Our clinical negligence solicitor, Claire Evans, spent the first part of her career as a midwife before re-training in medical law. As our expert on high value birth injury claims and gynaecological surgical injury, she works closely with clients who have experienced the impacts of birth injuries, both to the baby and the mother.
The UK is one of the safest countries in the world in which to give birth, with advancing medicine and technology reducing risk of injury or trauma to the baby each year. However, childbirth is a complicated process that puts immense stress on the body, and injuries to mothers can become life-threatening if not appropriately cared for.
MASIC, the organisation supporting women with injuries from childbirth, raises awareness for birth injuries and injured women. Its research shows 85 per cent of women with severe birth injury said it impacted on their relationship with their child, 45 per cent suffered postnatal depression as a result of their injury, and 24 per cent regretted having a child due to their injuries.
While it is impossible to eliminate all injuries, there are many which are avoidable. In these cases, patients may have a strong case to claim for the injury and distress they have endured.
Most common birth injuries to mothers
Many injuries can be easily treated, such as lower degree perineal tears, of which up to nine out of 10 first time mothers who have a vaginal birth will experience. Treatment depends on the severity of the tear, which can vary from first degree (small tears) to third and fourth tears (obstetric anal sphincter injuries), which require surgical repair.
In some cases, a surgical incision (episiotomy) is made by a doctor or midwife to make more room for the baby to pass through. It is important that medical professionals help you to weigh up the best option for the safety of you and your baby.
Failure to identify a spontaneous tear or offer the appropriate treatment as part of postnatal care can be a sign of negligent care, and it is recommended you seek specialist legal advice to discuss your options further.
Post-partum Haemorrhage (PPH)
More severe injuries, such as PPH, can pose potentially life-threatening conditions to the mother. Primary PPH (heavy bleeding within 24 hours of giving birth) and secondary PPH (heavy bleeding for up to six weeks after giving birth) must be identified early on to either prevent it or ensure risk of further blood loss is reduced. Excess blood loss can be fatal or result in an emergency surgical procedure such as a hysterectomy (removal of the womb).
Failure or a delayed diagnosis can be clear sign of clinical negligence. If a medical professional fails to manage the labour effectively or timely, or commits a Never Event, specialist legal advice must be sought.
A ruptured uterus is when the wall of the woman’s womb tears during pregnancy. Most common in women who have previously had a caesarean section, it is important that medical professionals identify this as soon as possible. A decision to perform a c-section or hysterectomy by the medical professional may be made, but a failure or delay to recognise any issues can be life-threatening to both the mother and the baby and as such, can be a strong case to claim for compensation.
A prolapsed uterus, or pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is caused when the pelvic muscles are damaged or weakened causing the organs inside the pelvis to drop. Many cases of POP can be remedied through pelvic floor exercises, however more extreme cases may require surgical attention such as a hysterectomy. A failure to recognise risk of POP or prevent the condition from worsening is a sign of negligent medical care.
At RHL Solicitors, we understand that no one would wish to begin the long and emotional journey of claiming damages against the medical profession without good cause. However, it’s crucial to ensure you get the expert legal advice and support you need.
If you feel like your health has been adversely affected by negligent healthcare, contact our expert clinical negligence team here who will be more than happy to discuss the matter further.
RHL Solicitors will have no delays or waiting times in advising you on your situation and will be quick to get you the support and care you deserve.