It has been reported in the “ I ” Newspaper on the 28th November 2017, that Mr. Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, has announced that women who suffer the trauma of stillbirth or life-changing injuries will be offered an independent investigation to find out what went wrong and why, including the potential for full term stillbirths being covered by coronial law (Coroner’s), to help give parents answer when something has gone wrong.
Williamsons Solicitors have expertise in dealing with cases relating to Still Births and Neonatal Deaths as a result of negligent treatment. Tim Slow, Senior Solicitor within our Clinical Negligence Department has vast experience with such cases and he has acted on a case where a young lady experienced not one, but two still births, which resulted in an admission of liability and compensation.
The events were that, in November 2013, 23 weeks into her pregnancy, the Client’s baby was stillborn. No precise diagnosis was given for the cause of this, however, she was advised that this could be down to an incompetent cervix with an infection present, and it was uncertain whether the infection had caused dilation. As a result, if our Client were to become pregnant again, she would be closely monitored and have regular cervical length scans. If these scans detected any change or shortening, a stitch would be inserted to strengthen the cervix.
In March 2014, our Client became pregnant again. After her 12 week scan, she had fortnightly cervical length scans, and each time, she was told that she was measuring at 30 mm, which was average/normal.
On 16 August 2014, our Client attended Scarborough Hospital with abdominal pain, similar to that suffered with her first pregnancy. Bloods were taken, the results came back as clear, and the cervix appeared to look fine. On or around 17-28 August 2014, our Client recalled having an internal examination with swabs been taken, but she was never given results of these investigations. During her 20 week scan, the Sonographer said that cervix had shortened by 8 mm taking it down to 22 mm, and our Client was advised to tell her Midwife.
Our Client had a Midwife appointment straight after her 20 week scan, and informed her about the 8 mm shortening and at her attendance on 16.08.14 regarding the abdominal pains. No investigations took place during this appointment. On 1 September 2014, she attended a consultant appointment where a urine test was undertaken which showed a little bit of blood present, and she was told that this was probably urine infection. Our Client had said that she was experiencing a lot of discharge and pressure in the abdomen. The consultant then reviewed her medical records and noted the results from her 20 week scan. Following this, she was referred to have another cervical length scan on 3 September 2014.
On 3 September 2014, at Bridlington Hospital, the cervical length scan detected that the mucas plug had gone, and our Client was sent to Scarborough Hospital as she had started to bleed. Following examination, our Client was told that her cervix was open with the membranes bulging through. She was advised by a doctor that was she miscarrying the baby, but she was not in labour.
Two consultants then explained our client about having a “rescue stitch”. The “Rescue stitch” procedure was unsuccessful because there was not enough cervix to stich, as she was fully dilated. She asked to be transferred to Hull Royal Infirmary, whereupon she was closely monitored and, unfortunately, on 11 September 2014, her baby stillborn.
During our investigations, it became apparent that the 1st still birth might also have been avoidable, had proper attention been given to our client’s previous medical history.
A support network for people who experience Still Birth’s and Neonatal Deaths can contact SANDS which is there to support bereaved families after such an event. More information on the assistance SANDS offers can be found here (https://www.uk-sands.org/).
If you require any further information about Still Births or Neonatal Deaths, please contact our Clinical Negligence Department who are there to support you through this difficult time.