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Mother has hysterectomy after mismanaged complications following baby’s birth

A woman whose placenta was not delivered fully after the birth of her first child suffered complications that have resulted in a hysterectomy.

Posted on 27 May 2021

The mother, who we have called Olivia, developed Asherman’s syndrome as a result of the failure to manage a retained placenta after the delivery of her first child. After struggling to conceive and become pregnant for a second time, Olivia’s second baby was born prematurely and she suffered placental complications at delivery resulting in a total hysterectomy. As a result, Olivia will not be able not have any more children.

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust finally settled Olivia’s claim for a six-figure sum seven years after the birth of her first child, just weeks before it was due to go to trial in late 2020.

After Olivia’s first child, a daughter, was born at University College Hospital in 2013, the placenta was removed manually without anaesthetic after delivery of the placenta.

However, a week following the birth of her baby, Olivia began to suffer intense post-natal bleeding, which she felt was dismissed by midwives when she called the hospital several times after she was discharged. Almost three weeks after the birth, after her bleeding worsened, Olivia passed a large blood clot, and an ultrasound scan revealed “retained products of conception” in her uterus.

She was offered the option of antibiotics or surgery and, as a breastfeeding mother, chose the former. However, a week later the same thing happened, Olivia suffered a major vaginal bleed and had to call an ambulance. After a second ultrasound scan showed “retained products of conception” Olivia underwent surgery.

Olivia was diagnosed with Asherman’s syndrome, which has severely affected her fertility. She has suffered recurring adhesions, which numerous surgical procedures have not been successful in preventing. The syndrome caused complications during her second pregnancy, the premature delivery of her second baby and retention of parts of the placenta. Olivia had to have the total hysterectomy, which ended her hopes for a large family.

Leigh Day Partner Emmalene Bushnell represented Olivia in her clinical negligence claim against UCL Hospitals NHS Trust, which did not admit liability.

She argued that the hospital breached its duty of care when Olivia was not advised to return to the hospital when she first reported her concerns about heavy bleeding. When retained products of conception were identified Olivia should have been offered medical management, in addition to the management offered. Instead, she was offered conservative management consisting of discharge with oral antibiotics or surgical removal of the retained products. Very little information about the risks and benefits of the different options were explained. Eventually, Olivia underwent surgery, which took place when the risk of Asherman’s syndrome was increased.

Olivia said:

“Securing this settlement has provided me with closure of a tremendously difficult period of my life and has given me back the freedom to extend my family, if I wish, without the financial burden faced by many who are forced to seek alternative paths to having children.

“My case was long and complicated. Emmalene worked exhaustively to bring my claim to a successful conclusion and reach a fair settlement.”

Emmalene Bushnell said:

“Olivia approached Leigh Day shortly after she was diagnosed with Asherman’s syndrome. Since that time she has bravely undergone many painful procedures to treat adhesions, IVF and experience a very difficult second pregnancy, which resulted in a hysterectomy. I am glad to have been able to help Olivia secure compensation by which she can seek alternative routes to fulfil her desire for a larger family.”

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Emmalene Bushnell
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Emmalene Bushnell

Emmalene is a partner and experienced clinical negligence lawyer with over 15 years' experience.

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