24 April 2015
Baby Boy Dies After Five Failed Forceps Delivery Attempts
An Oldham couple were left utterly devastated after their newborn baby boy died in hospital in April last year.
Hannah and Martin Beaty lost their baby Thomas the day after he was born at Royal Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester.
Thomas tragically died after suffering catastrophic head injuries during a birth that included five failed attempts to deliver him with forceps and ended in a caesarean after doctors pushed him back into his mother’s womb.
When Mrs Beaty went into labour at 39 weeks pregnant on 11 April last year, she was admitted to the labour ward at Royal Oldham Hospital.
Later that evening, Thomas was found to be ‘back to back’ in his mother’s womb, meaning his back was facing her back, making delivery more difficult.
After doctors took Mrs Beaty into theatre to try and reposition Thomas by manually rotating him, they decided to attempt a forceps delivery.
After the first attempt failed, one of the doctors suggested opting for a caesarean instead but she was overruled by a second doctor in the room.
Doctors then tried another four times to deliver Thomas by forceps despite national guidelines only recommending a maximum of three.
After the fifth attempt, Mr Beaty remembers a change of mood in the room akin to panic. Doctors then decided to push Thomas back into the womb so he could be delivered by caesarean.
When he was eventually born, Thomas was checked over before being handed to his parents.
A short time later however, Thomas started bleeding from his nose and mouth. After he was taken to intensive care it was revealed he had suffered a fractured skull and a major bleed under his scalp due to his traumatic birth.
After Mr and Mrs Beaty were told that Thomas was dying, they went into the intensive care unit to hold their son before he tragically passed away.
Following an inquest into Thomas’ death held last week the coroner wrote to the Royal College of Midwives and the Department of Health requesting a review of guidelines surrounding forceps deliveries and clarification on when a birth is considered ‘imminent’.
After the Manchester Evening News reported on the inquest, a whistleblowing midwife contacted the paper with concerns about the high number of deaths at Royal Oldham and North Manchester General hospitals.
It transpired that Pennine Acute NHS Trust had commissioned an external review last July into the handling of the deaths of seven babies and three mothers across the Trust’s two maternity units in just eight months.
The review found there was a ‘notable absence of clinical leadership in both medical and midwifery teams’ which resulted in a ‘failure to adequately plan care’ in a number of cases involving babies.
Whatever the underlying reasons behind the problems this hospital has been facing, what is undeniable is just how horrendous the ordeal Martin and Thomas Beaty have suffered over the loss of their baby.
Having their perfectly healthy full-term baby taken away from them due to the negligent actions of the very people they put their utmost trust in must be unimaginably awful.
There is no such thing as a typical clinical negligence case, each one is unique and very personal to those affected.
What I would say about the Thomas Beaty case is that it is one of the most distressing I have had to deal with.
The injuries to Thomas were some of the most severe I have ever seen and I know how upsetting it is has been for Hannah and Martin to have to live with the knowledge that their son was a perfectly normal little boy with no congenital problems.
His injuries were inflicted through failures and that is difficult to comprehend.
Zak Golombeck is a Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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