Birth Injury to the Mother Claims
For most women, having a baby is a positive experience and they leave hospital having received excellent care.
Unfortunately, when something goes wrong or where negligence occurs, before, during or after childbirth, it can result in very serious physical and psychological injuries. This page sets out the types of birth injuries a mother may sustain. A mother may sustain physical and psychological injuries. Injuries sustained during childbirth can impact on the bond that a mother has with her new baby and the emotional injuries are as important as the physical injuries.
Types of birth injuries to the mother
Whilst it is a very rare event that a mother dies during or shortly after childbirth, it sadly does occur. If the death is because of negligence, then it is described as a wrongful death. This can occur when there has been excessive blood loss (haemorrhaging), surgical mistakes, pre-eclampsia, anaesthetic mistakes, or possibly uterine rupture. If this occurs, then it is likely that the Coroner will hold an inquest to determine the cause of death and a fatal claim can be taken.
Examples of negligent care can include:
- Not considering risk factors before delivery, such as a big baby and failing to advise the patient appropriately with regards to the options available for delivery
- Failing to avoid a tear during delivery by taking the appropriate and recommended steps
- Delay in diagnosing a tear
- Delay in repairing a tear
- Failure to repair a tear by a competent doctor in an operating theatre
- Failing to treat infection appropriately, leading to breakdown of the wound and possibly sepsis.
Where 3rd and 4th degree tears occur, it can result in serious injury to the mother. The nature of how the tear occurred is important in relation to whether there was negligence. In addition, the standard of the surgical repair and the doctor’s competency in performing the repair are examined when considering whether injuries are as a result of negligence.
A third-degree tear is a deep tear that extends from the vaginal wall towards the perineum and the muscle surrounding the anus. These tears require stitches or surgical repair by a competent doctor in an operating theatre.
A fourth-degree tear is the most severe of all tears. This tear involves the anal canal and rectum. This tear also requires repair in an operating theatre.
Serious, life-long injuries can arise if third or fourth degree tears are not repaired correctly. Good hygiene is also imperative so as to avoid sepsis.
Injuries include bowel incontinence, uncontrollable wind, a fistula developing between the vagina and anus, infection leading to sepsis. These injuries can have a major impact on a mother both physically and psychologically.
If bowel incontinence is severe it can result in a mother requiring surgery. Sometimes doctors can recommend that a stoma is created in order to allow the tear time to heal. A stoma is a surgically created opening which diverts the flow of faeces from the intestine to the opening and into a bag. This is extremely distressing for anyone but particularly for a mother trying to manage a new-born baby.
Compensation is sought for pain and suffering but also for loss of earnings, rehabilitation equipment and any other expenses incurred as a result of the injuries.
Women who have suffered tears during delivery are often reluctant and too embarrassed to discuss their injuries with anyone. We have successfully represented numerous clients over almost 20 years with third and fourth degree tears and we understand and are sensitive to the affect that the injuries can have on a woman.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that can occur during pregnancy and if symptoms are not picked up it can cause injuries to the baby and the mother.
Signs of Pre-eclampsia:
- High blood pressure
- Swelling in hands and face
- Nausea or sometimes vomiting
- Severe headaches
- Blurry vision
- Pain below the rib cage
- Protein in pregnant mother’s urine
- Shortness of breath
High blood pressure during pregnancy can be serious for both the mother and baby and it is imperative that a midwife or doctor does not ignore signs of high blood pressure.
Where severe pre-eclampsia occurs the mother and baby are at risk of injury as a result of:
- Placental abruption – This is a medical emergency in order to avoid injury or death to both the baby and mother.
- Eclampsia – this is where a pregnant woman has seizures or in some cases may result in a coma.
- Poor blood flow to the placenta which can result in oxygen deprivation to the baby.
- Increased risk of developing heart and blood vessel diseases.
- Hemolysis Elevated Liver Enzymes (HELLP) syndrome which is a life-threatening condition.
In cases of severe pre-eclampsia, a mother will be scheduled for a caesarean section. This is to protect the baby and the mother.
There are two main types of wrongful birth claims:
- Where a vasectomy or sterilisation was not performed correctly, and this resulted in an unwanted pregnancy.
- Failure to warn the parents of the baby’s disability or genetic condition
This occurs in less than 1% of vasectomies and can lead to unwanted pregnancy.
There are three main reasons why this occurs:
- Where the surgeon makes a mistake during the procedure and misses the tubes
- Where the tubes that are snipped reconnect on their own
- Where someone has unprotected sex during the first 12 weeks following the procedure
Sterilisation of a woman, where her fallopian tubes are sealed or blocked off, is 99% effective but it can result in pregnancy in the following circumstances:
- Where the procedure has been performed poorly
- Where the tubes re-join on their own
Failure to identify genetic condition:
Genetic testing is becoming more common where a pregnant mother can have a simple blood test or scan to determine if the baby has a genetic condition.
Where there has been a missed diagnosis or a failure to diagnose a genetic condition parents may have a claim for medical negligence.
An unwanted pregnancy claim will seek compensation for pain and suffering, both physically and psychologically, loss of earnings and the cost of a second vasectomy or sterilisation procedure.
Why choose Liston Flavin Solicitors?
Liston Flavin Solicitors specialise in maternal birth injury claims and provide caring and sensitive advice in a professional and supportive manner. We are a specialist medical negligence law firm and have represented numerous clients who have been injured or families where there has been a fatality as a result of poor care during or after pregnancy.
Types of Medical Negligence Claims
Brain Injury Claims
Brain injuries can have a devastating effect on an individual and their family, particularly if the injuries are as a result of medical negligence. Brain injuries can be catastrophic and result in traumatic and life-changing injuries.
Stroke Misdiagnosis Claims
A stroke can occur when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off or reduced, preventing the brain tissue getting the oxygen it needs. Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential.
Birth Injury to Mother Claims
Unfortunately, when something goes wrong or where negligence occurs, before, during or after childbirth, it can result in very serious physical and psychological injuries.
Birth Injury to Baby Claims
Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Claims
Gynaecologists are doctors who specialise in investigating, diagnosing, and treating disorders of the female reproductive system.
Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor or medical professional fails to accurately diagnose a patient. It can arise when there has been a incorrect or delayed diagnosis of a medical condition such as cancer, meningitis, diabetes, heart disease or head injuries.
A&E Negligence Claims
A&E departments deal with many different types of medical emergencies. These departments are highly pressurised and emergency care can sometimes go wrong and cause serious injury to the patient. Accident and emergency claims can arise where negligent delay or incorrect medical treatment results in the patient suffering from illness or injury, which would not have occurred but for the negligent care.
Dental Negligence Claims
If your dentist has made a mistake or an error whilst treating or diagnosing a dental issue then you may have a claim for dental negligence.
Cauda Equina Claims
Cauda Equina Syndrome is a medical emergency and needs to be treated urgently to avoid long-term irreparable neurological damage. If your doctor has failed to recognise the symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome and failed to refer you for emergency treatment, then it is possible that you have a claim for medical negligence.
Surgical Injury Claims
Surgical negligence claims arise when mistakes occur during surgery which result in the patient being injured.
Spinal Injury Claims
Defective Medical Device Claims
Despite strict standards and rigorous testing of medical devices, sometimes products are defective and can cause serious personal injury. This may require a patient having to undergo further surgery to remove and replace the defective medical device.
Nursing Home Claims
Some of the most vulnerable in society reside in care homes and nursing homes and whilst most people who reside there receive an excellent level of care. There are exceptions, however, where failings in care by the staff who are responsible for caring for the vulnerable and elderly results in poor care and medical treatment which leads to injury and can tragically lead to death. This can result in a claim for medical negligence.
Covid 19 Claims
If you have suffered from unnecessary illness or harm because of a delay in accessing the required medical care, then you may have a claim for medical negligence.
GP’s play an important role in ensuring that patients are assessed appropriately, prescribed the correct treatment, and referred on for specialist care without delay.
If a GP makes a mistake which causes a patient to suffer unnecessary pain and financial loss, it may be possible to pursue a claim for medical negligence.