Medical Lawyers Call for Improved Monitoring during Childbirth

25th September 2019

Medical Negligence Lawyers acting on behalf of dozens of families affected by avoidable brain injuries at birth have today urged the NHS to take urgent action to improve the monitoring of babies during childbirth.

The call to action comes after a report issued by NHS Resolution revealed that issues with fetal monitoring were a leading contributory factor in 70% of cases.

The figure was released as part of a wider report detailing the first year of NHS Resolution’s scheme to drive improvements in maternity and neonatal services and to ensure that those affected as a result of negligence are better supported.

Today, leading Medical Negligence Lawyers from Simpson Millar who represent the families of children suffering from brain injuries urged NHS chiefs to carry out an immediate investigation to determine what more could be done to improve patient safety – including reviewing the equipment and the training available.

Ian Cohen, Head of Medical Negligence at the law firm said, “It’s deeply concerning to read that as many as 70% of babies who suffer from an avoidable brain injury at birth do so, in part, because of issues with fetal monitoring, and this is something that should be investigated with immediate effect.

“What is considered best practice, what equipment is used and is it fit for purpose, and what training is available and is it consistent from NHS Trust to Trust?

“The report itself even identifies that there is an ‘urgent need’ for an evidence-based, standardised approach to fetal monitoring in England, and it is imperative that action is taken urgently and that any findings are communicated with immediate effect to provide reassurance and comfort to patients.

Cohen went on to welcome other aspects of the report, including the transparency with regards those areas where improvement is needed to support both victims, and NHS staff.

He said, “It is important to stress that this report demonstrates a huge step forward in providing transparency when it comes to areas that need addressing within the NHS, which has been identified time and time again as fundamental in ensuring that lessons are learnt, and improvements made.

“We also welcome the efforts made by NHS Resolution to introduce mediation into more medical negligence cases, and to achieve an early admission of liability – both of which can help victims of avoidable brain injuries access the care and rehabilitation support they need sooner, which can have a huge impact on their quality of life.”

Simpson Millar’s Medical Negligence team is currently representing dozens of families with children who suffered devastating injuries during birth, including the parents of baby Zuzannah Bienias who died aged just 36 minutes at West Middlesex Hospital in March 2016 after she sustained head injuries during her delivery and starvation of oxygen to the brain.

Commenting on the case the family’s Medical Negligence Lawyer David Thomas said, “This case is truly tragic and has left the family devasted.

“The inquest revealed that Zuzannah died from an infection due to delays in the labour that were not addressed quickly enough, as well as from head injuries sustained during delivery and starvation of oxygen to the brain – injuries that could have been avoided had the correct protocol been followed.

“We have since called on the NHS to ensure that lessons learned - as outlined in the Serious Incident Report by the Trust following the death - are shared in order to ensure that such errors are not allowed to happen again.”

According to the report, an analysis of a sample of 96 out of 197 cases where NHS Resolution panel solicitors were instructed to investigate liability identified that issues with fetal monitoring were a leading contributory factor in 70% of cases. In 63%, at least two or more factors were identified and a delay in acting on a pathological CTG was the most common factor.

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