This was Ms DI's first pregnancy and she was placed on the low risk pathway, with an estimated due date of 6 March. She was booked for an induction on 18 March but on 16 March, her contractions started and she attended Homerton Hospital.
Ms DI was noted to be 3cm dilated and the baby's heart rate was auscultated. She was admitted. Further reviews took place and, on one occasion, Ander's heart rate could not be found for seven minutes. No CTG monitoring took place.
One hour later, Ander's heart rate had dropped, which Ms DI queried. She was advised the baby was "sleepy" due to medication, and a plan was made to review again in a further hour. Sadly, when this review took place, no heartbeat could be detected. Obstetric review took place for the first time since Ms DI's admission, and an ultrasound scan confirmed Ander's stillbirth.
Distressingly, Ms DI was left to tell her partner the news of Ander's stillbirth, She delivered Ander the following day via forceps delivery, during which she suffered a third-degree tear. She had not been given the option of a Caesarean section.
A Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) report was issued, which identified 10 separate failings of care, including:
- Not recognising Ms DI was in established labour when she attended hospital
- Inappropriate levels of monitoring for mother and baby
- Failing to escalate for senior review when Ander's heart rate could not be heard for 7 minutes
- Failure to monitor with CTG.
Safety recommendations were also made.
Ms DI and her partner AK contacted Fieldfisher and were represented by Arti, who specialises in dealing with stillbirth cases.
Arti and her team investigated the case, sending an early letter inviting the Trust to accept liability. The Defendant accepted that the care and treatment provided to mother and baby fell below a reasonable standard, admitting liability. Causation of Ander's stillbirth was made later. No admissions were made in respect of the third degree tear, nor a secondary victim claim put forward on behalf of AK.
Reports were obtained from three experts, and served on the Defendant before proceedings were commenced, together with witness evidence setting out the ongoing impact on the family, including the difficulties with Ms DI being able to return to a job that she loved.
It was only at the Round Table Meeting (RTM) more than three years after the injury that the Defendant finally accepted that Ms DI's physical injuries would also have been avoided had she and Ander received appropriate treatment.
Arti settled the claim on behalf of the family for £250,000. Part of the agreement included the Trust sending a letter of apology to the parents acknowledging the loss of Ander but also the physical injuries suffered by Ms DI.
After the case concluded, the parents said:
"There are no words that can properly describe how devastating it was to lose our son Ander. It is a heartache and pain that we will carry for the rest of our years. Knowing that he could have been with us today had practices been adhered to, made us determined to do what we could to fight for him, and importantly, for the review of quality in care provided, to ensure that other families do not suffer such a loss.
It was a comfort to us to have Arti by our side during this process. From the moment of meeting Arti, we felt her kindness, support and patience during the hardest time in our lives. Arti was excellent throughout, always making herself available to us, and providing us with advice and guidance for every detail. We are so grateful to Arti for all her care, attention and work, which have meant so much to us."
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