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Mother’s fight for the truth following her baby’s avoidable death

Maisie Cockle was delivered in October 2005 at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan by emergency caesarean section following failed attempts at instrumental delivery.

She required resuscitation but tragically, she died the following day. After a lengthy legal battle, her parents have secured an admission of liability and an apology from the Trust, together with damages following their baby’s avoidable death.

Cara Robinson, Maisie’s mother, was under the care of the specialist registrar in obstetrics when she was admitted for induction of labour on 12 October 2005.

A CTG trace of the baby’s heart showed that there were decelerations. The Registrar decided to increase the dose of syntocinon, a drug which stimulates the contractions of the uterus, and made two attempts at Ventouse delivery, both of which failed. Cara was then rushed to theatre for an emergency caesarean section and her baby, Maisie Cockle, was born at 06:38 on 15th October 2005.

Maisie was in a poor condition at birth. The cord was around her neck and she had bruising to her face and scalp. She was resuscitated and transferred to the Special Care Baby Unit.

Maisie died the following day, on 16th October 2005. A subsequent post-mortem identified the causes of death as hypoxic ischaemic encephalopaphy due to perinatal asphyxia, i.e. a severe lack of oxygen during labour and birth.

Cara and her family wanted answers. How and why had this happened and why weren’t the hospital offering answers that could explain why Maisie had died? The family had no alternative but to seek legal help to get answers about what had happened.

Seeking legal advice

A two-day Inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court in May 2007 considered the circumstances surrounding the birth and death of Maisie Cockle.

The Coroner heard evidence from Maisie’s parents and from doctors and midwives who were involved in Maisie’s care, as well as from independent medical practitioners. In response to questions that were put to The Registrar by Maisie’s parents’ legal team during the Inquest, she admitted that she was not aware of and had not followed the hospital protocol for administration of syntocinon when she decided to increase the level of this drug and that, in hindsight, she should have reduced it.

The Coroner gave a narrative verdict which was critical of the way in which labour and delivery had been managed. She stated that :-

“Maisie Cockle died as a consequence of hypoxia which accumulated during her mother’s labour and thus in the course of Maisie Cockle’s birth. This was the result of multi factors being the frequency of her mother’s contractions, stimulated by use of Syntocinon, and the entanglement of the umbilical cord, the effects of which were compounded by the length of her mother’s second stage of labour and by expedited delivery not taking place”.

In light of the Coroner’s narrative verdict Julia Bridges of Linder Myers invited the Defendants to make an admission of liability. They declined.

Court Proceedings were issued on behalf of both parents and Maisie’s estate in October 2008 by Julia Bridges, birth trauma specialist at Linder Myers Solicitors.

The Trust has finally admitted liability after a four year battle and the family has been offered damages. The offer was accepted by Maisie’s parents on the condition that it came with a full apology and an admission of negligence in writing from the Trust.

Julia Bridges comments “The loss of their first baby in October 2005 was an extremely traumatic experience for Maisie Cockle’s parents and it was compounded by the Trust’s failure to promptly explain what had gone wrong and to accept responsibility. Maisie’s family should not have been forced to resort to litigation in order to successfully resolve this claim following their baby’s avoidable death.“

The Registrar was subsequently moved and indeed promoted as a consultant obstetrician in January 2006.

The matter is not over and a complaint to the GMC General Medical Council is ongoing.

Ends

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