Pregnancy and birth injury claims
Pregnancy and child birth is an exciting and emotive time. It is also a time of anxiety and a time during which the expectant mother may feel vulnerable and reliant upon the medical advice and care provided to her. From the time that a woman first realises that she is pregnant until the birth of her child, she will be monitored by a team of midwives and obstetricians to ensure that she and her baby are healthy and that things progress normally and as smoothly as possible. For most people, this period will pass without significant complication but sometimes complications do occur. When complications arise it is important that they are recognised and responded to correctly by the treating midwives and doctors to ensure the safety of both mother and baby.
If you have concerns about the treatment that you received during your pregnancy and child birth and if you or your baby has been injured as a result then you may have grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim.
Types of birth injury compensation claims
Pregnancy and birth injuries can take many forms:
Injuries during pregnancy
This is a relatively common but potentially life-threatening complication in pregnancy. It is caused by a defect in the placenta. It is easily diagnosable through regular antenatal checks on the mother’s urine and blood pressure. If allowed to progress unrecognised, preeclampsia can in the most serious cases, result in the death of the baby or mother or both. Sadly, there is no cure for preeclampsia, but it is a condition which should be recognised and very carefully monitored throughout pregnancy.
It may reach the point where an Obstetrician must weigh up the risks of inducing birth and delivering a premature baby against the risk of continuing with the pregnancy. The patient must be correctly advised and have the risks carefully explained. If the condition is not diagnosed or responded to correctly, the result can be devastating. We have successfully helped patients win compensation where this condition was not treated correctly.
Non-diagnosis of gestational diabetes
This is another well recognised and not uncommon complication of pregnancy. The mother can develop diabetes during her pregnancy. Certain factors increase the risk of this complication arising and where such risks apply the antenatal team should be particularly vigilant. The most common risk factors are maternal obesity and family history.
“Gestational diabetes”, as it is known, poses a serious threat to the health of both mother and baby and in some tragic cases can result in stillbirth. It is easily diagnosed and treated. Midwives, GPs or Obstetricians can detect high protein and glucose levels by way of routine urine and blood tests. Once diagnosed, diabetes can be treated with medication to ensure that the pregnancy progresses normally and that both mother and baby are healthy following delivery.
We have pursued claims for women whose gestational diabetes has not been diagnosed and treated and has resulted in injury or, in very sad cases, stillbirth of the baby and consequential psychiatric injury to the mother.
Injuries during childbirth
Complications during childbirth are sadly not uncommon. They are not always a result of medical negligence but in some cases, the complications are avoidable and should not occur. Complications during birth can result in damage to either the mother or the baby and, in some cases, to both. Many different complications can arise, but some of the most common ones are described below:
Unfortunately, many women suffer injury during childbirth and one of the most common injuries is a tear to the perineum (the area between the vagina and anus). There are different levels of severity of tear ranging from 1st – 4th degree. In most cases, these tears are unavoidable and are recognised correctly at the time of delivery. Correct recognition and treatment of even serious tears can, for the most part, limit the consequences to short term problems.
However, sometimes very severe tears can occur due to failures in care (such as the failure to intervene appropriately). Such tears can have much longer lasting consequences. In other cases, serious tears may go unrecognised and untreated, resulting in devastating and traumatic consequences including pain, loss of sensation and incontinence.
We have pursued many successful claims for mothers who have experienced these life-altering complications of childbirth, and secured compensation to cover the costs of private remedial surgery and treatments which can often be very expensive.
After a baby is delivered, the treating Obstetrician or midwife must ensure that the placenta is also delivered. If the placenta (or even a proportion of it) is retained within the womb, it can cause the mother to develop an infection. Such infections can often lead to more serious complications, in the most extreme cases necessitating hysterectomy and causing infertility. We have acted for women who have suffered such complications and have recovered compensation from hospitals who have failed to carry out this basic post-delivery check.
Injury through assisted delivery
If a labour fails to progress and the baby becomes stuck, the treating midwives and Obstetricians may have to carry out an “assisted delivery” using Ventouse or forceps. Inappropriate application or excessive force when using these devices can sometimes cause injury to mother (including perineal injury) and/or baby. We have represented many women and children who have suffered these unpleasant complications and sustained injury and scarring as a result.
Child brain injuries
We also act on the behalf of parents whose children have suffered a brain injury (such as cerebral palsy or erb’s palsy) as a result of oxygen deprivation or trauma during childbirth. These types of cases can be very complex, so it’s essential to instruct a medical negligence