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Baby died after symptoms of ruptured appendix ignored by hospital

A woman whose baby died shortly after birth has settled a medical negligence claim against Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust following a delay in recognising that she had a ruptured appendix.

Posted on 19 May 2020

The woman, known as Alison, and her husband found out she was expecting in May 2015. In mid-December, Alison was unwell with what she thought was a stomach bug. She saw her GP who advised her to drink plenty of fluids and not to worry.
At 10am on 22 December 2015, she attended a routine antenatal appointment. She advised the doctor that she had some abdominal pain and the doctor did some checks and told her she was dehydrated. No other concerns were mentioned and so Alison said she would rehydrate at home.
Later that day, Alison suffered severe pain and attended Walsall Manor Hospital at around 3pm. There was a delay in her being reviewed by a consultant and a diagnosis of appendicitis was only suspected at around 9pm.
Alison’s daughter began to show signs of distress and so it was decided to perform an emergency caesarean section at 10.20pm. During the caesarean section, surgeons were called, and they discovered that Alison had a ruptured appendix and abdominal infection as a result.
Alison’s baby developed respiratory distress syndrome shortly after her birth and was intubated and ventilated. On 24 December 2015 the baby collapsed and CPR was commenced. An ultrasound of her brain showed bleeding and she suffered a further collapse. Sadly, she did not recover.
Alison and her husband instructed Stephen Jones to represent them at the inquest into their baby’s death and investigate a claim against the Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust.  Stephen instructed experts to review the care that was provided to Alison and they were very clear that she should have been admitted to hospital following her attendance at the antenatal clinic and that there were significant delays in diagnosis and delivery once Alison was eventually admitted to hospital. Without these, their baby would have been born earlier and would not have died.
The Trust made no admissions in relation to the attendance at the antenatal clinic but admitted that diagnosis should have been made sooner once Alison attended hospital and her baby should have been born earlier. However, the Trust denied that the negligent delay in delivering the baby caused her death.

Eventually, substantial compensation was paid by the Trust in respect of the baby’s suffering and Alison’s physical injuries, PTSD and fertility treatment.
Alison said:
“The most difficult thing that we have ever had to do, or will ever have to do, is handing our baby girl back to the hospital staff for the final time. Our lives have been transformed by what happened; we only ever wanted one child and we have been unable to have the family we dreamed of. We sincerely hope that lessons have been learnt and that no other parents have to endure the pain and anguish we went through and continue to suffer."

Stephen Jones, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, said of the case:

“Alison’s symptoms were ignored by a number of medical staff. She was given incorrect advice and suffered a ruptured appendix which has left her with on-going pain, fertility problems and scarring.  Whilst I am pleased that the Trust agreed to pay compensation for the poor care Alison received, I am disappointed that the NHS Trust refused to accept full responsibility and have not apologised to Alison and her husband for their failures.”