Deceased had been attending Defendant hospital for antenatal care from 13 weeks gestation. Pregnancy was unremarkable until 29 weeks when she complained of feeling unwell with frequent micturition. Urine specimen showed trace protein and glucose and slight increase in blood pressure.
At 33 weeks her blood pressure had increased further and there was significant proteinuria. She attended hospital 9 days later complaining of absent fetal movements and scan confirmed in utero fetal death. She had increased blood pressure and her legs were oedematous and hypertensive treatment was commenced. Her blood pressure failed to respond to this treatment and she complained of headache and extreme abdominal pain. Anti-hypertensive infusion was increased but blood pressure remained high. Due to reduced level of consciousness, she was transferred for intubation and ventilation. CT scan confirmed extensive intracranial haemorrhage. Deceased died the following morning.
Action brought by First Claimant who was the partner of the Deceased and Second Claimant who was the father and administrator of the estate. Claimants alleged negligence in:
- failing to regularly measure the fundal height which would have displayed intrauterine growth retardation and consequently led to early identification of the Deceased’s pre-eclampsia;
- failing to refer Deceased for review by obstetrician at 33 weeks when she displayed symptoms consistent with pre-eclampsia;
- failing take proper steps to reduce blood pressure;
- failing to establish protocol for administration of anti-hypertensive; and
- permitting very severe hypertension to persist without providing adequate treatment.
Liability admitted in respect of the Second Claimant’s claim. Defendant contended First Claimant was not a direct victim and he could not claim as a dependent as he had been living with X for less than two years.
Out of court settlement: £20,000 (£5,000 to Second Claimant and £15,000 to First Claimant).