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Clarke Willmott successfully settle medical negligence claim

MW had a history of depression and self-harm from the age of 12. She had previously taken anti-depressants and her condition was stable. Falling pregnant in late 2016, MW attended her first antenatal appointment at 10 weeks gestation and the pregnancy was deemed low risk. At this first appointment, MW informed the midwife that her sister had suffered with gestational diabetes; however this was not recorded in her notes.

The pregnancy seemed to progress naturally until around 25 weeks when it was noted that she had ‘accelerated growth velocity’. By 30 weeks, MW had sugar present in her urine which was noted again a few weeks later. In the final stages of pregnancy, MW was warned she would have a big baby.

Despite this warning, MW was allowed to go 13 days over her due date and was eventually admitted to hospital for induction of labour. Labour was slow (26 hours in total) and meconium was present in the amniotic fluid during the latter stages of birth.

Ultimately, MW was taken for a caesarean section and her baby girl was safely delivered weighing 5510g. Post birth, the baby struggled to feed and was given both breast and bottle feeds. One month after delivery, MW was reviewed at home and noted to be suffering from post-natal depression and had begun to self-harm. She recalls being extremely shocked at the size of the baby when she was delivered and felt like she had missed the new born stage.

MW was subsequently admitted to a mother and baby unit where she remained as an inpatient for around 6 weeks. She received substantial therapy and support during this stay, resulting in significant progress and upon discharge MW was able to bond with her baby.

It was our case that whilst MW was likely to have a large baby, with the correct care and regular growth scans, the baby’s accelerated growth would have been confirmed earlier in the pregnancy. Induction of labour would have been offered sooner than it was had the fetal weight been appreciated following the scan. For any baby estimated to weigh over 5kg or above, a caesarean section should be encouraged. Particularly for women diagnosed with diabetes, a caesarean section should be advised where the baby is estimated to weigh over 4750g.

It was the Claimant’s case that with sufficient advance knowledge about the size of her baby, MW would have had time to adjust and get her head around the situation which would have avoided her deterioration and subsequent admission to the mother and baby unit.

Expert evidence was obtained which was supportive of the claim, and a Letter of Claim was sent to the Defendant. The Letter of Response was received which made admissions in respect of breach of duty, but not causation. It was the Defendant’s case that MW was always going to have a big baby and that her subsequent mental deterioration could not have been avoided. Eventually, after disclosure of our expert evidence on causation, we were able to secure settlement in the sum of £25,000.


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