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Hospital failures led to Sepsis in mother and baby

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Failures at the Royal Oldham Hospital left both mother and baby suffering from sepsis and the hospital’s breach in duty of care led to a £20,000 medical negligence compensation settlement.

Our client, a 24 year old young mother had a healthy pregnancy, her scans and bloods had all been fine during her pregnancy and her antenatal checks and growth scans were reported as normal.

When she was just over 39 weeks our client went to hospital when her waters broke, however contractions had not started. She was seen in triage and observations were undertaken, including the Maternal Early Warning System (MEWS).

Maternal Early Warning System (MEWS)

Is a way of observing pregnant women to facilitate timely recognition, diagnosis and treatment of any issues.

Her MEWS score went from 2 to 0 whilst she was in triage so she was sent home and told to observe her temperature and contact the birth centre if she went into labour.

When our client reached her due date and was admitted for induction of labour she underwent a series of tests, her MEWS had increased to 3, she had a raised pulse and was given antibiotics due to the prolonged rupture of her membranes.

Sepsis after Birth

Her labour was slow to progress and after a series of vaginal examinations she was not dilated, her temperature continued and she had a raised pulse.  Her MEWS level increased to 4 and her CTG was raised.  Our client struggled with pain during this long period, at times she was not properly attended and there were delays in treatment.  Eventually she was taken for a caesarean section and post birth lost a great deal of blood.  Our client was taken to intensive care and the baby to neonatal intensive care, both with sepsis.

It was later found that our client had an intrauterine infection known as chorioamnionitis which occurs when the membranes that surround the baby in the womb are infected.

It is an infection of the placenta and the amniotic fluid and can occur when the amniotic sac is broken for a long time before birth. Our client presented with the symptoms such as fever and a fast heart rate.

As part of this case the medical negligence solicitors at Pearson sought expert medical advice from a consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist.

Breach of Patient Care

We noted that as part of the breach of duty of care our client:

  • Should have been offered an earlier induction
  • Should not have been given preventive antibiotics in the absence of an infection as this is a deviation from guidelines.
  • There was significant delay in her transfer to the labour ward, it was also noted that there was a failure to offer a caesarean section at an earlier time.
  • The multiple vaginal examinations increased her risk of sepsis.
  • Any MEWS score above 3 should have resulted in a 30 minute review by a registrar or consultant and her sepsis should have been spotted earlier.
  • There was failure to diagnose that she was in labour and she was kept in antenatal too long.

“In this case the sepsis ‘golden hour’ was missed when antibiotics are most effective.  Additionally the MEWS policy was not followed which is a gross breach of duty of care by the Northern Care Alliance NHS Trust,” said Solicitor and Head of Medical Negligence, Jacqueline White.

“As a consequence of failures of care and the significant delay in her induction process our client and her baby both developed sepsis needing specialist care and so missed that lovely time that they should have spent together after birth, what should have been a special time was instead traumatic.  Post birth our client has suffered from low mood and anxiety and her anxiety increased with a second pregnancy and developed into PTSD.”

How can we help?

We have a wealth of experience dealing with a wide range of medical negligence cases including sepsis and childbirth negligence. For legal advice contact our Medical Negligence Solicitors on 0161 785 3500 or email

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

Written by Jacqueline White


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