What Counts As Medical Negligence During Pregnancy?

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Kate McCue

Medical Negligence Associate Solicitor

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Many people may wonder whether medical negligence can happen during pregnancy and the types of situations which could arise that could count as medical negligence.

Negligence can happen at many stages of pregnancy due to things such as, but not limited to, oversights, incorrect advice and failure on the part of some professionals to take into account issues such as pre-existing medical conditions and medication.

Pregnancy can be an exciting, yet extremely daunting time for expectant parents, especially first-time parents. Pregnant women, particularly first time mothers, heavily rely on the expertise of medical professionals to give them advice and guidance throughout their pregnancy and antenatal care. These professionals have a duty of care to pregnant women to both identify any issues and manage any risks or complications. If any medical professional, including doctors, midwives or gynaecologists, do not provide accurate and timely advice together with any recommendations, this can count as medical negligence.

Our specialist team of Medical Negligence Solicitors have recovered millions of pounds in total over the years for people who have been affected by medical negligence during both pregnancy and birth, but many people just don't realise that negligence can happen during pregnancy too.

Negligence can unfortunately lead to conditions that can have lifelong consequences not just for the child affected, but for their parents and their loved ones. Parents or loved ones may need to provide special care for the child affected for their entire lives. Sadly, this can drastically affect everything from their lifestyles, routines, careers and homes to costs and various different expenditures. You should not have to suffer from the emotional and financial consequences if the care you received during your pregnancy was substandard . To assist, we’ve listed some examples of medical negligence during pregnancy this in this article which can be found below.

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Failure to Identify Birth Defects

Medical professionals should always carry out regular screening tests during pregnancy. The reason for this is to check whether your child has any birth defects. These include genetic and hereditary defects such as, but not limited to, conditions such as  Down’s Syndrome and Cystic Fibrosis. Parents then rely on this information as being accurate and correct to help them to decide whether or not to go forward with the pregnancy. Some parents may decide to terminate the pregnancy if they’re told their baby will suffer with a serious medical condition which may arise from a genetic defect or a hereditary defect.

Unfortunately, if healthcare professionals don’t conduct these regular tests or fail to  take action after seeing any abnormal results, it can even lead to stillbirths in some cases. Stillbirths can be extremely devastating for both the parents of the child affected and their loved ones.

If you’re thinking of claiming compensation for an issue like this, our expert team of Medical Negligence Lawyers have years of experience of thoroughly handling cases like these with care and sensitivity. You can contact us today for advice and a Free Case Assessment on 0808 239 6043 or you can request a call back from one of our friendly team. We’ll listen and find out everything we can to see if you might have a strong case for compensation. If you do and you wish to proceed, we can assure you that we’ll support you all the way through the process which is often unfamiliar and daunting for many, especially following already difficult circumstances.


Oversight of Complications During Pregnancy

The healthcare that expectant mothers and babies receive during pregnancy is generally of a very high quality in this country. However, despite this and despite many awareness campaigns, some tragedies and complications do unfortunately happen.

Illnesses, complications, and injuries that may occur due to medical negligence in pregnancy include:

  • Pre eclampsia. This is a condition that affects some pregnant women, usually during the second half of their pregnancy from 20 weeks onwards or soon after their baby has been delivered. Early signs of pre-eclampsia include high blood pressure and protein in the urine of the pregnant person.
  • Gestational diabetes. This is a high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth. It can happen at any stage of pregnancy but is more common in the second and third trimester. It happens when your body cannot produce enough insulin to meet your extra needs in pregnancy
  • Uterine rupture and placental abruption. Uterine rupture is the separation of the entire thickness of the uterine wall with extrusion of foetal parts and intra amniotic contents into the peritoneal cavity. Placental abruption is when the placenta starts to come away from the inside wall of the womb before the baby is born.
  • Ectopic pregnancies and resulting complications in surgery.  An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. This causes the pregnancy to stop developing into a baby and puts the health of the pregnant person at risk if the pregnancy continues.
  • Group B Streptococcus (GBS). This is a bacterium that about 20% of pregnant women carry, but there is a risk that it can be passed to the baby during childbirth. Steps can be taken to prevent infections, and treatment can be provided to the baby to help recovery. However, if the mother or baby don’t receive the right care, it can lead to serious complications for the baby.
  • Sepsis caused by Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), pneumonia or influenza. Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection which occurs when a person's immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage the body’s own tissues and organs. This is particularly concerning as the amount of sepsis cases are rising in recent years.
  • Wrongful pregnancy or failed termination

You may have decided to terminate your pregnancy by means of abortion. Or, you may have tried to prevent pregnancy happening in the first place through sterilization, vasectomy or pregnancy testing. Contraception failure can also happen if it’s carried out insubstantially, for example faulty implementation of an implant. If these methods fail due to negligence on the part of a medical professional, you might be able to make a ‘wrongful pregnancy’ claim.

