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One day old baby died as a result of negligence

Compensation awarded to parents of baby who died at Chelsea and Westminster hospital

Posted on 27 April 2009

Leigh Day & Co has been able to successfully settle a claim for compensation for parents whose baby died when he was just over a day old as a result of a hospital’s negligence.

Ms Hodges’ pregnancy with her first baby proceeded smoothly until she was admitted to Chelsea & Westminster Hospital for induction of labour, 10 days past her due date. Ms Hodges was cared for by midwives, with no doctor involvement. The induction was started and the baby’s wellbeing was supposed to be assured by the use of continuous fetal heart rate monitoring. However, despite the monitor revealing that the baby was in distress, no attempts were made to deliver him until the monitor revealed that the baby’s heart had stopped beating. Baby Oliver was born not long after that but, unfortunately, was extremely ill. He had to be resuscitated by a paediatrician and required oxygen. Unfortunately, he died the following day as a result of his injuries. His parents were told that the cause of death was brain damage caused by a deprivation of oxygen shortly before birth.

Of course, his parents were devastated and raised concerns with Chelsea & Westminster Hospital as to how their baby came by his death. The hospital carried out an Internal Investigation, which identified a number of failings in the management of Ms Hodges’ labour and concluded that the baby should have been delivered earlier, at which point he would have been in a better condition.

Despite the Internal Inquiry Mr Murphy and Ms Hodges had a number of questions about the care that she and her baby had received and wanted the hospital to be held accountable for the terrible loss they had caused. Despite numerous requests for information and explanations, the questions remained unanswered. Accordingly, they consulted Leigh Day & Co solicitors.

Following the instruction of solicitors, we were able to obtain from Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust an admission that the care that they had provided was negligent and had resulted in Oliver’s death. The hospital wrote the family a formal apology.

Due to the mental trauma that Ms Hodges suffered as a result of her baby’s death, at the time of her second pregnancy Ms Hodges could not contemplate a further labour and delivery managed only by midwives. Chelsea & Westminster Hospital were unable to promise that an obstetrician would manage her second labour and delivery and fearing that the same would happen again Ms Hodges felt she had no choice but to pay for private obstetric care.

Leigh Day & Co was able to recover compensation to pay for Oliver’s funeral expenses, including a memorial headstone, as well as the costs of private obstetric care and to reimburse Ms Hodges for the loss of earnings she had sustained as a result of her inability to work following her baby’s death. Despite the admission from Chelsea & Westminster NHS Foundation Trust it took some time to negotiate settlement of this claim. However, finally the NHS Trust made an offer that the family considered reasonable, when considered in terms of how much compensation a Judge was likely to award at Court if they had to go all the way to trial, as, of course, no amount could truly compensate them for what they had lost.

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