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Parents receive compensation following the death of their newborn baby

Moore Blatch Clinical Negligence Solicitor, Dr Mala Sidebottom, has recovered compensation for the parents of a baby girl who died hours after her birth.

MS was the first child of Mr and Mrs S.  Mrs S was admitted for induction of labour for reduced fetal movements, in November 2010. 

At 6:00am on 5 November 2010, a vaginal examination showed that Mrs S was fully dilated.  Active pushing commenced by 07:00 and a plan was made for a trial of instrumental delivery in theatre, proceeding to caesarean section if necessary.

Mrs S was taken to the operating theatre and ventouse delivery was attempted by the registrar, at around 08:50.  However there was no descent of MS’s head and therefore there was a decision to proceed to caesarean section.  The midwifery records note that knife to skin was carried out at 09:10.

The registrar experienced difficulty in delivering the baby’s head and assistance was requested after 5 – 7 minutes.  The consultant arrived by 09:18 and also experienced difficulty in delivering MS’s head but managed to deliver her legs with ease.  Once MS’s body had been delivered, her head delivered easily.

Unfortunately MS was very flat following her birth, at 09:20, with very low Apgar scores.  She was resuscitated and transferred to the neonatal unit on continuing ventilatory support.  She sadly died, later that day.  The cause of death was noted to be severe hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy and multi organ failure.

Mrs S spent a long time in hospital and subsequently developed acute renal failure.  Mr S became seriously unwell and developed visual and auditory hallucinations and required admission to a psychiatric unit.  He eventually resigned from his job, as a chef.  In November 2015 he was admitted to hospital with psychotic depression.  Mr and Mrs S have had two further children.

A serious untoward incident report was produced following a hospital investigation.  The investigation team felt that the registrar should have informed the consultant earlier, and the theatre team should also have informed the consultant earlier, about the difficulties the registrar was having in delivering the baby.

Mr and Mrs S’s case was based on the fact that, if the registrar had attempted to deliver MS as a breech, as the consultant had eventually done, delivery would have taken place 5 minutes earlier.  Alternatively, if the consultant had been called at the outset delivery would have taken place by 09:15 and MS’s death would have been avoided.  A Letter of Claim was sent to the Trust, but despite making various admissions, clarification was required on the admissions on causation of injury.  As this was not received, proceedings were issued and served in March 2016.

The Defence was received at the end of August 2016.  Although admissions were made in relation to MS’s death, no admissions were made in relation to injuries suffered by Mr and Mrs S.  It was also stated that MS would only have survived for a few weeks, at the most, if there had been no breach of duty.

Mr S was a secondary victim, which means that, by law, certain things need to prove in order to be successful in a case, namely that psychiatric illness needs to be caused as a result of having witnessed injury or threat of injury to a loved one due to the “sudden shock” of what was witnessed.  It was disputed that Mr S witnessed a shocking event and it was argued that he would have suffered psychiatric injury in any event. 

The case settled in January 2017 for the sum of £45,000.  A major part of this sum was apportioned to Mr S for his secondary victim claim.  The Trust also wrote to Mr and Mrs S, apologising for the deficiencies in care provided to Mrs S, resulting in MS’ death.

Mr S said:

"When I first met Mala in her office, which was shortly after the tragic death of my baby, I was very distressed. She made me feel comfortable, listened to me and believed in my case. She always conveyed the information to me and my wife in a language that was easy to understand.

No money can take away the pain of losing a child; however I know that I would never have achieved this financial settlement without Dr Mala's help. We are therefore delighted with this outcome and will always be appreciative for her advice, recommendation and the result that was achieved here."

Moore Blatch Clinical Negligence Solicitor, Dr Mala Sidebottom, said:

“I am so pleased that this tragic case has settled and Mr and Mrs S can now try to get on with their lives.  Hopefully Mr S will be able to use this compensation to receive adequate counselling and go back to work and provide for his family again.  No amount of money can compensate for the loss of this baby girl and Mr and Mrs S will grieve for her for the rest of their lives.”

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