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Hospital apologises for baby's death

The parents of a baby, who died at 8 days old as a result of substandard care, have obtained an apology and compensation from the Trust responsible for North Middlesex Hospital. The parents were represented by Leigh Day & Co's specialist clinical negligence solicitor, Nicola Wainwright.

Posted on 02 November 2004

The parents of a baby, who died at 8 days old as a result of the substandard care his mother received during her labour and his delivery, have obtained an apology and compensation from the Trust responsible for North Middlesex Hospital.

The baby’s mother had a normal and uneventful pregnancy. When her waters broke she attended the North Middlesex Hospital, where her labour also appeared to be proceeding normally. The only cause for concern was that the doctors could not carry out an ultrasound scan as the scanner was locked in a room and they did not have the keys. Partly because of this, the doctors did not realise that the baby was breech until some hours after her labour had commenced.

Even once they realised the baby was breech, they allowed the labour to continue, rather than considering a caesarean section. The baby’s heart rate was being monitored by CTG trace, which over an hour before birth revealed that the baby was in distress. Still the doctor took no action.  Finally, the doctor performed an episiotomy and the baby’s buttocks and hips were delivered.  However, it was still not until 18 minutes later that the baby was fully delivered.

The baby had suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen

Unfortunately, at birth the baby did not have a heart rate and required resuscitation.  His parents were informed that he had suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen to his brain. At two days old he had a heart attack. Due to his poor condition at 7 days of age his parents had to make the heartbreaking decision that should he have a further attack, he should not be resuscitated.  The following day his condition started to deteriorate and that afternoon, on medical advice, they agreed to care being withdrawn.

At the time that their baby was receiving care from the Hospital, the Consultant told the parents that the doctor who delivered their baby had not done anything wrong.

The baby’s parents sought legal advice from Leigh Day & Co. who obtained reports from medical experts on their behalf. The experts said that once the baby’s breech position had been identified, the baby’s mother should have been offered a caesarean section, which she says she would have accepted.  Also, when it became clear that the baby was in distress the doctor should have ensured that the baby was delivered as a matter of urgency - certainly not allowing a delay of 18 minutes.

Following receipt of this medical evidence and the details of the claim against the Trust, the hospital admitted that the standard of care they had provided to these parents and their baby was substandard. The parents were able  to put forward claims for bereavement damages, compensation for the pain and suffering experienced by their baby and for the psychiatric injury of both parents as a result of witnessing their baby’s distress.

The claim for compensation was agreed without the need to go to trial.

Leigh Day & Co. also obtained a letter to the parents in which the hospital offered a heartfelt apology for the fact that their baby died whilst under the care of North Middlesex Hospital and the fact that their care was substandard.  The Trust also agreed to provide the parents with details of the improvements they have made since their baby’s death to prevent a similar incident happening again.

Of course, no amount of money can compensate parents for the loss of their baby, but the apology and compensation represents acceptance of responsibility by the Trust for the poor care provided and the tragic consequences this had.

The parents were represented by a clinical negligence specialist solicitor, Nicola Wainwright. For more information please call 020 7650 1262.

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