Compensation secured for mother of stillborn baby

One of Moore Blatch’s clinical negligence solicitors, Dr Mala Sidebottom, has recovered compensation for the mother of a stillborn baby boy.

Ms M discovered she was pregnant around 28 weeks into her pregnancy, with her third child, and had her booking visit at Croydon University Hospital.  She had her first scan around four weeks later, following which her pregnancy was estimated to be 30 +5 weeks gestation.  Four weeks after that, Ms M saw an obstetric registrar in the antenatal clinic, who noted that the fundal height, a measure of the size of the uterus, was 30cms.  The fundal height should roughly equal the number of weeks of pregnancy.  However, although the registrar noted that Ms M was 34 +5 weeks gestation, she also noted that growth was normal.

Just over two weeks later, Ms M had a “show” and started to experience contractions.  She rang the labour ward and was told to wait until the following morning.  The next day, she attended the labour ward and was seen by a midwife, as well as an obstetrician.  The doctors were unable to locate the baby’s heart rate and intrauterine death was confirmed.

A post mortem was carried out, which confirmed intrauterine death of a growth-restricted male baby, at least one week prior to delivery.  It was also found that the baby suffered from a chromosomal abnormality.

Ms M wrote a letter of complaint to the hospital’s trust and the trust responded, acknowledging that mistakes were made and that, if a second scan had been carried out, it would have been evident that the baby was not growing properly and Ms M’s care could have been managed accordingly.  An apology was issued for the sad circumstances surrounding Ms M’s loss, which also resulted in the introduction of a policy of routinely re-scanning all women who book after 24 weeks of pregnancy, stating that this gives a greater degree of confidence to the gestation and growth pattern of the baby.

A letter of claim was sent to the trust but, in the letter of response, despite making various admissions the trust denied that any of these mistakes would have made any difference to the outcome and sought to blame Ms M for booking late and for smoking early in her pregnancy.  The trust also said that the chromosomal abnormality contributed to the outcome.

However, the claimant subsequently obtained expert evidence from a geneticist, stating that there was no reason to believe that baby was at risk of neonatal death due to the chromosomal abnormality.  The claimant also had obstetric expert evidence supporting the fact that the baby’s death would have been avoided if appropriate ultrasound scanning had been carried out.  Proceedings were issued in April 2015 and served in August 2015.

The case settled in October 2015 for a five figure sum.

Ms M said: “It is a shame it has taken this long and whilst no amount of money will bring my baby back, at least I can put it all to rest now.

“I would in particular like to thank Mala, who was very kind and understanding of my case. She explained all the medical jargon so I was comfortable knowing what it meant. She was conscientious about keeping me up-to-date on all progress and how the case was going. She was also very persistent in chasing the opponents to try and move my case forward as quickly as possible. I would recommend her to anyone.”

Moore Blatch clinical negligence solicitor, Dr Mala Sidebottom said: “No amount of compensation can bring back Ms M’s baby and she has to live with this knowledge on a daily basis.  However, I am pleased that Ms M has finally been able to bring an end to the litigation process, although it is sad that, having apologised to Ms M early on in the process, the Trust did not attempt to agree to settlement any earlier.”