Media spotlight on medical negligence in maternity care

by Legal Author on August 15, 2011

There has recently been a surge in media interest surrounding the harrowing experiences of women during childbirth. The Medical Negligence Group at Pannone represents families nationwide whose lives have been ruined through the death of a mother or child as a result of medical negligence. We also act in cases where children are left with severe disabilities such as cerebral palsy due to negligent medical care during birth.

The team was recently featured in the ITV Tonight programme focusing on the failing standards of care in maternity units. We spoke about how negligent treatment during pregnancy and labour can sadly result in maternal death, stillbirth, neonatal death and other serious injuries to mothers and babies. The physical and psychological effects are
devastating for families and can last a lifetime.

We work with expert obstetricians and midwives who identify breaches in the duty of care owed to our clients. Frequently occurring causes of medical negligence claims are inexperienced staff, failures to deal with maternal infection, staff shortages, failures to treat pre-eclampsia and misinterpretation of foetal heart monitoring traces.

This last issue crops up repeatedly. As a result, our medical negligence solicitors receive training from our in-house midwife on the proper interpretation of CTG traces. These traces monitor the foetal heart rate during labour. If a heart monitor is not correctly interpreted, foetal distress can be missed with catastrophic results.

There was also a recent BBC Panorama programme “One Born Every 40 seconds” which honed in on staff shortages and failings in maternity care at London Hospitals. We’re seeing the same trends emerge nationwide.

The media spotlight on these issues comes at a pivotal time. We are currently concerned that things will only get worse with the proposed government cuts to the healthcare budget.

We find that one of the key motivations for pursuing litigation is that our clients want lessons to be learned and to ensure errors will not be repeated. Unfortunately we see the same mistakes happening again and again. We think the NHS needs to take an in depth look at the negligence identified in these cases in order to provide a safer service in the future. We often find the hospital’s own pre-litigation inquiries are too defensive, which renders them ineffectual and lessons are not always learnt.

Another welcome media campaign is the ‘Stop the Stillbirth Scandal’. We act for many parents which have experienced a stillbirth through clinical negligence. There are around 3,500 stillbirths in England and Wales each year, woefully placing Britain second from the bottom in the developed world for stillbirth rates. Grazia magazine is taking action on this front, by joining forces with the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, Sands. We support their campaign to demand government funding for research into causes and prevention of stillbirth and to develop new ways of screening pregnancies to find out which babies are at risk of stillbirth.

This was a guest article from Sarah Jones, part of The Medical Negligence Group at Pannone, experts in medical negligence and personal injury. For more information on Pannone please visit their website –

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