Mother given wrong labour drugs at the Royal London | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Mother given wrong labour drugs at the Royal London

We settled an obstetrics negligence claim for Alison who was given the wrong drugs during her labour at the Royal London Hospital. She accepted £50,000 damages.

Alison became pregnant in early 1997 and was given an expected date of delivery of 21 November 1997. She attended the Royal London Hospital for care during her pregnancy which was uncomplicated.

She was admitted to the Royal London Hospital at 5.40pm on 30 November 1997, 9 days after her due date. She had been having contractions for 11 hours and an examination confirmed that she was 5cm dilated.

Alison requested an epidural but was told that no anaesthetist was available to administer the pain relief. Instead a nurse injected pethidine for pain relief and prochlorperazine to stop Alison vomiting. Syntometrine (a drug used to manage the third stage of labour containing ergometrine which causes prolonged contraction of the uterus) had also been drawn up.  The Midwife administered the syntometrine instead of the prochlorperazine.

By 7.30pm the baby's heart rate had dropped quite low to 90 beats per minute and a vaginal examination showed that the cervix was rigid and closed. Alison's healthy daughter Paula was delivered by emergency Caesarean section at 8.15pm. Both were released from hospital within a few days.

However, Alison and her partner were both extremely distressed by the events of her labour. Alison became depressed and at one point threatened suicide. She also had difficulty bonding with her daughter.

Alison instructed us to investigate a medical negligence claim against the Royal London Hospital for administering the wrong drug during her labour.

We obtained a report from an obstetrician who confirmed that the midwife had been negligent in administering the wrong drug. He also said that there had also been an unacceptable delay in performing the Caesarean section. Psychiatric opinion confirmed that Alison was suffering from severe post natal depression with features of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Proceedings were issued in December 1999 and the hospital admitted to breach of duty of care. Following negotiations they also admitted causing Alison's injuries. Negotiations were entered into and the claim was settled for £50,000. Alison did not have to pay any costs and received the entire award.