At 41 weeks, Kate attended the maternity unit at the Royal Devon and Exeter Wonford Hospital with suspected ruptured membranes. In contravention of both NICE and the Trust's own guidelines, a vaginal examination was performed by hand rather than using a speculum, thereby exposing Kate and Poppy to infection. When Kate returned to the hospital the following day, a CTG was performed which demonstrated marked features of severe fetal distress.
Despite the concerning CTG, there was a further three hour delay in delivery. Poppy was consequently born with a hypoxic brain injury and sepsis due to a bacterial infection acquired during the vaginal examination the previous day. Her critical condition required immediate intensive care was and she was moved to a specialist unit in a nearby hospital. Sadly, with the consent of her parents, Poppy's care became palliative and she died. Following a report from the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch in which a number of failures were identified, the Royal Devon and Exeter Trust admitted that with competent treatment, Poppy would have survived.
Fieldfisher brought a claim against the Trust on behalf of Poppy's estate and on behalf of Kate and David each as victims in their own right. As a primary victim, Kate was entitled to recover damages for the physical injury she suffered consequential to the protracted labour and emergency caesarean, as well as for the psychiatric harm caused by losing a baby. David, who witnessed the traumatic events during his daughter's birth and her subsequent treatment, brought a claim for the psychological damage he suffered as a result.
Following settlement, they said: "It is now time to move on with our next chapter and for Poppy to be fully at rest. By no means has justice been fully served, nobody lost their job or livelihood, nobody lost more than our little girl and we will always live with anger at Royal Devon & Exeter for what they did to Poppy and our family. We could not have done this without Mark. We cannot thank him enough for his help, kindness and understanding. I couldn't think of anyone better to help us through such a horrific time. We would also like to thank Henry for helping us. We are so very grateful to you all.
"We hope to never need you in the future, but, if such need should arise, Fieldfisher will be the first place we turn to."
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