Isabella Hope Hill was born prematurely at just 26 weeks gestation at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Due to her prematurity, she was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit shortly after her birth for support where she initially responded well to treatment.
Unfortunately as a result of a number of failures by the medical staff, Isabella’s condition rapidly deteriorated. As part of her on-going pre-term care, an Umbilical Venous Catheter (UVC) was inserted in order to intravenously administer vital fluids, nutrients, blood products and medication.
Medical guidance indicates that, upon insertion of a UVC line, an x-ray should be undertaken to check the UVC line is correctly in position. It is accepted that there is a greater risk of the lines being dislodged within the first two weeks of insertion. The care should be on-going to monitor the risk of dislodgement or leakage, amongst other recognised complications and birth injuries.
When Isabella’s UVC line was initially inserted, an abdominal x-ray was undertaken in accordance with the guidelines and, upon review, a decision was undertaken to withdraw the UVC line by 1cm. According to the Intensive Care Unit’s guidelines, once a UVC is repositioned, a further x-ray should be carried out to ensure the line was positioned in the correct place.
Tragically, this did not happen. It is thought that the line was either misplaced initially or became dislodged shortly after insertion. This caused Isabella’s condition to deteriorate due to the fluid being pumped directly into her stomach, crushing her vital organs.
It wasn’t until four days later that the mistake was recognised by the medical team. This was sadly four days too late for Isabella, who tragically died on 17th October 2013, at just seven days old.
As a result of an inquest, the coroner ordered the Trust to undertake an urgent investigation in order to prevent any further avoidable deaths.
The Trust has recently admitted that there were failures in the care provided to Isabella. Most importantly, they have admitted that there was a lack of awareness in relation to the position of the UVC and that a second x-ray should have been performed after the repositioning of the UVC.
After the investigation, revised guidelines were implemented. National guidelines are due to be introduced later this year after a hard-fought campaign by Isabella’s parents to ensure that this avoidable tragedy does not happen again.
Although these steps are welcomed, many may wonder whether this is strictly necessary, as clearly the main issue here is not a lack of guidance but the implementation of existing guidance.
The Clinical Negligence Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers help families who have had to deal with devastating birth injuries in a sensitive and supportive manner. If your baby was injured during pregnancy or child birth due to medical negligence call us for a free consultation any time of day on 0800 916 9049 or contact us online.
We can provide immediate representation anywhere in the UK.