The compensation could cover the cost of any operation or medical procedures that resulted from the pregnancy. It could also cover any income you may have or the cost of pregnancy and labour. However, it should be noted that there’ll be no financial settlement to cover the cost of raising a child.

Miscarriage Negligence

Miscarriage negligence can happen if a woman isn’t adequately monitored when she is known to be at high risk during pregnancy. This could be due to conditions such as diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure. Miscarriage negligence can also happen if a woman is given medical treatment without first being checked for pregnancy, and this leads to miscarriage.

Incorrect Management of Medication

If you’re on medication due to a pre-existing medical condition, your doctor should make sure this is considered if you become pregnant. Medical professionals should also make sure they advise you to take the correct vitamins and supplements during pregnancy, especially if you’ve become pregnant later in life.

We have seen, for example, cases where women with epilepsy were on sodium valproate, which can cause birth defects and learning and development problems in babies. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued rules about how doctors can prescribe valproate medicines. They state that doctors must not prescribe valproate to women or girls of childbearing age, unless they are on the Valproate Pregnancy Prevention Programme. This aims to make sure that women taking valproates are aware of the risks in pregnancy and are using highly effective contraception to avoid becoming pregnant.

It can be confusing to work out whether your medication was incorrectly managed during pregnancy. We encourage you to contact us for a Free Case Assessment, as our lawyers have years of expertise with a range of cases of medical negligence during pregnancy. We can assess the likelihood of you getting compensation before you decide to go through with your claim.

Making a Claim for Compensation Due to Medical Negligence During Pregnancy

Bringing a case against the healthcare system can play an important role in preventing cases like these happening to somebody else. They can also help improve procedures, maintaining a high standard of care in the medical community.

Getting compensation cannot undo what you, your baby and loved ones have been through. But it can help to move on  and ease financial stress.

You can contact our Medical Negligence lawyers who are specialists in these cases. We’ll tell you where you stand and keep you informed so you can get the best possible outcome. Our goal is to help you get the guidance and recovery  you deserve, no matter what you’ve been through.



Simpson Millar Solicitors. (2023). "Sodium Valproate During Pregnancy." Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/media/medical-negligence/sodium-valproate-during-pregnancy/ (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (2019). "Sepsis Cases More Than Double in Two Years." Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/media/medical-negligence/sepsis-cases-more-than-double-in-two-years/ (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (2020). "NHS Failings Causing Avoidable GBS Infections in Babies." Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/media/medical-negligence/nhs-failings-causing-avoidable-gbs-infections-in-babies/ (Accessed December 5, 2023)

NHS. (2022). "Ectopic Pregnancy." Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ectopic-pregnancy/. (Accessed December 5, 2023)

NHS. (2021). "Pre-eclampsia." Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pre-eclampsia/ (Accessed December 5, 2023)

NHS. (2022). "Gestational Diabetes." Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gestational-diabetes/ (Accessed December 5, 2023)

NHS Lothian Guidelines. (2021). "Uterine Rupture Suspected." Retrieved from https://nhslguidelines.scot.nhs.uk/media/1985/uterine-rupture-suspected-april-2021.pdf (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Tommy's. (2022). "Placental Abruption." Retrieved from https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/placenta-complications/placental-abruption (Accessed December 5, 2023)

NHS. (2022). "Sepsis." Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sepsis/. (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Kate McCue

Medical Negligence Associate Solicitor

Areas of Expertise:
Medical Negligence

Kate joined the Clinical Negligence department at Simpson Millar in January 2023 after previously working at Chris Kallis Solicitors in Plymouth. Kate qualified as a solicitor in 2004 and has developed extensive experience in both Personal Injury and Medical Negligence.   

Initially Kate started working as a Defendant Solicitor for firms such as Bond Pearce LLP and DAC Beachcroft Claims Ltd. This has allowed Kate to develop a tactical advantage to her cases, using the experience of how a claim is dealt with from a Defendant’s perspective. 

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