Case study: traumatic birth causes psychological injury
Leanne suffered a very traumatic birth of her son Sam due to the negligence of the maternity staff responsible for the delivery. Thankfully, despite being starved of oxygen, Sam did not suffer permanent brain damage. However the experience left Leanne psychologically scarred and she developed an anxiety disorder requiring her to have therapy to be able to cope. Leanne’s case was taken on by the specialist medical negligence solicitors at Hospital Negligence and she was awarded £15,000 in compensation.
Start of ordeal
Leanne had an uncomplicated pregnancy and all her scans were normal. When she was a few days overdue she began having contractions and attended hospital. The baby’s heart rate was monitored with a CTG trace which at times showed some abnormalities or cause for close monitoring of the situation.
That evening Leanne was given an epidural and a couple of hours later her contractions were found to be very strong. Leanne was reassured that everything was progressing normally by both the midwives and a doctor who assessed her.
When the night team took over the birth, Leanne was again told by two doctors that everything was fine. Almost two hours later Leanne was told that she was fully dilated and that she should rest for an hour before beginning to push. Leanne was told that the labour was going well and maternity staff could see the baby’s head coming down.
Leanne pushed for two hours to no avail. She was examined in the early hours of the morning by a doctor who told her the baby could not be delivered by pushing as it was in the wrong position and was a brow presentation, which is when the baby faces the wrong way. Shortly after Leanne was told the baby would need to be delivered with either forceps or a caesarean section. Sam was now in distress as he was not receiving enough oxygen however maternity staff did not tell Leanne this.
Leanne was told that she needed to be moved to theatre quickly so that an attempt at delivery with forceps could be made. However after waiting for 30 minutes for this to happen Leanne was told there was another lady in theatre and there might be a further long wait. Leanne was now feeling very distressed and was worried that baby Sam would be struggling too.
Failure to see signs of distress
The doctors and midwives in the room were showing a lot of concern about the baby’s heart rate on the CTG monitor, which was showing signs of distress. In fact these signs of distress had been present hours earlier but a midwife had failed to recognise this and summon a doctor so that Sam could be delivered more quickly.
A doctor then made the decision to deliver Sam with forceps in the delivery room rather than theatre. This took much longer than it should have done and would have been avoided if the signs of distress had been picked up when they ought to have been.
Sam was born in a very poor condition and Leanne was initially told that he would have cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation. Thankfully after numerous tests it transpired that Sam had luckily avoided brain damage however Leanne was left with deep psychological scars from the traumatic birth.
Leanne’s case was taken on by the specialist solicitors at Hospital Negligence who investigated the circumstances of Sam’s delivery and found several failings. This included failing to notice signs of distress on the CTG which would have ensured Sam was born much earlier by either forceps in theatre or a caesarean section. If this had been done he would not have been at risk of brain damage and his birth would not have been traumatic for him and his mother.
Although nothing could compensate Leanne for these failings fully Hospital Negligence was able to secure her £15,000 for the suffering she had endured and to help her to pay for the therapy she needed to cope with the psychological trauma.
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