Our client’s wife had died just four months after her fourth child was stillborn. We were instructed to investigate whether it was an avoidable stillbirth.
Her pregnancy had been normal however, one month before her due date there were signs that the baby’s growth was slowing but no action was taken to address this.
Two days after the baby was due, she attended an antenatal appointment and it was noted that she had experienced a small loss of blood and was advised that this was likely to relate to the start of her labour. No vaginal examination took place.
She was due to return to hospital one week later to have her labour induced. Just six days later she went to hospital as she was having vaginal bleeding. A CTG found that there was no fetal heart rate and that the baby had died in the womb and was delivered stillborn later that day.
She was discharged from hospital but went back later the same day complaining of abdominal pain and more bleeding. Blood tests showed that she had blood poisoning and an infection. Despite being given antibiotic treatment, her condition deteriorated and she became significantly ill and was showing signs of multi organ failure.
A hysterectomy was carried out and due to the blood poisoning leading to gangrene, her feet had to be amputated. Medical staff attempted to identify the source of her infection but in the meantime, in her weakened state, she developed a fungal infection in her lungs. Her lungs were examined but following a complication with the procedure, she suffered a severe haemorrhage and died.
Following an internal enquiry, the hospital accepted that she had been provided with inadequate antenatal care and that there should have been an earlier delivery of the baby which would have prevented the stillbirth.
A coroner’s report into her death concluded that complications arising from the avoidable stillbirth and the absence of correct management which should have involved delivering the baby earlier, would have prevented our client’s wife developing an infection and suffering the subsequent chain of events leading to her death.
We invited the NHS Trust responsible for her patient care to admit liability following the coroner’s findings. The Trust instructed its own microbiology expert evidence which stated that the postnatal complications would have occurred in any event.
The NHS Trust did however, accept breach of duty in relation to failing to deliver the baby sooner. Our client was awarded a five figure settlement as a result for the benefit of the couple’s three remaining children.
If you have suffered as a result of what you believe was an avoidable stillbirth, Call Us on 0800 042 0700.
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