Tees secured an admission of liability and a £15,000 settlement for Melissa*, whose daughter Enid* was born 13 weeks prematurely and sadly died soon after birth.
Melissa suffered a premature rupture of membranes, was admitted to hospital for observation and monitoring, but was then negligently transferred to a hospital that was not equipped to care for such pre-term babies. Tragically, Enid died from complications which could have been avoided had she been cared for in an appropriate specialist unit.
At 25 weeks pregnant, Melissa suffered a small vaginal bleed and premature rupture of her membranes (PROM) - a serious condition during pregnancy which can trigger premature birth, or lead to an infection.
Concerned for her baby’s health, she went to hospital. She was admitted to a specialist obstetrics and maternity hospital, which had a neonatal unit, equipped to care for the most premature babies, i.e. those born at or under 28 weeks’ gestation. Melissa felt she was in a good place to receive a high standard of maternity care, and she trusted her doctors and midwives to keep her baby safe. She was monitored by consultants and midwives for several days. On at least one occasion she went into pre-term labour and she got to 5cm dilation of the cervix. There were some concerns about infection and she was given antibiotics.
After several days, Melissa was transferred by ambulance to another hospital, closer to her home. This hospital did not have facilities to care for babies born at less than 28 weeks’ gestation. Melissa's cervix was fully dilated on arrival and her baby was in a difficult position. An emergency caesarean section was performed. Baby Enid needed help breathing and was immediately taken to the Special Care Baby Unit.
Enid’s “breathing tube” became dislodged and, tragically, after six unsuccessful attempts to re-intubate, she died at just two hours old. This was, of course, absolutely devastating for Melissa. Enid was a much-loved and wanted daughter, and Melissa desperately wanted answers about the circumstances of her birth.
Melissa contacted Tees about a potential medical negligence claim, and we acted for her on a “No Win, No Fee” Agreement". We examined all the evidence, including Melissa’s medical records, and instructed specialists in maternity care to provide expert evidence. Melissa argued that the decision to transfer her was inappropriate and negligent, and that Enid would have lived if she had been born in the specialist unit equipped to care for very pre-term babies.
The hospital accepted that the unit to which Melissa was transferred was inappropriate for a woman so early in her pregnancy and that had Enid been born in a specialist unit, it was likely that the doctors would have been able to replace her breathing tube and she would have survived. The claim settled for £15,000 (partly due to Enid’s very short life). For Melissa, the process provide much-needed closure about the circumstances of Enid’s birth and the decisions which lead to her death.
Still birth and neonatal death solicitors
Losing a baby or child is the worst thing a parent can go through. It is absolutely heart-breaking, and parents often feel isolated, guilty and depressed following a traumatic birth experience. It can also be very difficult to talk about the birth – but there are people who can help. If you’d like to talk about making a claim, call our specialist midwifery and obstetric negligence solicitor Gwyneth Munjoma on 01245 294274 (or email her at email@example.com). Gwyneth specialises in claims involving psychological damage following traumatic birth experiences and cases involving a neonatal death. Gwyneth will let you know if you have a claim, how the process works and what support your family is entitled to.
What is premature rupture of membranes (PROM)?
PROM is where a mother’s waters break too early in her pregnancy (before 37 weeks’ 'gestation).
Babies are surrounded by amniotic fluid (waters) in the womb, surrounded by a membrane (sac). The membranes normally rupture shortly before labour starts (waters breaking). If the membranes break before 37 weeks, the baby could be born prematurely, or suffer complications if an infection develops in the mother’s womb. PROM can have serious consequences for the health of mother and baby. It is very important that doctors make a quick diagnosis and monitor the situation.
*Client names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Chat to the Author, Gwyneth Munjoma
Senior Associate, Chelmsford officeMeet Gwyneth
Legal 500 UK 2021
'I have worked with Gwyneth Munjoma for several years and always found her to be a very effective claimant clin neg solicitor. She is clearly very experienced and a pleasure to work with.'
Legal 500 UK 2021
‘Gwyneth Munjoma’s clinical negligence work is unparalleled. She is able to take complex, sensitive information and provide it in a clear way while being sensitive to the impact it may have on her client. Striking the right tone when delivering difficult information, yet ensuring the recipient fully understands with as little upset as possible, is a true skill.’
I needed assistance with a claim for a serious medical incident that took place without my consent. With Tees, I was immediately put at ease. I was very happy with the end result and would recommend Tees to anyone needing help with a medical negligence claim.
Thank you seems inadequate for the very conscientious way you've helped me. To be treated with such unbelievable kindness and generosity of spirit is, I think, hard to find in any profession today. I feel truly privileged to have known you. I'll never forget you and will forever be grateful.
I cannot thank Gwyneth enough, she was so friendly, kind and took the time to explain everything so that I understood every aspect of my case. She was sympathetic to areas that were sensitive to me and made the whole process, which could have been painful completing, easy for me.