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Hayes v Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

View profile for Carol Maunder
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The claimant, who had a significant medical history in relation to pregnancies, was 34 when her baby was stillborn in December 2010. After her waters broke early, at 27 weeks and four days into the pregnancy, she was admitted to the Princess Anne Hospital and later transferred to the Queen Alexander hospital on 8 December 2010. On 12 December 2010 she was reassured following a CTG trace that showed declerations. Blood tests that night revealed a rise in the claimant’s white blood cell count and in the CRP. A CTG trace taken by a midwife at 6am on 13 December showed that the baby’s heartbeat had become erratic. After carrying out a scan, the midwife spoke to the registrar about proceeding with a caesarean section. The consultant in charge confirmed things should be left as they were and reviewed at 3pm The review did not take place. A scan at 4.30pm revealed there was no heartbeat. The baby had died at 28 weeks and 3 days.

Breach of duty

Although the defendant’s initial treatment of the claimant was reasonable, it then fell below the expected standard when there was a gap of nine hours with no fetal monitoring. It was the claimant’s case that the delay in reviewing her and carrying out a caesarean section resulted in the stillbirth of her baby.

Causation

The post mortem revealed that at 28 weeks and 3 days, the gestation birth weight of 1,168 grammes was appropriate. The lung weights and the lung/body ratio were also normal. Although the cord had a knot in it, it was not described as occlusive. Maternal chorioamniotis may have been the cause of the fetal demise. It was the claimant’s case that, but for the breach of duty, it was more likely than not that the baby would have survived and developed normally. This was confirmed in the medical report by the claimant’s neonatal pathologist. Given the fetal movements noted on the morning of 13 December, delivery at that time, as suggested by the midwife, would with high probably have resulted in a live born infant.

Damages

The claimant, who already suffered from significant mental health problems, suffered an exacerbation of these. Following negotiations and an opening offer of £10,000 from the defendants, the case finally settled on 13 May 2014 for £25,000.