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Bristol NHS Trust Hospital Errors Result in Death of Newborn

A young mother lost her newborn baby after mistakes were made by doctors during neonatal treatment at a controversial NHS Trust.

The baby girl died just four days after being born with a hole in her heart at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol.

The grieving mother, who is in her 20s, believed doctors had done their best to save her baby girl. But several months later, she and her husband received the post mortem examination result and discovered for the first time that mistakes had been made and their daughter’s death may have been caused by a doctor misreading an X-ray and the incorrect placing of a tube to administer vital medicine.

A subsequent investigation carried out by the hospital revealed that original error was then compounded by a sequence of other failings which culminated in the infant’s sudden deterioration and death.

Doctors had detected the couple’s baby had a cardiac abnormality during a 20-week scan but reassured the parents that the condition was treatable and that she would need an operation shortly after birth.

After she was born by emergency Caesarean section in October last year she was immediately transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care department where an umbilical arterial line to administer life-saving drugs was inserted.

According to the root cause analysis report commissioned by the hospital, a doctor misinterpreted an X-ray showing the position of the line. This resulted in a build-up of fluid in the heart preventing the organ from functioning properly. Medics then failed to carry out a routine daily review of X-rays which meant the original error went undetected.

After their child was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit, doctors assured the parents their baby was stable. But on the morning of the fourth day, they were asked to immediately attend intensive care where doctors told them they had been trying to resuscitate their baby for half an hour and asked for permission to stop.

At that stage the parents thought that nothing more could have been done to save their baby. They were told that her death would be sent to inquest because her condition had deteriorated so rapidly. They were never informed that a mistake had been made on the very first day.

I have now been instructed by the parents to pursue a civil action against University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, which is at the centre of a scandal after a series of child deaths while undergoing care in its hospitals.

This is a deeply worrying case. Losing a child is a devastating ordeal for any family. But to lose a child in these circumstances has only added to my clients’ grief.

They are determined that some positive comes from this tragedy and that any failings identified in their baby’s case are put right so no other family has to go through a similar, preventable trauma.

The family want to know, step-by-step, what happened, what lessons have been learned and what measures have been taken following this tragedy to ensure it never happens again.

Nisha Sharma is a Senior Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London, who has experience in handling claims for compensation following neonatal deaths.

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.



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