Background

Russell-Cooke's client, 'X', gave birth at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in 2016. Towards the end of the labour, concerns were raised about the baby's heartrate. X was advised to have a caesarean in order to deliver the baby more quickly. 

The surgery appears to have been performed by a registrar (of 'ST3' grade) with assistance from a more senior doctor (of 'ST7' grade). During the caesarean, X's bladder was cut through from front to back, but this was only recognised after the baby had been delivered through those incisions. A consultant was then asked to attend and repair X’s bladder.

As a result of these events, X developed a vesico vaginal fistula (an abnormal 'tunnel' between the bladder and the vagina). She underwent surgery to repair this, following which she made a good recovery. 

The Claim

X came to Russell-Cooke after receiving the report of a serious incident investigation carried out by the trust. In the report, the trust acknowledged that the ST3 doctor had cut through the front and back walls of X's bladder during the caesarean, but suggested that "abnormal anatomy" could have been a factor in this. 

Having obtained copies of X's medical records, Russell-Cooke sent an early letter of claim to the trust, alleging that its staff:

  • failed to ensure that the caesarean was performed by a sufficiently senior, skilled and experienced surgeon;
  • failed to appropriately identify the bladder and/or move this away from the uterus; and
  • negligently made incisions through both walls of the bladder and initially failed to recognise that this had occurred, with the result that the baby was delivered through the incisions.

In its response, the trust denied that the ST3 doctor was insufficiently experienced to perform the caesarean, but admitted that making the incisions in the bladder in this particular instance was negligent.

After the extent of X's injuries and losses caused by the negligence were investigated, the parties entered into negotiations and the claim settled for compensation of £40,000. The trust also apologised to X for the substandard treatment which had been provided to her.