Claim settled against hospital for tragic stillbirth following medical failings

We have settled a clinical negligence claim against East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust after our client’s baby was tragically stillborn, following negligent management of her pregnancy.

Our client fell pregnant with her second baby in 2014. Throughout the pregnancy, our client’s routine scans showed normal fetal growth and no concerns were raised about either the mother’s or the baby’s health. At 40 weeks, one day after her due date, our client presented at her GP’s satellite practice first thing in the morning with a history of reduced fetal movements. The GP asked her to return later that day to the main practice, as the satellite practice did not have the equipment to listen to the baby’s heart. She attended the main practice later that day and the GP located a heartbeat, but he suggested she went to triage.

On arriving at triage, our client gave her details to the midwife at the desk and explained her history of reduced fetal movements. In accordance with the triage pathway for women presenting with reduced fetal movements, our client should have received CTG monitoring within 30 minutes; however, she was left waiting for over two hours. After waiting some time, she asked at the desk when she would be seen but this did not speed up an assessment.

When our client was finally put on a CTG monitor, the trace was concerning. Our client was informed she might need an urgent caesarean section. However, upon a later review, it was decided to give her fluids and to review the CTG in 30 - 40 minutes. After a short break in the monitoring to allow our client to get changed, the midwife could not locate the heart rate and our client was sent for an emergency caesarean immediately. Tragically, our client’s baby was stillborn and attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful.

We carried out an independent investigation and obtained expert evidence, which identified numerous failings in the care provided by the trust. Had it not been for these failures, our client’s baby would have been delivered earlier and would have survived.

Following our investigations, the trust made a full admission and apologised to our client and her family for the loss of her baby and a settlement was reached.

Our client suffered a severe and prolonged psychiatric injury as a result of losing her daughter. While we were pleased to achieve a settlement for our client and that the defendant trust made a swift admission of liability, acknowledging the failures in her care, it is of course recognised that reaching a settlement can never compensate a mother, and a family, for such a loss. It is hoped that the investigation provided our client with answers and highlighted to the trust that hospital procedures need to be followed to prevent the same mistakes happening in the future.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP