and ultimately prevented the pregnancy loss.”

The woman and her partner are now preparing for the arrival of their second child in the coming months and she said she was satisfied that the Trust admitted liability, “If it wasn’t for Sam I wouldn’t be where I am today, moving forward with my life. She’s done a really good job.”

Stillbirth Compensation Claims

Losing a baby during pregnancy or birth is a heart-breaking and distressing experience that can have a long-lasting impact on all involved. Sadly, bereaved parents are also sometimes left with a feeling that their baby’s death could and should have been avoided – and that the medical care they received fell short of the expected standards.

Such a loss can have a huge psychological impact on all involved. It can affect relationships, work, health and mental well-being. Mothers can also suffer physical injuries too. In instances like this, when questions need to be asked, our team of stillbirth claims specialists can provide a key supporting role to grieving parents.

We can support parents in terms of how to make a complaint about their care and, if needed, ensure a thorough investigation is held into what happened and why, as part of the stillbirth compensation claims process.

If you or someone you know has suffered in any way, through no fault of their own, please get in touch and we’ll take the worry and hassle out of making a claim. All medical negligence claims have a time limit, so use our online claim form today and we’ll guide you every step of the way.

Read more: Stillbirth Compensation Claims

Download guide

Life After Birth Injury

Life after birth injury for you and your child.

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