Paul McNeil was instructed by this family in connection with a claim for medical negligence arising out of the care during the pregnancy and delivery of their daughter, Sally at St Peter's Hospital on 18 June 2008. At the time of the pregnancy J was 38 and Sally was a very much wanted baby. Both parents are professionals working in the City of London.
In the early afternoon of Tuesday 17 June J reported to the antenatal unit at the hospital complaining of absence of fetal movements. A fetal heart monitor was put in place and J was asked to indicate fetal movement by clicking a button on the machine.
There were no movements and J was extremely concerned. She was seen by a Registrar who examined the trace and pronounced it to be normal. She performed a manoeuvre to "wake the baby up" and left soon after with J in serious distress. The Registrar had erroneously recorded three movements on the CTG and one acceleration with no decelerations.
In fact this CTG had been very abnormal and had shown sinusoidal features which are very distinctive and easily recognisable to all responsible midwives and obstetricians. Nevertheless J was sent home most definitely not reassured (as the notes had indicated).
She was very worried and knew that things were "not right". She felt no further fetal movements during the afternoon and evening even though she was checking regularly. Anxious and distressed she returned to hospital at around 10.30pm.
A midwife checked the previous CTG and clearly was worried that it was abnormal. A further CTG was arranged and a doctor came to urgently review. The trace showed a similar sinusoidal pattern and steps were taken to initiate an emergency caesarean section.
Sally was delivered at around 01:15 hrs in extremely poor condition. The evidence on the trace had been of a massive feto-maternal haemorrhage and not withstanding extensive support and treatment in the special care baby unit, sadly Sally died about 12 hours later.
The loss of Sally was devastating for this family.
An internal investigation by a consultant at the hospital soon recognised that the trace had strong features of a sinusoidal pattern which was likely to be evidence of an ongoing maternal massive feto - maternal haemorrhage. Ironically the midwife who saw J in the afternoon had spotted this but she was overruled by the Registrar.
We were instructed in place of previous solicitors who had failed to progress the matter substantially. Since breach of duty of care was likely to be admitted and the main issue was likely to be causation of injury i.e. what would have happened had steps been taken to deliver Sally in the early afternoon we instructed a neonatologist.
The defendant's legal team took a pragmatic approach and the matter was settled in the sum of £125,000 in early 2014 including claims for Sally herself and the parents.
After the case Richard Sally's father, a partner himself in a law firm, said:
"Paul helped us with a sensitive case for my wife and I. What marked Paul's ability out for us and we particularly valued was just how effective he was at building up what was needed to develop a successful claim and providing experienced guidance on driving the matter to a conclusion without taking unnecessary diversions. I think when as a client you are dealing with thinking about an event which may be extremely distressing to go over again and again with lawyers and other professionals, to have Paul's perfect blend of efficient action, and fierce representation his client's interests, tempered by wisdom of advice born from years of experience is invaluable."
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