Cases involving retained products of conception rarely result in damages being awarded as the possibility is a known risk of many gynaecological procedures. In the recent case of SF v South Tees Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, however, the claimant received £7,500 as an out of court settlement to reflect her pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
The claimant sustained injury during the birth of her first child in March 2003 when a registrar pulled on the umbilical cord causing it to snap and for the placenta to be delivered in pieces. The claimant returned to hospital a month later with flu-like symptoms and continued bleeding. An ultrasound scan revealed she had retained products of conception. An ERPC (Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception) took place but the claimant developed Asherman’s syndrome as a result of the amount of endometrium that was removed. This meant that she was prevented from having periods and her fertility was affected.
Liability was not admitted in this case and we consider it stands on its individual facts. However, it is an interesting example of what can happen when a claimant is particularly determined and principled – it took seven and a half years to recover £7,500.