The Medical Negligence Team recently compromised a claim by way of mediation, for a lady who had a stillbirth as a result of negligence.
A brief history of the matter is that the client’s ante-natal care was shared by her General Practitioner (“GP”) and a Consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist. At the ante-natal visits with the Consultant the client had ultrasound scans and she was reassured that the baby was developing normally. However, the GP was concerned that the baby was small for dates. At 33 weeks the GP did what is considered an old fashioned manual measurement using a tape measure of the client’s abdomen (fundal height measurement) this measurement expressed in centimetres’, roughly corresponds to the gestational age, so at this attendance given that the client was 33 weeks pregnant the fundal height should have been 33 cms. It measured 27 cms so the GP was right to be concerned. The client brought the GP’s concern to the attention of the Consultant 2 days later. An ultrasound scan was carried out and the client was reassured by the Consultant that although she was “tidy” there was nothing to be concerned about.
At subsequent appointments with the Consultant there were repeated ultrasound scans in the Consultant’s rooms which demonstrated that the baby’s growth had stalled. The Consultant, however, did not carry out any investigations, but simply continued to monitor the client by way of ultrasound surveillance. At 37 weeks (a Friday) the Consultant made arrangements for the client to have a scan in the designated ultrasound department of the hospital the following Monday. Over that weekend the client could feel the baby move. However, at the scan on the Monday morning the baby’s heart beat could not be detected and the client was told her baby had died and she had to deliver her still born baby. The post mortem established that the baby was perfect save that the baby had stopped growing (intra-uterine growth retardation).
The medical experts who assisted in the case were of the opinion that it was negligent not to have carried out any investigations as to why the baby had stopped growing. Indeed, the decrease in fetal growth was, on the balance of probability, sufficient to justify earlier delivery by Caesarean Section and if that had happened the baby would have survived.
The Team negotiated an award of significant compensation which award was far in excess of the amount that is awarded in these types of cases, but that was of small comfort to our client who lost her precious baby. They client’s objective in bringing the case was to ensure that lessons were learned so as to prevent this happening to another family. She was assured at the Mediation that lessons had been learned by the Obstetrician.