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Woman receives compensation payment following injury after childbirth

A young woman, known only as SB to protect her identity, has settled her medical negligence claim against a hospital after suffering a diathermy burn and psychiatric injuries.

Medical notes

3 July 2017

SB was represented by medical negligence specialist solicitor Despina Kavadas of law firm Leigh Day. 

Towards the end of her second pregnancy SB was advised to undergo an elective caesarean section as her baby was in a breech position. 

SB went into labour naturally and advised the maternity unit that she was booked in for a caesarean delivery. When she got to the labour ward the midwives seemed unaware of this. When she was examined and found to be fully dilated SB was taken to theatre. 

She believed this was so a caesarean section could be performed, but in fact, she gave birth vaginally, despite being unprepared and anxious about this.  She was frightened that her baby would suffer brain damage as she was unable to deliver his head.  She felt that medical staff were ignoring her need for an explanation as to why she was giving birth vaginally.

While her son was being born she suffered a fourth degree tear which required repair under a general anaesthetic.  During this procedure she suffered a partial thickness burn from the diathermy equipment that was used for the surgery.

A letter of claim was submitted to the hospital on behalf of SB in relation to the burn that she suffered and for psychiatric injuries she experienced as a result of having to undergo a vaginal, rather than caesarean delivery.

The hospital admitted that verbal consent for vaginal breech delivery should have been obtained with an explanation of the benefit of the vaginal breech delivery and that preventative steps should have been taken to avoid SB suffering a partial thickness burn. A compensation payment was made to SB as a result. The hospital reserved its position on the cause of the psychiatric injury and losses consequent upon that and the burn.
Leigh Day medical negligence specialist solicitor Despina Kavadas said:

“Poor levels of communication between medical staff and my client left her fearful and anxious during her labour. She was rushed into the labour ward to give birth vaginally when she had been expecting to undergo a caesarean delivery.

“Because the medical reasons for this decision were not explained to her fully she was frightened that her child would be born with brain damage.

“Having sustained a fourth-degree tear during delivery she then suffered a diathermy burn during the procedure to repair this.”

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