Eleanor suffered injuries as a result of negligent medical treatment during labour. She instructed Emma Zukowska to pursue a claim for compensation. The Defendant Trust carried out their own serious untoward incident investigation into the treatment they provided. The investigation showed that Eleanor’s care was not in accordance with their own guidelines. We recovered compensation for Eleanor.Eleanor fell pregnant with her first child who was sadly stillborn at 40 weeks and 11 days. There was no criticism as to the care provided to Eleanor or her unborn child prior to delivery. The complaint was with regard to the treatment provided during the delivery of Eleanor’s daughter.
Eleanor had attended the labour suite of the Defendant Trust showing signs of early stage of labour. Sadly, the staff who examined Eleanor could not hear a fetal heartbeat and they confirmed an intra uterine death. Eleanor still had to proceed to give birth. The first stage of labour progressed without complication. Unfortunately the second stage of labour lasted significantly longer than the recommended guidelines. The guidelines recommend 1 – 2 hours of passive second stage of labour. However, in Eleanor’s case the passive second stage of labour lasted for a total of 6 hours and 10 minutes.
During the second stage of labour, no one informed the on-call Consultant Obstetrician that there was slow progress with the delivery. In fact the Registrar wrongly reported that Eleanor’s daughter had been delivered. The Registrar never corrected this error.
When the Consultant Obstetrician arrived on the labour suite the following morning he was shocked to discover that Eleanor had still not delivered her baby. The medical team eventually used Neville Barnes forceps to deliver Eleanor’s daughter.
After the delivery
Eleanor suffered injuries during the delivery of her daughter. Her injuries included a significant post partum haemorrhage, a fourth degree perineal tear and the requirement of a defunctioning colostomy. Staff transferred Eleanor to theatre and they noted that the tissues were unusually pale and friable. This meant that Eleanor required a colostomy, as opposed to repairing the tear by stitches alone.
The Defendant Trust undertook their own investigation into the care provided to Eleanor. They carried out a Serious Untoward Investigation Report and confirmed that the second stage guidelines were not followed. They confirmed that the second stage of labour in Eleanor’s case was significantly longer than it should have been. The investigation also noted that the Registrar had incorrectly informed the Consultant Obstetrician that delivery had occurred and had failed to rectify this mistake.
The investigation accepted that Eleanor had suffered some injuries as a result. It did point out that forceps deliveries always have risks. The investigation acknowledged that she could have suffered a third or fourth degree tear with the use of forceps in any event. However, they considered that the prolonged second stage of labour did have an impact on Eleanor’s injuries. This made the post partum haemorrhage more severe and her tissues were in a poorer condition. Further, they considered that Eleanor may not have required a colostomy.
As a result of the injuries, Eleanor experienced significant pain and difficulty walking. Because of the prolonged labour, Eleanor suffered pain in her hips and she required physiotherapy to treat this. Eleanor developed pressure sores to her buttocks and a sore from the colostomy rod. She had to undergo reversal of the colostomy after some months and she continued to suffer some difficulties with pain around the stoma site and urgency of bowel movements.
Eleanor suffered significantly as a result of the stillbirth of her child. Firstly she lost her daughter and then she endured additional injuries caused by negligent treatment.
Making the claim
Because the Trust had already undertaken a thorough investigation, they quickly admitted that there was a breach of duty. They had asked a Consultant Obstetrician to give an opinion on the injuries that were likely to be caused by the prolonged second stage of labour.
The Trust were extremely co-operative in this case. This was a great help as we could reach a settlement amicably, without having to put Eleanor through a physical examination with medical experts. It also reduced the costs incurred in pursuing the claim.
This case provides a good example of how claims can be resolved more speedily and at a reduced cost. The Trust’s investigation meant that they admitted breach of duty early. This allowed the parties to concentrate on the issue of causation and we could then agree the appropriate level of compensation.
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