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Hospital Negligence Case of Vasa Praevia Concluded by Clinical Negligence Solicitor

25 April 2013

Clinical Negligence Solicitor Iona Meeres-Young obtained an admission of liability, an apology and secured compensation for a mother who tragically lost her baby following mismanagement of Vasa Praevia at the South London Healthcare NHS Trust.

Vasa Praevia is a rare obstetric condition which affects approximately 555 pregnancies every year; more than one per day.

Iona’s client was aged 30 when she conceived her first child. A foetal anomaly scan at 20 weeks gestation revealed a low lying placenta. A further scan was arranged at 32 weeks gestation. On the scan at 32 weeks gestation, the placenta was no longer low lying but the possibility of Vasa Praevia was raised. My client was re-scanned at 34 weeks gestation and the likelihood of Vasa Praevia was considered again, but her antenatal plan was not altered.

At 40 weeks, following the onset of bleeding, Iona’s client was rushed to hospital.  A crash caesarean was performed, but tragically her baby was born in poor condition and died the following day. 

Both internal and external (independent) investigations were conducted into the management of Iona’s client’s clinical care. The Defendant’s internal review suggested that appropriate action upon the diagnosis was planned elective caesarean section at 39 weeks gestation, whereas the external review suggested that this should have occurred earlier at between 37 and 38 weeks gestation. 

Iona obtained supportive evidence that the Defendant negligently failed to:

1. Perform a transvaginal scan to confirm diagnosis of the Vasa Praevia at the 34 week scan;

2. Plan elective caesarean section at 37/38 weeks following diagnosis, as suggested in the external review; and

3. Arrange inpatient management following diagnosis resulting in Iona’s client being at home when she sustained membrane rupture/bleeding.  

Iona’s expert also supported that delivery by elective caesarean section prior to bleeding would have resulted in the delivery of a baby with healthy survival.

When Vasa Previa goes undiagnosed until birth, sadly it is more than likely to result in the death of an otherwise healthy baby.  However, this need not happen. If the condition is diagnosed, antenatally by ultrasound, the survival rate is nearly 100%. Antenatal diagnosis and awareness of this condition is key to avoid these unnecessary deaths and trying to save little lives.

In tragic cases like these, no amount of money will adequately right the wrong and so the admission of liability and apology were the greater victories for Iona’s client.

Iona Meeres-Young is a Clinical & Medical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.