GP misstatement leads to Rhesus disease in pregnancy

Case Studies

GP misstatement leads to Rhesus disease in pregnancy

We have represented a client in a claim against her partner’s GP, which despite being defended on a number of grounds, was settled successfully.

The defendant GP incorrectly recorded the blood group type results for our client’s partner as Rhesus D negative (when he was Rhesus D positive) and conveyed this information to him via the GP practice receptionist. The couple relied on this medical advice and our client decided not to have an anti-Rhesus D injection during her first pregnancy, due to her severe needle phobia and the fact that she believed it to be unnecessary. She therefore became sensitised to Rhesus D positive cells. The mistake only came to light after the birth of the couple’s first child. They had to endure the distress of the medical team asking our client if she was sure that her partner was the biological father of her child.

During her second pregnancy, our client suffered Rhesus disease and required substantial and traumatic interventions, including frequent fetal blood transfusions carried out in theatre due to the risk of miscarriage. With her severe needle phobia, this was particularly traumatic and at times she was so upset that she had to be restrained in order to keep her still so that the procedure could be completed.

Consequently, and with the knowledge that interventions would be required earlier and more frequently with further pregnancies, our client and her partner decided to curtail the size of the family they had always planned.

The claim was defended on multiple fronts. Our client was not a patient of the defendant GP, only her partner was, and the GP therefore denied that he owed our client a duty of care. He also denied that he gave any advice to our client’s partner, as the incorrect blood result had been conveyed to him via the GP surgery receptionist. The GP contended that our client was the author of her own misfortune by deciding not to have the anti-Rhesus D injection, whether her partner was Rhesus D positive or negative. He sought to blame the treating midwife for accepting our client’s decision not to have the injection based on the blood result provided by the GP and not advising her to have the injection in any event.

In relation to causation, the defendant GP initially denied that our client had suffered any actionable injury connected to her first pregnancy which could form the basis of a claim. When our client required intervention during her second pregnancy for Rhesus disease, the GP argued that her injuries were minimal and the value of her claim was negligible at best, but specifically that her claim was then statute barred for being out of time.

It was necessary to issue and serve court proceedings following the denial of liability at the protocol stage. A limitation defence was entered and the GP denied liability again, but nevertheless it proved possible to settle the claim. Our client was delighted with her damages settlement. 

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP