December 9, 2019

Successful claim for negligent maternity care that caused fits and psychiatric harm

In 2015, following a normal pregnancy, our client presented to the maternity assessment unit at 35 weeks gestation complaining of reduced foetal movements and visual disturbances. She had a blood pressure of 152/104 and significant protein in her urine. A diagnosis was made of pre-eclampsia. She was administered steroids to help with baby lung development, given labetalol to lower her blood pressure and admitted to the ward.

The following day our client was reviewed by the obstetrician who did not seem to appreciate a diagnosis of pre-eclampsia and following blood pressure readings in the region of 136/84, was discharged home.

Five days later, our client attended a routine antennal clinic appointment where her blood pressure was 151/120 and she had significant protein and blood in her urine. No further action was taken and she was asked to attend the following day for repeat tests.

The following day she attended and now reported severe headache, further visual disturbances and feeling confused. Her blood pressure was 171/103. A plan was made to admit for delivery however within one hour of presenting, the Claimant suffered an eclamptic fit. She was given magnesium sulphate (to reduce the risk of further seizures) and had an emergency caesarean section.

Our client successfully argued there were a number of missed opportunities to admit, monitor and expedite delivery which would ultimately have avoided the fit. She suffered significant psychiatric harm as a result. She found the experience extremely frightening and distressing and became very obsessive about her babies welfare. She suffered disturbed sleep, flashbacks and had a sense of guilt for some years following birth and continues to have generalised anxiety.

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