Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Trust’s failure to screen for and manage gestational diabetes

Damages recovered following stillbirth

Kerry Fifield, Partner was instructed to act for a couple following the stillbirth of their daughter in October 2010. The firm was instructed under a Conditional Fee Agreement in May 2011.

The Claimant’s antenatal care was provided by the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. At 36 weeks the Claimant attended an antenatal appointment and it was noted that there was protein in her urine. She was referred to the John Radcliffe Hospital and remained in overnight but the following day discharged home. The Claimant had strong risk factors for gestational diabetes; her body mass index (BMI) was greater than 30.

The Claimant contacted Peterborough Hospital on 5 October (she wanted to have her baby near to her family) to advise that her contractions had started, she was advised to call back when her contractions were more intense. On 7 October the Claimant was admitted to Peterborough Hospital. Following a scan no fetal heart beat was seen. The Claimant delivered her baby on 9 October; the baby was stillborn. The post mortem suggested the possibility of maternal gestational diabetes.

Prior to instructing us the family had made a complaint through their GP in respect of their antenatal care and the GP practice advised that they had failed to adopt the NICE guidelines in relation to screening for diabetes in pregnancy. Independent medical evidence was obtained from Mr Andrew Farkas, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. He advised that the NICE guidelines of 2008 were not followed in this case. If a glucose intolerance test had been carried out at 24-28 weeks it would have been positive which would have resulted in the Claimant being cared for in a specialist diabetic antenatal clinic and the stillbirth could have been avoided.

A Letter of Claim was served in May 2012 on the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, rather than the GP, and a Letter of Response was served the NHS Litigation Authority in October 2012 with a full admission in respect of breach of duty and causation. We obtained further instructions from the family and it became evident that the father had suffered psychological injury over and above that of a normal grief reaction. A separate claim was pursued for the father as a secondary victim. His claim included psychological damages and also a loss of earnings claim. The claim settled by way of negotiation. General and special damages were recovered for £63,000 for both Claimants.

If you require advice in respect of a stillbirth or birth injury claim on behalf of mother or child please contact Kerry Fifield who specialises in this area.