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Even an apparently straightforward natural birth can go wrong if midwives and other medical staff fail to monitor the condition of mother and baby properly, sometimes with devastating results. It is the responsibility of those caring for the mother to recognise and manage risks effectively, from early pregnancy through to birth. If important procedures are neglected or overlooked, (including screening for foetal abnormalities, infections and other clinical conditions) both mother and baby can suffer devastating, even fatal harm.
Contact one of our specialists on 0333 987 4161 if you feel you have experienced negligent care during your pregnancy or birth.
Pregnancy and birth injury claims
Throughout the UK, the majority of pregnancies and childbirths go as planned and are relatively straightforward. GPs and other medical professionals in hospitals and maternity units can usually deal with minor or common complications swiftly to deliver adequate treatment and care, leading to a positive outcome.
Unfortunately, however, approximately six to eight babies per thousand are affected by birth injuries. Although this incidence rate is low, at less than one percent, a total of around 28,000 such injuries do occur every year on a national basis. Sadly, in many of these cases, it may have been possible to mitigate the degree of damage or perhaps even to have prevented or avoided its occurrence, given proper medical attention and care.
Examples of pregnancy and birth injuries caused by negligence include:
- Lack of screening or mistakes made during screening – babies can be screened for conditions such as Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, heart or brain defects and other developmental abnormalities, providing parents with the option to terminate their pregnancy.
- Midwifery and Obstetrics negligence – including induced labour, improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery and incorrect suturing.
- Mismanaged pregnancy complications – pre-eclampsia can cause the mother to have high blood pressure, putting her at risk of stroke, fits, HELLP syndrome and multiple organ failure.
- Failure to identify and treat a maternal infection – some untreated infections and illnesses can become extremely dangerous to unborn babies. Mothers can contract maternal sepsis (also known as blood poisoning or septicemia) which can be caused by any infection including Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), pneumonia or influenza.
- Miscarriage, still birth and neonatal death negligence – resulting from inadequate antenatal monitoring of a baby’s development through regular appointments. If medical treatment is administered without checking for pregnancy, miscarriages can occur or ectopic pregnancies can be misdiagnosed.
- Mistreatment of difficult births – failing to conduct or monitor a birth correctly or failing to monitor the condition of the unborn child for signs of distress can cause severe trauma to both mother and child.
- Injuries to the infant during and after birth – including infant brain damage or injury which can result in a stroke or Cerebral Palsy due to lack of oxygen (perinatal hypoxia), Erb’s Palsy (usually caused by shoulder dystocia), fractured bones, nerve damage/paralysis and seizures due to bleeding on the brain. Failure to diagnose and treat neonatal hypoglycemia (NH) in infants can also result in devastating and irreversible brain damage.
- Injuries after birth to the mother – such as third and fourth-degree perineal tears, and incorrectly performed episiotomies. Negligent caesarean sections can cause damage to organs, among other surgical injuries.
- Retained products of conception (RPOC) – retention of placental and/or foetal tissue that has been left in the uterus after a miscarriage, termination or delivery is not uncommon however timely diagnosis and treatment is crucial in preventing further complications.
Making a claim for compensation can provide for suffering, loss of earnings and the cost of rehabilitation or on-going care. Contact our medical negligence specialists today to find out how we can help you obtain maximum compensation for your pregnancy or birth claim.