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Trust admits liability for stillbirth of baby

Trust failed to recognise urgent delivery of baby was needed

11 January 2013

Clinical negligence solicitor Ellen Parry has settled a case on behalf of the parents of a stillborn baby delivered at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust admitted liability for the stillbirth of their baby and confirmed that it was deeply sorry for the errors made and the distress and suffering caused to Miss X.
Miss X’s pregnancy was uneventful and her estimated date of delivery was 7 May 2009. 

At around 2:00am on 5 May 2009 Miss X began to experience pain and was taken by ambulance to Kings College Hospital.  At 3:05am a vaginal examination was carried out by a midwife who was unable to ascertain the position of the baby.  A second vaginal examination was carried out at 3:15am by another midwife, who then artificially ruptured the membranes to establish the baby’s presentation. The parents had not been informed of the risks associated with artificially breaking the waters to determine the position. The baby’s heel was actually the lowest part, rather than the head, and so the situation became an emergency.

A senior registrar was called and the baby’s feet were delivered at 3:25am. At 03:34am the baby’s buttocks were delivered, and at 3:35am the cord and the abdomen were delivered. Once the abdomen and cord were delivered, the need for urgent delivery became even more pressing.

A second registrar attended the delivery room at 03:45hrs and a manoeuvre was attempted to enable the delivery of the baby’s shoulders, which later occurred at 04:00hrs. The baby’s head was high and deflexed and therefore another manoeuvre was attempted to deliver the head, without success. A consultant was not called until 35 minutes after delivery of the feet and 25 minutes after delivery of the cord and abdomen and was not present for the birth. The register attempted a further manoeuvre which enabled the baby’s head to be delivered at 04:03hrs.

Sadly, the baby was delivered with no signs of life and resuscitation was abandoned after 15 minutes. A root cause investigation was carried out by Kings College Hospital and its concluding report was highly critical of the management of Miss X’s delivery.

Following Leigh Day’s investigation, the Trust admitted liability for the baby’s death due to the 25-minute delay between the moment the baby’s abdomen and cord were delivered, and the freeing of the arms and shoulders.  During that the time the baby was deprived of oxygen and died as a result.  The Trust’s own investigation confirmed that once it was apparent that delivery was not going to be spontaneous within 5 minutes, certain manoeuvres should have been carried out to deliver the baby.  If the birth been managed appropriately, Miss X’s baby would have survived.

Leigh Day negotiated a good financial settlement and Miss X and her partner hope that in bringing this case forward, the Trust will improve their training and practices in the management of breech and obstructed deliveries.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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