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Baby stillborn after hospital failed to recognise development issues

Baby J was stillborn, scans showed that he was developing slowly and was underweight at key dates during the pregnancy. This should have been recognised and he should have been delivered earlier, but the medical team failed to take action and sadly the baby died.

Our approach

We argued that the hospital was negligent by failing to act upon antenatal ultrasound scans that showed baby J was not developing at the expected rate. As well as this, those caring for J's mother failed to accurately measure J in the womb, or compare scans to each other, which would have highlighted the issue.

In cases such as this, when a baby is not developing at the normal rate, a decision to opt for early caesarean section delivery should have been made. Due to the hospital's failure to act on the slow development of baby J, this option was overlooked. We argued that J could have been delivered alive and in a healthy condition at 38 weeks.

The outcome

J's parents were awarded a payout of £62,000 and received an apology from the NHS trust responsible.

The case in detail

This was a tragic case as it involved the stillbirth of J. Essentially an ultrasound scan which was preformed was not correctly acted upon. Further during the pregnancy the Midwifes and Doctors failed to carry out accurate measurements of J nor were any comparisons made to the previous scans. Had such a comparison been made the hospital involved would have realised that there were issues with J's size and J would have been delivered by caesarean section at 38 weeks as he was small for dates. Had delivery taken place he would have been born alive and in good condition. As it happens J's mother was allowed to proceed with the pregnancy past 38 weeks and when she was finally admitted to hospital she was given the tragic news that J had died.

J's parents were understandably distraught about what had happened and spent many months not being able to sleep, having nightmares and having suicidal thoughts. They received some Counselling from the hospital and were eventually discharged with no follow up. When J's mother became pregnant again she was paranoid about her health and the health of her unborn baby.

J's parents contacted Mintons as they could not understand how a pregnancy during which they had not had any problems would result in the death of their baby before he was born. They had tried to seek answers from the hospital but the hospital did not provide any detailed explanation on what if anything had gone wrong.

Mintons then took steps to seek independent medical evidence which confirmed that there were failures by the hospital in failing to act upon abnormal ultrasound scans. Further the medical expert evidence suggested that delivery should have taken place at 38 weeks gestation and had delivery taken place at 38 gestation J would have been born alive and in good condition. On the one hand, J's parents were relieved that they had got to the bottom of what had happened but disappointed that they had to go through the legal process to find answers.

Eventually, we were able to secure an award of £62,000 for J's parents as well as an apology from the Trust for their failures. The compensation will never make up for the loss that J's parents have suffered but at least they feel that justice has been done and settlement was reached without having to start Court proceedings.