Clinical Negligence

Failure to diagnose pre-eclampsia during labour causes fit

Miss F had a history of endometriosis and had undergone multiple laparoscopic procedures prior to falling pregnant.  She was under the care of a consultant obstetrician for her antenatal care and the final stages of her pregnancy were managed at hospital.

At 40 weeks gestation Miss F was admitted and given routine labour treatment and assessments.  At 11:30am she was reviewed by the on-call registrar and was given IV fluids, pain relief, ranitidine (for a raised blood pressure), and an ultrasound scan was booked for the next day.

Not only did Miss F have a raised blood pressure, but she was also suffering from epigastric pain which was much more severe than would normally be expected in the latent phase of labour.  She also had a raised AST level.  However, the registrar failed to order repeat blood tests or to consider pre-eclampsia.

At 12:30pm a urine test came back as positive for protein and protein creatinine ratio. However, the test results were not analysed and the midwife did not escalate any concerns.  Once again no repeat bloods were ordered.

Miss F’s pain worsened and she was examined by a consultant obstetrician who suspected she was in early labour.  She was given pethidine for her pain at 4:20pm.

At 8pm Miss F had a bloody show and was suffering from headaches and vomiting.  She reported seeing flashing lights but no further investigations took place.  Miss F was given paracetamol.

Miss F’s cervix was becoming dilated.  Her severe pain continued and at 11:10pm she was given further pethidine and metoclopramide.

At 1am Miss F had a fit, which was witnessed by her partner who raised the alarm.  Her back was arched, her limbs were rigid and retorted, she was foaming at the mouth and biting at her knuckles and lips.  She was transferred back to the delivery suite where it was realised she had pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome (a complication of pre-eclampsia).  Magnesium sulphate was finally started at 1:23am and Miss F underwent a c-section at 2:30am.

Jennifer Waight, specialist clinical negligence lawyer acted for Miss F to bring a claim for compensation.  She argued that the hospital had failed to diagnose pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome promptly.  Whilst the baby was born unharmed Miss F, unfortunately, sustained a psychiatric injury as a result of the traumatic circumstances, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and moderately severe depression.

Jennifer successfully obtained an out-of-court settlement of £17,500 to compensate Miss F for her pain and suffering and to pay for her future psychiatric treatment.

Jennifer specialises in obstetric cases.  If you would like to ask Jennifer a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about any personal injury, contact Jennifer Waight at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701374 in confidence.

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