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Case Study

Damages for family of baby who died 2 days after birth following a series of failings by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

The family of Robert (Bobby) Goddard instructed Arti Shah to act on their behalf. Bobby sadly passed away 2 days after his birth in April 2013 following a series of failings by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. An Inquest was held in June 2014 where the Coroner found that Bobby’s tragic death had been contributed to by failings in both midwifery and obstetric care. Following the Inquest, Arti subsequently settled a claim for damages for Bobby and his family.

Bobby was born by emergency Caesarean section at the Lincoln County Hospital following his mother’s admission to the Labour Ward with an abnormal trace at 40 weeks + 6 days. His mother, Cate, had been experiencing reduced fetal movements. On admission to hospital at 10.20am, a CTG trace was commenced. Despite regular monitoring, a decision to perform a Caesarean section did not take place until 1.20pm, 3 hours after admission. Even then, Bobby was not delivered until 2.11 pm, a further 50 minutes later. When he was born, he had suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain and required respiratory support. Sadly, his condition did not improve and he passed away 2 days later.

The Inquest heard from midwives and doctors involved in Bobby’s care as well as independent experts who commented on the treatment received. The Trust accepted that there had been a “very serious failure” in the ante-natal midwifery care, which had caused “shockwaves” to the staff involved. It was accepted that Cate had been given inappropriate treatment from the outset when her Body Mass Index (BMI) had not been correctly calculated and she had been classified as ‘low risk’. There were further missed opportunities in referring Cate for additional testing and for Consultant led care at later appointments to investigate the possibility of gestational diabetes. Had this taken place, it is likely that Cate would have been induced between 39-40 weeks, which could have avoided Bobby’s death.

The failings above were compounded by her treatment at hospital. There had been difficulties in the interpretation of CTG traces used to monitor the baby’s heart rate, and it was accepted, when questioned, that in reality, Cate’s was not a low risk pregnancy. Senior review should have been sought earlier which could have led to earlier delivery.

Arti instructed a team of experts including an obstetrician, midwife and neonatologist, who were all critical of the treatment received. Arti wrote a Letter of Claim setting out the allegations of negligence above, and inviting the Trust to make an early admission of liability. An admission was made on behalf of the Trust shortly before the Inquest, with a Letter of Apology sent to the family.

Thereafter, Arti instructed a psychiatrist to prepare reports dealing with the effect Bobby’s death had had on his parents before successfully negotiating settlement. Ian and Cate were both profoundly traumatised by the events surrounding Bobby’s death, to the extent that they both gave up their jobs and relocated to another part of the country to avoid any reminders in Lincoln.

The case is an important one at a time the law relating to secondary victims of psychiatric injury is far from clear.

Catherine Byrnes, Bobby’s mother, stated:

"It was an extremely hard decision for us to seek legal advice after we lost Bobby. We did not know what to expect or what the process would involve. We found Arti to be incredibly supportive. She explained the process in great detail and took the time to answer our queries and address any concerns. The level of compassion expressed by everyone at the firm was very touching and personable, and as a consequence….knowing that someone knew us, understood us and would fight for our family alongside us made us stronger. We feel empowered and content that this chapter can finally be closed with the best possible outcome after such a tragic event."

Contact us

For further information about birth injury claims and clinical negligence claims, please call Arti Shah on 020 7861 4139 or email arti.shah@fieldfisher.com.

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All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win, no fee. Find out more about no win, no fee claims.

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