Admission of liability for parents following death of 2 hour old baby in birth medical negligence case

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 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 Adam Copeland on 01223 702305 (or email him at adam.copeland@teeslaw.com).  Adam specialises in claims involving psychological damage following traumatic birth experiences and cases involving a neonatal death. Adam 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. 

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