Settlement of maternity care claim following the stillbirth of a baby

We have recently settled a claim for a woman who suffered a number of errors in her maternity care during the late stages of her pregnancy. The failings, which took place under the care of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, tragically led to the stillbirth of her son in July 2016.

Our client was aged 30 at the time and this was her first pregnancy. It was uneventful until the late stages, when our client began to experience reduced movements from her baby, followed by what she thought was her waters breaking. She called the Labour Line and subsequently attended the hospital but was told that her waters had not in fact broken and she was sent home. A few days later she reported reduced movements again. At a hospital appointment for a growth scan a few days following this, the midwife plotted the measurement incorrectly on the chart. The following week our client attended again but was not measured and so the previous error was not picked up. Two days later, she visited the hospital a further time, reporting reduced fetal movements, and was advised that she would have a growth scan the following day. That evening, she returned to hospital and underwent a scan but was given the heart-breaking news that her baby had died in-utero. He was delivered stillborn the following day and his funeral was held two weeks later.

As a result of the loss of her son, our client sustained psychiatric injuries, which significantly impacted her teaching career, relationships and plans for her future.

Investigations were carried out as part of the clinical negligence claim and expert evidence was obtained. We alleged that there were a number of failings in our client’s maternity care during July 2016, when referral to an obstetrician should have been made, and that, if a referral been instigated, our client’s baby would have been born earlier. Our expert evidence indicated that, had this had been the case, he would have survived.

The defendant NHS trust denied liability and court proceedings had to be issued. However, after negotiations, a settlement was reached. No sum of money can ever replace what has been lost but we hope that the compensation awarded will go some way towards allowing our client and her husband to re-build their lives and to seek treatment for our client’s psychiatric injury.

Our client now regularly volunteers with a charity to support other bereaved parents. She also contributes to a group run by midwives at the hospital where she lost her son to help them improve the care they provide for future expectant parents. The resolution to this claim should allow her, her husband and their family to have some degree of closure.

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