A stillbirth is an extremely traumatic event for all concerned, and if the loss of your baby was caused by negligence on the part of a midwife or doctor, you may be able to claim compensation. The team at Hospital Negligence is here to assist with your stillbirth claim, providing the support you need at such a difficult time.
In many instances, nothing could have been done to avoid the tragedy of a stillbirth, but sadly this is not always the case. Losing an unborn baby is devastating, but the loss can be exacerbated if no satisfactory explanation as to why things happened the way they did is given.
Read About the Stillbirth Claims We've Dealt With
Case study - failure to recognise baby was in danger leads to death - £70,000
Mr and Mrs M, Southampton
Mr and Mrs M’s baby daughter died after hospital staff failed to recognise that Mrs M was seriously unwell and that she and her baby were in danger. As a result there was a delay in delivering the baby by C-section and she was starved of oxygen, leading to her tragic death.
Severe abdominal pain
Thirty-seven-year-old Mrs M fell pregnant in 2008 and enjoyed a healthy and fairly uneventful pregnancy. However when she reached 31 weeks she suffered a sudden onset of severe abdominal pain and her husband, who is a nurse, called an ambulance.
The paramedics who arrived at the scene found that Mrs M was in severe pain, was pale and sweaty and her breathing was unusually rapid. Mrs M was extremely distressed and her husband advised the paramedics that he thought she was in hypovolaemic shock. This is an extremely serious condition where too much blood has been lost and can cause organ failure.
Incorrect diagnosis and medication
Mrs M was taken to hospital and arrived at 3am when she was examined. Mrs M was not experiencing contractions and her cervix was long and closed with a white vaginal discharge present. The registrar made a diagnosis of gastritis, a peptic ulcer or secondary pain from an existing back complaint.
Mrs M was given pain relief and for a short time her condition appeared to settle a little. However a few hours later Mrs M was in severe pain once again. It was noted that her uterus was large for her pregnancy dates and excess fluid in her uterus was suspected although not acted on.
Loss of the baby
Mrs M was reviewed at 7.45am when a different diagnosis of intestinal obstruction linked to adhesions, or biliary colic was made. Repeat blood tests were ordered and an ultrasound requested. By 8.05am Mrs M was in so much pain that the midwife was unable to examine her abdomen and Mrs M had also begun to vomit. The midwife was unable to read the CTG trace of the baby’s heart rate and called for assistance.
A registrar and then a consultant reviewed Mrs M and it was noted that the baby was in the breech position. The consultant ordered an emergency C-section and Mrs M was transferred to the operating theatre where the midwife noted that she could no longer detect the baby’s heart rate. The baby was born at 10am but was in a poor condition and passed away a short time later. A post mortem revealed that she had been starved of oxygen.
Hysterectomy and grief
While the C-section was being performed it was found that Mrs M had 2-3 litres of blood in her abdomen and she was suffering from a rare pregnancy complication called placenta percreta and a hysterectomy was performed.
Following her ordeal Mrs M suffered depression due to the acute grief she experienced at the loss of her much longed for baby girl and the fact that she would not be able to have any more children.
Sue Taylor, one of the medical law experts at Hospital Negligence, took on Mr and Mrs M’s battle for justice and highlighted the appalling failings of the hospital to the trust responsible. A compensation settlement of £70,000 was later secured for the couple who used the money to pursue the route of having another baby via a surrogate.
Case study: stillbirth of baby boy caused by hospital's C-Section refusal - £62,000
The lives of Julia and her husband Mike were shattered when their son Liam was stillborn due to the negligence of maternity staff who refused to carry out a C-section. If this had been done as Julia requested Liam’s life would have been saved. Nothing could make up for Julia and Mike’s loss however after their case was taken on by one of our expert solicitors they received an apology from the hospital responsible and £62,000 in compensation for their pain and suffering.
Julia experienced a traumatic delivery of her first baby, which resulted in an emergency C-section. When Julia fell pregnant with her second child she was afraid of this happening again and felt it would be safer if she elected to have C-section and was booked in. When Julia was 21 weeks pregnancy she was seen at the vaginal birth after caesarean section clinic of the hospital where she voiced these concerns and her wish for a C-section.
