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Recent Injury to mothers during childbirth Claims

The Clinical Negligence Team have recovered very substantial sums of compensation for clients in a number of medical negligence claims. Here are a selection of our most recent successful cases:

What you need to know about the trans-vaginal mesh implants scandal

A report published last month by the Mesh Oversight Group has drawn attention to something that is fast becoming a serious women’s health scandal: trans-vaginal mesh procedures. The data shows that nearly 7% of women who undergo the procedure will need to have it removed later on.

Why is the number of removals so high?

The problem with trans-vaginal mesh is that it has a high incidence of serious side effects.

Side effects can range from chronic pain and loss of sexual function, to major complications. For example, the implant can protrude through the bladder or bowel, even necessitating the removal of organs caught up in the mesh. The material can also shrink inside the body, slicing through nerve endings, tissue and organs. So, what is often presented to patients as a ‘quick fix’ for their medical problems, can quickly turn into a nightmare.

In the past decade, due to suffering complications, thousands of women have undergone surgery to have vaginal mesh implants removed. NHS Digital records show that between 2006 and 2016 just over 75,000 trans-vaginal tape implants were fitted, and during the same period more than 4,900 procedures were carried out to remove the implants.

After being placed in the body, the plastic mesh becomes embedded in surrounding tissue, the aim being that it becomes permanent. In contrast to the relatively simple insertion of the mesh, full removal can require hours of surgery and is a very serious procedure for a patient to undergo.

What is being done about this?

Despite the wide range of potential complications, and the high rate of removals, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has – somewhat surprisingly – found ‘insufficient evidence’ to justify a ban on the products being used. 100,000 women are currently involved in litigation in America, where the device has been upgraded to ‘higher risk’, and politicians in Scotland called for trans-vaginal mesh operations to be suspended back in 2014. Yet, there remain around 100 different types of mesh implant available on the NHS.

There have also been calls for an increase in funding or availability or more appropriate non-surgical treatments, such as pelvic floor physiotherapy. It is estimated that the introduction of this treatment could help 60-80% of women, who would then not have to endure more invasive surgical procedures. In France, for example, this is provided as standard after women have had children.

What are trans-vaginal mesh procedures?

Trans-vaginal mesh is a net-like implant used to treat pelvis organ prolapse and stress incontinence in women. The surgery has been widely considered as a single, less invasive alternative approach to traditional surgical approaches for treating these conditions (which can occur after childbirth) since the early 2000s.

A trans-vaginal tape implant – the most common kind of mesh procedure – procedure typically takes 30 minutes and is performed using keyhole surgery. This means that this method has been widely favoured over traditional open-surgery procedures, which take longer to perform, involve a lengthier recovery for patients, and were associated with their own range of complications.

We have extensive experience with clients who have been affected by negligent gynaecological treatment, and have seen first hand the effects that negligent surgery can have on an individual’s life. We hope that this report begins to spark some long-overdue action.

£100,000 – negligence causing post partum haemorrhage and hysterectomy

Hannah Blackwell, Associate in the Clinical Negligence Team, acted for Mrs C following negligent treatment during and after her labour and delivery of her first child following an uncomplicated pregnancy. At two days over her due date, Mrs C started having contractions and on her initial visit to her local hospital she was discharged home at 4cms dilated.  She later returned to hospital and labour progressed extremely slowly. During the final stages of labour, forceps were used to attempt to deliver her baby. Following the use of forceps it was noted that the baby’s heart rate had slowed. The decision was then made to undertake an emergency caesarean section. Thankfully, Mrs C’s baby was delivered safely and suffered no injury.

Following delivery, Mrs C suffered a postpartum haemorrhage. She was given a number of blood transfusions and a number of procedures were attempted to try and stop the bleeding. These attempts were unsuccessful and Mrs C underwent a full hysterectomy followed by an admission in the intensive care unit.

A claim was brought on the basis that when Mrs C initially attended the hospital and was noted to be 4cms dilated, the hospital staff failed to notice that she was in established labour and negligently discharged her home. This caused the labour to be prolonged, increasing the risk of post-partum haemorrhage.  Further, the forceps were not used properly and should have been used at an earlier point in the labour. If the forceps has been used earlier then this would have decreased the amount of blood loss. It was also argued that the haemorrhage was not treated in a timely manner and procedures to stop the bleed could have been carried out at an earlier stage, which would have avoided the ultimate need for a hysterectomy.

Mrs C suffered from avoidable abdominal scarring and developed depression and anxiety and, as a result of the hysterectomy, she is unable to have any more children. Mrs C’s case settled out of Court for compensation of £100,000.

£30,000 – psychiatric injury due to substandard caesarean section

The Clinical Negligence Team acted for Mrs D who suffered anaesthetic awareness and psychiatric injury following a substandard caesarean section, and Mr D who suffered psychiatric injury from witnessing these events.

Mrs D underwent a caesarean section but the incision extended into the surrounding blood vessels, including an artery. The injury was not quickly repaired and Mrs D suffered heavy bleeding.  Mr D witnessed this and saw his wife’s condition rapidly deteriorate, which led him to believe that she was dying.  He was asked to leave the room and was not provided with any information about his wife for a number of hours.

When Mr D was asked if she wanted to know what was happening, she opted not to, and to have a general anaesthetic so that she would not be aware of what she believed was her impending death. There was a delay in providing blood products and starting a blood transfusion, causing a fall in blood pressure. During the latter part of the surgery Mrs D suffered anaesthetic awareness. She could hear the surgery, but could not see or move and initially thought she had died.

Both Mr and Mrs D sustained psychiatric injury.  Their cases were settled out of Court for £30,000, wit Mrs D receiving £18,000 and Mr D receiving £12,000 in compensation.

£45,000 awarded for examination failure following a perineal tear

The Clinical Negligence Team recovered £45,000 for a client after a midwife failed to examine her following a perineal tear.

The Mother had to undergo a late repair of her third/fourth degree tear and had a temporary colostomy bag put in place. Because the midwife had failed to recognise the true extent of the tear, the Claimant suffered more harm than if the tear had been repaired immediately. The Claimant also suffered from stress during this time and sexual difficulties. She had mild depression.

£45,000 awarded for cervical stitch negligence

Joachim Stanley acted for Ms T, who underwent a cervical stitch (cervical cerclage) procedure during her pregnancy. The stitch became infected due to negligence during the procedure. As a result of the infection her unborn child sadly died. She suffered a psychiatric injury and required a considerable amount of care from her family. Ms T received compensation of £45,000.

£250,000 awarded for a negligently performed episiotomy

During the birth of her child, a client of the Clinical Negligence Team suffered a third degree perineal tear due to a negligently performed episiotomy. The Obstetrician then failed to recognise the extent of the tear and performed an inadequate repair in poor light.

Our client suffered faecal incontinence which causes her a great amount of distress, and will have to undergo late repair surgery once her family is complete. Our client’s husband had to change jobs due to her injuries and there were significant financial losses.

Our client received £250,000 in an out of court settlement for her pain and suffering and financial losses.

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