Lapses In Maternity Care Led To Mistakes In 20% Of Births

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The Law Of… Reducing Birth Injuries

A report by the BBC has claimed that between 2015 and 2017 there were more than 276,000 mistakes recorded during childbirth. Medical Negligence Solicitor, Alison Hills, takes a look at this worrying revelation and explains what you can do if you or your baby suffered a birth injury.

Baby crying

One Mistake Every Five Births

The recently released report comes at a time when an ongoing crisis within the NHS continues to make headline news. Particularly concerning is the fact that the cited figure represents an equivalent of a mistake made every 5 births, with almost a quarter of those incidents resulting in harm to the mother or baby. Out of these mistakes 288 proved fatal.

The shocking disclosure led to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling for improvements in maternity services to become a 'top priority'.

Varying Degrees Of Severity

According to the BBC's report, the documented errors varied in severity, but included mistakes such as:

  • Inaccurate record keeping
  • Delays in the administering of medication
  • Babies being deprived of oxygen, resulting in severe disability and sometimes death.

The report also highlighted how some NHS trusts recorded more incidents than others, with Central Manchester University Hospital's trust recording the most (5,000). This particular trust runs St Mary’s Hospital, which reported the death of 2 mothers and 7 babies due to lapses in care.

In light of previous concerns regarding care standards, the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) was established last year. As of 2018, the independent body will be investigating all cases of serious harm and death during childbirth, with an aim to ensuring  lessons are learned leading to a reduction in similar incidents in the future.

Responding to the report, the head of campaigns at the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), said:

"Maternity care is in crisis, staffing levels are dangerously low and midwives are being stretched to the limit."

Can I Claim For A Birth Injury?

Mistakes made in maternity care can have devastating consequences for both mothers and babies, in some cases leading to death or lifelong, severe disabilities.

The financial cost of caring for a child with a severe condition such as a brain injury, along with the potential emotional, physical and psychological issues, can take its toll. As can the death of either a mother or baby.

Where a birth injury or fatality can be proven to be the result of medical negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. You should seek professional and independent legal advice to determine whether you have grounds for a claim.

How Long Do I Have To Claim For A Birth Injury?

In the case of injury to the mother, court proceedings must be issued within 3 years of either the incident occurring, or of when knowledge of the negligence was first recognised.

If a fatality is involved, the 3 year period will run from the date of death.

In the case of a child, then the 3 year period will run from the child’s 18th birthday. However, if the child is diagnosed with a severe disability such as cerebral palsy and lacks the mental capacity to bring proceedings, the time limit does not apply.

Alison comments:

"The BBC's report is deeply concerning. The figure of 276,000 recorded incidents in the past 2 years demonstrates just how severe the crisis within NHS maternity services is. Lapses in maternity care can be devastating for both the mother and the baby and in the most severe circumstances, involve a lifelong, permanent disability or even death."

"We can only hope that lessons are learned from the HSIB's forthcoming reviews and incidents of this nature are reduced."

If you were concerned by the standard of maternity care you received, contact Simpson Millar today.





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