When Julia was 36 weeks pregnant she was reviewed by a doctor at the hospital and she explained again about her previous traumatic delivery and repeated her request for a C-section. Julia was advised by the doctor that in order to be granted an elective C-section she would need to pay for her own private psychiatric assessment to justify her reasons. This was contrary to recognised guidelines that state that a woman who has had a previous C-section and becomes pregnant again can elect to have a further C-section
Julia was given the details of a private psychiatric consultant however she could not afford his fees and the hospital therefore refused to book her in for a C-section. Julia was told that she would have to see how she got on with a vaginal delivery.
Baby not moving
A couple of weeks later Julia noticed that the baby was not moving as much as it had been and she was also suffering from some abdominal pain which came every five to six minutes. She was examined by a midwife who found she was not in labour. The midwife also checked the baby’s heart rate and sent Julia home.
The pain continued and just over two weeks later Julia went back to hospital to get checked out and was again sent home. The following morning Julia was very concerned as she had not felt the baby move at all since getting up. By now Julia was 40 weeks pregnant so this was very unusual and she again returned to hospital to seek help. At the antenatal clinic an ultrasound scan of her abdomen was carried out and the baby’s heart beat could not be found. Julia and Mike’s baby had tragically died.
Julia and Mike contacted our specialist solicitors for advice who investigated the care provided to Julia and their unborn son. Julia was understandably distraught that she had requested a C-section and was refused and felt this had led to the death of their baby. Julia and Mike’s case was investigated carefully by our expert solicitors, who found that it was negligent of the hospital not to have carried out the C-section as Julia had requested.
We obtained independent medical evidence which showed if the C-section request had been acted on it would have been carried out at 39 weeks and therefore the baby would have been born safe and well.
Although nothing could make up for Julia and Mike’s loss, we were successful in obtaining an apology from the hospital and £62,000 for their pain and suffering.
Case study: maternity staff fail to deliver baby in danger causing tragic stillbirth - £45,000
Michelle and her partner endured the trauma of the stillbirth of their baby boy due to the negligence of maternity staff, leaving them with deep psychological scars. Eddie Jones, one of the medical law experts at Hospital Negligence took on their case.
Sent home from hospital three times
When Michelle found out that she was expecting her first child she was overjoyed and her pregnancy progressed without any problems or complications.
When Michelle went into the early stages of labour she attended hospital as she had earlier been concerned that the baby was not moving. She was having contractions once every 10 minutes and was 1cm dilated. Michelle was told go to home and wait for the labour to progress.
The next day Michelle’s contractions had become more painful and frequent. They continued throughout the day and night into the following morning. Michelle thought she needed to go to hospital so rang her mother to take her.
Michelle was examined by midwives who told her she was still only 1cm dilated but the baby was in the ‘back to back’ position, which explained the pain she was in. She was told to go home and keep active.
Throughout the day Michelle’s pain increased significantly and had moved into her back. That night Michelle could not tolerate it anymore so her mother took her back to hospital at about 9pm. The midwife told Michelle that she was still only 1 cm dilated and that if she wanted pain relief she would have to stay in hospital on her own. Michelle was worried about being without her partner so reluctantly she returned home.
Return to hospital and pleading to be kept in
At 3am the following morning Michelle’s waters broke so she telephoned the hospital and was told to come in. Once there she was told she was still not dilating and should go home and wait for something to happen. Michelle was by this point very distraught about the prospect of going home and pleaded with the midwife to help her. She was told the best they could offer was to keep her on the ward with pain relief and although frightened Michelle agreed to go up to the ward alone.
Loss of the baby
The next day Michelle’s agony continued and after taking a bath she found herself in a heap on the floor. She was taken to the labour ward and given an epidural. The baby’s heart rate was now dropping with each contraction and she was exhausted and in tears. The labour still did not progress as needed despite Michelle being given a drip to bring on contractions. However several more hours passed before Michelle was finally taken for a C-section. Tragically when Michelle’s baby was born he was not breathing and could not be revived.
