Background

On 3 January 2013 the claimant gave birth at Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to a healthy baby and a few minutes later the placenta and membranes were delivered by controlled cord traction. 

The midwife recorded that the placenta and membranes were slightly ragged and that a piece of the placenta, a cotyledon, might have been missing.  However this suspicion was not passed on by the midwife to the doctor which amounted to a breach of duty of care.  The claimant experienced two large blood clots and continued to pass heavy blood loss but again the midwife failed to refer to the doctors. 

Further midwife records did not show any observations of the claimant between 5.45am and 7.30am.  Intravenous fluid was administered but there were no observations between 9.45am and 12.10pm.  At 12.10pm the claimant became unresponsive and was found to be in shock. 

She was diagnosed as suffering from primary postpartum haemorrhage and was taken to theatre where part of the placenta was removed. 

Injury

The claimant lost more than half of her total volume of blood. She went into shock and believed she was going to die.  This was her first pregnancy and she was later diagnosed as having developed an adjustment disorder with symptoms of anxiety, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, avoidance and hyper arousal.  The adjustment disorder was severe for approximately three months with mild and moderate symptoms thereafter. 

She continued to suffer with residual symptoms requiring therapeutic treatment which at the date of settlement had not yet been commenced because the defendant denied liability.  However the prognosis was good in that after treatment had been commenced she was likely to make a recovery six months thereafter.

Damages

The case was settled out of court on a global basis with no particular breakdown of damages. However the breakdown is estimated to be as follows:

  • Damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity £17,000
  • Damages for future treatment costs £2,000

There was also a claim of £2,000 for care provided by the family for looking after the baby.

Advisors

For the claimant

  • Counsel: Daniel Bennett, Doughty Street Chambers
  • Solicitor: Lucy Lawson, Russell-Cooke LLP

For the defendant

  • Solicitor: Kennedys Law LLP

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