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Obstetrics

A major area of practice and one of considerable complexity and controversy.

We have considerable experience in handling claims arising from complications of child birth. There are 3 main categories of claim handled:

  1. where injury and disability is suffered by the child, potentially as a consequence of shortcomings in the doctor/midwife/hospital’s care.
  2. where, tragically, the baby dies either before or during delivery and it is considered this may be due to shortcomings in care (often allegations that warning signs were ignored and the baby ought to have been born earlier or treatment given while in utero).
  3. claims where it is alleged the mother has suffered injury during or following childbirth that ought to have been avoided.

Cerebral Palsy claims involve difficult issues, quite apart from issues as to whether the care provided was below an appropriate standard. Issues arise most commonly as to whether or not shortcomings in the care provided led to the baby’s poor outcome. Considerable debate is also generally encountered in terms of the baby’s life expectancy and likely long term care needs.

This is an exceptionally complicated area of law and medicine. It is difficult to obtain expert opinions from fair and objective neonatologists, paediatric neurologists etc on such issues. Fortunately we have built up strong relationships with a number of specialists prepared to provide their opinions on cases we handle in this area.

In our view, anyone contemplating investigating or pursuing such a birth injury claim, should very carefully question their prospective lawyer as to their experience and resources to handle such a matter. This is not an area for the faint-hearted or, in our view, the inexperienced.

Below are a list of some of the cases we have handled (and are handling) relating to obstetric care.

  • Excessive administration of syntocinon.
  • Excessive “trial of scar” on 2nd pregnancy, leading to ruptured uterus (and baby’s death).
  • Failure to identify likelihood of very large baby and hence advise client of option of caesarian section.
  • Failure to monitor labour following administration of prostaglandin gel (titanic contraction causing baby’s death).
  • Failure to transfer mother to theatre before commencement of instrument assisted delivery.
  • Failure to delay caesarian section until effective epidural working.
  • Failure to warn of risks associated with epidural anaesthesia during labour.
  • Excessive force during instrumental delivery.
  • Failure to identify and promptly repair 3rd degree tear occurring during delivery (several).
  • Failure to promptly identify ectopic pregnancy.
  • Failure to arrange repeat anatomical ultrasound scan (despite radiologist’s advice to do so).
  • Failure to identify profound abnormalities evident on 18 week scan and advise parents of option of pregnancy termination.
  • Failure to identify foetal growth retardation and consequently arrange early delivery of baby.
  • Failure to identify mono-chorionic, mono-amniotic twins and hence arrange early delivery.
  • Failure to properly examine and investigate mothers attending with threatened pre-term labour (several).
  • Failure to properly treat infection in threatened pre-term labour mother.
  • Failure to correctly review CTG tracing and consequent failure to arrange urgent caesarian delivery.
  • Negligent manner of repair of episiotomy and tear.