Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Damages recovered – claim for mismanagement of labour

Case report: P v East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Clarke Willmott have recently been successful in recovering damages for a claim for mismanagement of labour leading to infection and a post traumatic stress disorder.

The Claimant, P, was pregnant with her first child M. On 11 June 2011 at 39+2 weeks gestation she had spontaneous rupture of the membranes. She attended the Defendant hospital and was admitted to the ward to “await events”. After 24 hours her labour had not commenced and on 13 June 2011 she was given a cervical assessment and administered a Prostin pessary.

On 14 June she was examined again and given a further pessary. It was noted on both occasions that she was apyrexial. A 3rd Prostin was administered on the evening of the same day.

On 15 June P reported feeling unwell and aching. She had a temperature and had vomited. Further observations were made on both P and her unborn baby and a decision was made for an emergency C-section to be carried out. She was also commenced on antibiotics. Upon delivery and examination of her placenta there were obvious signs of chorioamnionitis (infection of the placenta).

Baby M was in a poor condition and placed immediately on the Special Care Baby Unit. That evening he was transferred to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. P was not transferred there until the following afternoon.

M was diagnosed with E-coli septicaemia and congenital pneumonia. He subsequently spent 1 week in the special care baby unit on IV antibiotics before being discharged home.

Supportive expert evidence was obtained and concluded that had P been correctly advised on the morning of 14 June 2011, it was likely she would have been delivered by C-section later that day and it is likely that M would have been born in good condition and potentially without infection. The Defendant admitted breach of duty but reserved position in respect of causation.

A report was obtained from a Clinical Psychologist in August 2014 and it was confirmed that as a result of the events surroundings M’s birth and the separation from him following delivery, P was suffering posttraumatic stress disorder and required a course of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) treatment to help her deal with her condition. The Defendant released an interim payment of £2,000 which P used to obtain treatment on a private basis.

At conclusion of the treatment P was much improved although it was felt she would benefit from 2 or 3 more sessions, M felt happy that she was going to recover fully and negotiations were entered into in order to settle P’s claim.

Following negotiations P’s claim was settled for £8000 including the interim payment she had received and took into account the need for some future treatment as well as past losses and expenses.

If you or a family member has been affected by the issues in this article please contact our Clinical Negligence Team on 0800 316 8892 who will be able to advise you further.