Gynaecology & Obstetrics Claims

Although the vast majority of pregnancies, gynaecological treatments and obstetric procedures have a positive outcome, complications and mistakes do affect a small percentage of patients. As a result, given the sheer number of patients treated by the National Health Service each year, a significant number of complaints and claims arises. If you have suffered as a result of a gynaecological procedure and possible clinical negligence, you may have wondered about obtaining compensation. If so, we suggest you read on for further advice.

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Obstetrics and Medical Negligence

Although linked, the medical specialities of obstetrics and gynaecology comprise different aspects of female reproductive healthcare. Specifically, gynaecology covers the diagnosis, investigation and treatment of disorders, including oncology or cancer treatment.

In contrast, obstetrics focuses on managing pregnancies, confinement and labour as well as the health of new mothers immediately after the delivery of babies. In straightforward pregnancies, midwives play a leading role. Obstetricians deal with complications, as well as reproductive endocrinology and infertility treatments for couples who are experiencing difficulty in conceiving.

Occasionally, patients have consultations with obstetricians for counselling about infertility, pre-conceptual advice and fertility treatment. However, most obstetric consultations and treatments are antenatal, to manage patients’ pregnancies before labour starts.

Some of the circumstances that can lead to claims for obstetric and gynaecological problems include failure on the part of the medical professional to:

  • Manage high risk cases appropriately, including pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH).
  • Interpret scans correctly to ensure that there are no serious abnormalities in the foetus.
  • Diagnose ectopic pregnancies promptly.
  • Selecting an appropriate delivery method, opting for the use of forceps only when necessary.
  • Interpret cardiotocograph (CTG) traces of the baby’s heart rate and recognise the need for birth by caesarean section, should it arise.
  • Manage performance of the delivery, especially the third stage of labour to avoid unnecessary damage to the mother and baby.
  • Avoid damage during caesarean sections, particularly to the patient’s bladder, uterus and bowel.
  • Suture episiotomies correctly

Unfortunately, in severe cases, errors in obstetric care can cause injuries both to the mother and to the unborn baby. Possible outcomes include cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy (also known as obstetric brachial plexus injury or OBPI), dislocated hips and, in the worst cases, death.

In addition, there are two types of wrongful birth case. Firstly, a negligence claim might occur because of errors in contraception, sterilisation, vasectomy or improper termination leading to the birth of an unplanned baby. Secondly, a valid claim could relate to new parents who were unaware of the likelihood or presence of a disability in an unborn child and – as a result – were unable to consider whether to prevent or terminate the pregnancy.

 

Gynaecology and Medical Negligence

Apart from uterine disorders, genital prolapse and the treatment of ovarian and cervical cancers, gynaecologists also specialise in treating women with CIN (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia), pelvic inflammatory disease and chlamydia.

Very occasionally, however, errors and oversights occur in diagnoses, treatments and surgical operations. Consequently, claims for gynaecological negligence could occur due to:

  • Not requesting appropriate blood test scans and x-rays, or misinterpreting their results.
  • Failure to diagnose or treat an infection promptly and correctly.
  • Delayed diagnosis of cancer or other illnesses following smear tests.
  • Inadequate performance of surgical techniques including colposcopy, dilatation and curettage, pelvic floor procedures and sterilisation.
  • Surgical mistakes, e.g. instruments or swabs left inside the patient.
  • Incorrect insertion of an intrauterine contraceptive coil, perhaps also involving perforation of the uterus.
  • Unsatisfactory performance of a diathermy loop biopsy or LLETZ procedure, also called a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP).
  • Incontinence worsened by surgery.
  • Infection leading to a loss of childbearing potential.
  • Lack of proper consent to medical procedures.
  • Unnecessary total abdominal hysterectomy.
  • Damage to other internal organs during hysterectomy.
  • TVT (tension free vaginal tape) and injuries to the obturator nerve.
  • Not carrying out an adequate physical examination, or not taking the patient’s history into account.

Naturally, patients expect to be in safe hands.

Recognized as a major operation, hysterectomies have a lengthy recovery time. Nowadays, there are several less invasive alternatives; in particular, other treatments are available for heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) and fibroids. Notably, it is not necessary to remove the ovaries during every hysterectomy; the removal of a woman’s ovaries without informed consent could also constitute hospital negligence.

Naturally, patients expect to be in safe hands. In the gynaecological and obstetrics arenas, mistakes can have devastating effects on female health and psychological well-being. Compensation addresses the financial needs created by injuries and their effects on patients’ lives; the amounts awarded to patients take into account the severity of the circumstances and the suffering experienced.

If your gynaecologist or obstetrician failed to suggest the appropriate tests, operated incorrectly or failed to diagnose an illness in sufficient time, you may be entitled to compensation for NHS negligence. Importantly, making a complaint and seeking one’s just compensation also helps to prevent the same mistake from happening in the future.

If you have been affected by the medical issues described above and need to know more about a possible claim, we invite you to contact us today to speak to one of our professional advisors. When you call, you will find that our legal team is approachable and sensitive to clients’ needs, yet determined with at-fault providers and clinicians. Our female advisors are sympathetic, understand the issues and know how to deal with these personal health issues in a practical way. Importantly, we offer work on a no-win-no-fee basis, so there is no financial risk to you.

Please telephone us on 03339 874161 or click here to arrange an initial consultation.

Common Questions  Relating to Negligence Claims

In this scenario a claim must be undertaken by a “litigation friend”: this is usually a close family friend, family member, or a spouse who acts in the best interest of the victim.

How much you can claim will depend very much on the impact and severity of the injury received and ongoing expenses and loss of income.

You may need to be assessed by a medical team for us to better understand your limitations caused by your  injury.

Compensation will take into account future physical and psychological support required, specialist equipment and adaptions to your home that are needed. Also, any future pain and suffering that you may experience will be taken into account alongside the loss of work and income related to your injury.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to negligence please contact one of our specialist solicitors on 0333 987 4161 to discuss your claim.

In The News

During the financial year 2017/18, NHS compensation payments to claimants rose to some £1.63 billion. This upward trend looks destined to continue, at least in the short term, according to NHS Resolution’s annual report. The organisation handles legal claims against National Health Service care providers in the event of negligence cases.

Read more . . . 

Following the publication of a formal medical report, a mother of young children has described her feelings of desolation caused by the surgical removal of the wrong fallopian tube. Clinical support worker Chelsea Thomas recounted her experiences at Manor Hospital, part of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, during March 2018.

Read more. . . 

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