Mrs M was pregnant and as a result of a previous miscarriage, was monitored regularly throughout her pregnancy. She attended hospital at 29 weeks’ gestation for a routine scan. This showed that her baby’s movements were reduced which was of concern. She was given steroids and was advised to return for review the following day. Unfortunately, it was overlooked that she had raised blood pressure and a significant amount of protein in her urine (proteinuria), both of which are indicative of pre-eclampsia which is a dangerous condition for both mother and baby.
She returned to hospital the next day when it was noted that her baby’s movements had improved. Again, her raised blood pressure and proteinuria were overlooked. She was sent home and the plan was to review her in a few days’ time.
The following evening, Mrs M began to feel unwell and struggled to breathe. She was taken to hospital where she underwent an emergency caesarean section when it was discovered she had a large placental abruption. This is where the placenta comes away from the uterus before the baby is born resulting in internal bleeding. It can also cause harm to the baby if it is deprived of oxygen and nutrients as a result. Fortunately, Mrs M’s son was healthy but she had a more stormy time. She required a further operation shortly after the caesarean section because of ongoing bleeding, admission to intensive care, she developed abnormal renal function and pulmonary oedema and needed a blood transfusion. She was discharged home after 9 days and then advised at a follow up appointment that she should not risk a future pregnancy because of the damage it could do to her kidneys. This was upsetting to both her and her husband as although they have 2 sons, they would have liked a third child. However, they followed the advice given and her husband underwent a vasectomy.
The hospital admitted early on that it was substandard that they failed to diagnose the pre-eclampsia when she first attended hospital. They also accepted that had they acted upon the raised blood pressure and proteinuria, she would have been admitted that day and had the caesarean section before the placenta came away from the lining of the uterus. The claim settled shortly after court proceedings were issued for the sum of £30,000.
Kathryn Watson – November 2014