Hospital failure to escalate delivery of baby causes significant injury to first time mother

16 October 2023

Hospital failure to escalate delivery of baby causes significant injury to first time mother

In mid-February 2021, our client was 40 weeks pregnant and had suspected that her waters had broken in the morning. She attended the defendant hospital but was sent home as she was not dilated enough. She was advised to return to the hospital when her contractions were more frequent or to return the following day, when she would be induced.

She later telephoned the maternity unit for advice, as the contractions were getting a little more frequent and was in a lot of pain. She was advised to stay at home and see how things progressed over the next few hours.

After a couple of hours, our client felt the urge to push so she attended the maternity unit. After being examined, it was confirmed that her waters had broken and was admitted to the labour suite. The labour was slow to progress whilst on the ward, therefore a decision was made that she would undergo an emergency caesarean section and her baby was born. 

Following delivery, it was noted that our client lost a lot of blood, but this was not escalated as a concern. Our client was transferred back to the delivery suite to be monitored. Her pulse rate increased and she reported that she felt unwell, yet no further action was taken. 

The following morning, our client continued to deteriorate and was subsequently transferred to a post-natal ward. She underwent a scan, which revealed multiple collections of fluid in the abdomen. She was taken to theatre for an emergency laparotomy, which is surgery that involves opening up the abdomen area to access the abdominal cavity (which refers to the space between the abdominal wall and the spine).

During the procedure, active bleeding, and clots in the peritoneal cavity (which is the space in between  the membranes  which line  the inside of the abdomen and pelvis)  were identified and removed. She was given a blood transfusion and was transferred to critical care. She was also treated for sepsis and had drains inserted to drain the blood clots from the abdomen. This procedure was repeated twice, as the previous attempts were unsuccessful. She remained in hospital for 3 weeks.

At the end of March 2021, our client re-attended hospital following further bleeding and  remained in hospital for a few days, as a haematoma was discovered in her pelvis. Whilst in hospital, she also suffered from a collapsed lung, which was reinflated. She has now recovered from this.

Our investigation

Sarah Cunliffe, medical negligence specialist at Shoosmiths LLP  investigated whether the hospital failed to escalate delivery of our client’s baby based on her symptoms and condition, which may have prevented further injury and further surgery. A number of potential breaches were identified following review of her hospital medical records.

Medical evidence from an expert obstetrician was obtained which supported the suspected negligence and a letter of claim was served  on the defendant hospital.

The defendant admitted, there was a failure to activate the obstetric haemorrhage emergency call following a 2-litre blood loss and that they failed to escalate matters following ongoing blood loss and our client’s deterioration.

The defendant also admitted that our client would have avoided the development of the blood clots, sepsis, and would have avoided the drainage procedure had earlier action been taken.

Our client suffered a financial loss as she frequently attended hospital appointments and accrued parking charges, which we included as part of the claim. We also included a loss of earnings claim for her husband, as he provided care for their baby whilst our client was in hospital and he also provided care and assistance for our client when she was discharged and recovering at home.

Sarah says:

"Whilst the hospital quickly admitted their failures, due to her injuries, our client lost precious time with her new born child which sadly she will not be able to get back."

Sarah Cunliffe successfully concluded the claim through negotiated settlement.

Quote from our client :

“Thank you so much for everything.”



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

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