Harriet gave birth to baby Emmeline at 19:39 on 04 August 2013 at Whipps Cross Hospital. Due to catastrophic failings during her pregnancy and in the lead up to baby Emmeline's birth, she sadly died at only 8 days old. Instructions were received to investigate a potential claim against Whipps Cross Hospital and reports were obtained from experts in the fields of midwifery, obstetrics and neonatology.
Following receipt of her medical records and upon advice of the experts instructed, it was alleged that on 11 July 2013 the midwives responsible for Harriet's care failed to refer her for obstetric review in spite of the fact that the fundal height was measured at 4cm less than gestation, an early warning sign that Emmeline was not developing appropriately and therefore required close monitoring. At subsequent midwifery appointments further fundal measurements were not undertaken, which meant further opportunities to refer Harriet to the obstetric team for treatment and observation were missed.
In addition to these significant failings during the antenatal period, upon admission to hospital on 04 August 2013, the midwifery team were alleged to have made further catastrophic errors. In particular it was alleged that there was a failure to recognise the presence of fetal heart decelerations on the CTG trace and to call for obstetric review. Furthermore, rather than reviewing the CTG trace to check for any further abnormalities, the midwife left Harriet alone for 45 minutes during which time there were further deteriorations in baby Emmeline's condition. Upon transferring Harriet's care to another midwife, the first midwife failed to report that there had been any fetal heart abnormalities meaning the second midwife was not alerted to ongoing potential problems. Thereafter the second midwife failed to obtain a reading of the fetal heart rate and failed to refer Harriet to the obstetric team for immediate delivery.
It was alleged that with competent care additional growth scans would have taken place during the antenatal period, which would have led to continuous fetal heart rate monitoring on the onset of active labour, which if competently interpreted would have led to Emmeline being born earlier than was the case. Emmeline was in fact born at 19:39 on 04 August 2013. It was alleged that birth at any time prior to 19:23 on 04 August 2013 would have led to Emmeline being born alive and uninjured.
Within their Letter of Response, Barts Health NHS Trust, the NHS Trust responsible for the treatment provided at Whipps Cross Hospital, admitted that there should have been measurements made of the fundal height in the ante-natal period and that Harriet should have been referred for obstetric review. It was further admitted that with appropriate care, electronic fetal heart rate monitoring or ultrasound would have taken place during labour and the fetal distress, brain injury and death of baby Emeline would have been avoided.
Following receipt of the Letter of Response, attempts were made to quantify the claim. Though no amount of money can ever compensate a mother for the loss of her child, Harriet was entitled to receive the statutory bereavement award of £12,980 as well as an award for the psychological injuries she sustained as a result of the circumstances of Emmeline's birth and death.
At the end of the claim Harriet commented
"Steve and I were undecided as to whether to take legal action against Whipps Cross Hospital where Emmeline was born but following a recommendation, we met with Mark Bowman of Fieldfisher and from the start felt very comfortable with his approach."
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