Paul McNeil was instructed by the family of Rachel in connection for a claim under the Fatal Accidents Act.

In March 1998, Rachel fell pregnant for the third time. Her previous two pregnancies had been complicated by hyperemesis which had necessitated admission to hospital.

Although she was happy to be pregnant she was very concerned about the complications of the pregnancy. She attended her GP who referred her to a Community Midwife who had experience in hyperemesis of pregnancy.

The midwife visited Rachel on the 27 April. By that time she was confined to bed, was unable to take much food and was losing weight. The midwife indicated that all was well and that she did not need admission to hospital.

The midwife made arrangements to see Rachel on the Saturday, 2 May. Prior to the visit, Rachel began to deteriorate so much so that her mother came to look after her two sons. She remained bed-ridden and towards the end of the week began to notice that she had a pain in her calf. She was reluctant to call the midwife in view of the pre-arranged appointment.

On the 2 May, the midwife failed to attend without explanation. The family contacted the GP, but he did not see Rachel on the 3 May, because he did not think it necessary. During the evening of the 3 May, sadly Rachel suffered a massive pulmonary embolism and died.

We alleged that there was negligence on the part of the midwife, because she failed to follow up with Rachel during the week of the 27 April and failed to attend either on the 2 or 3 May 1998. No responsible midwife would have made these failings.

In addition we obtained evidence from a vascular surgeon who confirmed that if Rachel had been admitted to hospital as late as the evening of the 3 May she would have received anti-thrombolytic treatment which would have on balance of probabilities avoided the embolism and her death. Liability was denied and the claim was fixed for trial in May 2002.

The claim had also been pursued against the GP but the case was settled by the NHSLA acting on behalf of the midwife in the sum of £75,000.


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