Case studies

Claim settled for patient who suffered stressful pregnancy due to delayed diagnosis of polyhydramnios

The standard of care our client received during her last trimester made her pregnancy and labour extremely stressful. During her pregnancy, our client was concerned that she felt so ill with breathlessness, fatigue, swollen feet and ankles that she feared for her own health and that of her unborn baby. She consequently suffered psychological stress and anxiety, compounded by the erroneous belief that her symptoms were purely the result of panic attacks and her psychological state.

The NHS Trust responsible for our client’s maternity care was negligent in that it failed to undertake planned scans at various times during her pregnancy. It also failed to take account of her symptoms and concerns and, as a result, her diagnosis of polyhydramnios was delayed by a number of weeks. She was repeatedly described as an over-anxious expectant mother and her concerns were dismissed. To make matters worse, inaccurate entries were made in the medical records about our client’s psychological state of mind and she has had to fight to have these corrected. 

Polyhydramnios is a common complication of pregnancy in which there is an excessive amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the unborn baby. An abnormal amount of fluid (whether increased or reduced) might be suspected by a healthcare professional after 30 weeks of pregnancy and during antenatal appointments and should be monitored and investigated. The cause of polyhydramnios is often not known and can sometimes indicate a problem with the development of the baby. However, most women with polyhydramnios give birth to healthy babies. 

In this case it was claimed that, had polyhydramnios been diagnosed earlier, our client would have been treated appropriately. She would have been advised to rest rather than keep herself busy, and her symptoms would have been fully explained to her rather than advising numerous referrals to the clinical psychologist and Social Services which increased her distress and anxiety during the pregnancy. 

Had the surgical team been aware of our client’s polyhydramnios during labour, they would have been mindful of the possibility that there could have been something wrong with the baby at birth.  They would not have passed the new-born baby to our client while she was experiencing problems such as choking.  

The claim settled for a modest amount of damages but our client was extremely pleased that an independent investigation had been carried out on her behalf.  Her concerns had been highlighted and finally listened to and she was hopeful that procedures would be changed so that any mother suffering polyhydramnios in the future would receive a better standard of and more sympathetic medical care. The claim was funded under a conditional fee agreement and settled without the need for issue of court proceedings. 

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