Michelle contacted the medical law experts at Hospital Negligence for advice and her case was taken on by Eddie Jones, one of the specialist solicitors. It was argued that if steps had been taken to deliver the baby sooner by C-section he would have survived. The hospital trust later admitted a breach of duty and paid Michelle £45,000 to compensate for the on-going emotional problems they were left with following her appalling care.
Case study: failures by maternity unit lead to stillbirth - £39,000
Helen lost her baby son after failures by a maternity unit. The medical law experts at Hospital Negligence took on her fight for justice and ensured the hospital trust responsible was held to account. Helen and her husband Bill were also awarded £39,000 for their pain and suffering.
Severe pain at 38 weeks
Helen and Bill were trying for a baby for some time so they were overjoyed when they found out they were expecting their second child. Initially everything progressed very well with the pregnancy and the couple were looking forward excitedly to the birth of their new arrival.
However when Helen was in her 38th week of the pregnancy she began to feel unwell with severe pain in her lower abdomen. Due to the severity of the pain and Helen’s pregnancy she and her husband attended the antenatal clinic of their local hospital. Helen was assessed by a midwife and performed a range of tests. She was then briefly checked over by a doctor who prescribed pain relief.
Infection missed by two medical professionals
Helen’s test results had shown that she was suffering from an infection, but this was overlooked by both the doctor and the midwife. The midwife said that her pain was from a previous C-section scar, and she was in early labour. Helen was sent home and advised to rest and take her pain relief.
After she returned home Helen’s condition deteriorated significantly resulting in her being rushed to hospital. Helen was very unwell but after being given antibiotics intravenously began to show signs of improvement.
However her baby son died in the womb as a direct result of the failure to treat Helen’s infection.
After contacting the team at Hospital Negligence Helen was represented by a specialist solicitor who investigated the serious failings by the maternity unit. After bringing a case against them the hospital trust admitted the errors and made a full apology. A compensation settlement of £39,000 was then negotiated on Helen and Bill’s behalf.
What Is a stillbirth?
A stillbirth occurs when a baby dies in the womb after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy. The loss of a baby before this stage of the pregnancy is known as a miscarriage. There are various reasons why stillbirths occur, although around half are connected to placental complications. Such complications usually mean the placenta, which links the blood supply from mother to baby, is not functioning as it should.
In addition to complications concerning the placenta, other reasons why a stillbirth may occur include:
- High blood pressure
- Low oxygen levels to the baby
- Congenital defects
Often, the cause of death will be known, and parents will be informed about the underlying conditions that contributed to it. However, on other occasions the death can happen suddenly, with the baby having appeared healthy beforehand. An unexplained stillbirth can obviously be extremely difficult for parents, and many have to live with not knowing what happened to their baby and what caused the death.
Negligence Causing Stillbirth
Although doctors and midwives generally take great care of patients, especially those going through pregnancy and labour, mistakes can happen. These errors can have very serious, even fatal consequences. In such instances, parents may be able to claim compensation for the suffering caused and the loss of their baby.
Examples of when good practice might not be followed by doctors or midwives include:
- Poor communication
- Failures to notice a fall in the baby's heart rate
- Failure to monitor fetal well-being adequately during pregnancy and/or labour
- Failure to diagnose and treat maternal illness or infection
- Antenatal risk management, including not acting on reduced fetal movements
- Referral practices
- Responding to growth restriction of babies in the uterus
Parents will want to know that everything possible had been done to help prevent the death of their baby. Providing an explanation about what happened is a basic requirement of good practice, but this does not always happen.
Making a Claim
If you would like to discuss your situation with a member of our friendly and sympathetic team, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We can help to get the information you are after, and if the death was caused by the negligence of a medical professional, we can help you pursue a claim for the compensation to which you are entitled.
The team at Hospital Negligence is highly experienced in claims of this type and we can provide the help and support you need in order to make a successful claim. We will be with you every step of the way and make sure you are constantly updated about the direction your claim has taken. The first step, however, is simply to get in touch.
Talk to Us
Speak to us today by calling us on 0800 014 7481 or allow us to contact you by leaving your details via our online enquiry form. Experiencing a stillbirth can be extremely traumatic, but allowing us to take on your stillbirth claim will ensure the process of seeking the compensation to which you are entitled need not be as stressful and upsetting as it might otherwise be.