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Coping with a miscarriage is devastating enough for parents. To discover that a stillbirth may have been caused by the negligence of medical staff charged with the care of mother and child is extremely distressing. The fact that such a tragedy could and should have been avoided makes these cases even more heart-breaking.
There is often no identifiable reason for a stillbirth. Common causes include hereditary birth defects or the placenta coming away from the wall of the uterus (placental abruption). Expectant mothers with diabetes or high blood pressure are also at risk.
A baby may suffer physical trauma simply as a result of being born. Some injuries have little or no consequence, some can have life-long consequences and some are fatal. Sadly, stillbirth is not uncommon. Recent surveys by the National Audit Office suggest that one in 200 babies in the UK is stillborn or dies within days of birth.
A major cause of stillbirth is reduced oxygen levels to the baby (either while in the uterus or during birth). In 34% of stillbirth cases a significant factor is the misuse or misinterpretation of results from cardiotocography (CTG) equipment used to monitor the baby's heartbeat by staff ranging from midwives to consultants.
Health care specialists have a professional duty to monitor both mother and baby carefully and skilfully to identify any worrying changes and treat without delay. Failure in the care which ends in stillbirth or injury may give rise to a compensation claim.
No amount of money will ever compensate for such a tragic loss. Many bereaved parents take action to try to prevent others having to go through the heartbreak they have experienced.
How do I make a stillbirth claim
A stillbirth claim can be made on behalf of the mother in recognition of the medical negligence responsible for her physical injury and trauma caused by the loss of her child. Clearly any parent may suffer psychological distress in these circumstances.
If Access Legal can prove that the stillbirth was a result of sub-standard care during pregnancy or during the birth of your baby, you may have a case for making a claim.
The death of any child under the age of 18 must be reported to the Coroner and reviewed by a Child Death Overview Panel on behalf of the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
However, there is no legal requirement for an inquest to be held in stillbirth cases, although many more Coroners are insisting that such deaths be reported to them.
Stillbirth claims are challenging to deal with, both legally and emotionally. We appreciate that the circumstances that made you contact Access Legal will be very distressing, but our experts will support you every step of the way. If we feel you may have a negligence claim, you can rest assured that you are in the care of one of the very best clinical negligence teams in the UK.
Stillbirth is not a rare tragedy in the UK. Even today, one in four women lose a baby during pregnancy and birth.
Infections such as toxoplasmosis, Group B Streptococcus, listeriosis or German measles (rubella) can cause stillbirth and pre-natal injury while problems with the placenta or premature rupture of the membranes surrounding the baby can often have fatal consequences.
Most employers offer compassionate leave to bereaved parents as part of their basic contract of employment, but even if you’re self-employed or haven’t been with your employer for long enough to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, you may be eligible for Maternity Allowance.
You can find useful advice about government benefits and support on the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity (SANDS) website or on the Gov.UK website. Other information can be found on Tommy’s Website, a charity devised to research into stillbirth and pregnancy problems.
'You need to have a legal team who are caring, who you absolutely trust and who will tell you the truth. Certainly from our point of view Denise Stephens from Access Legal has been absolutely amazing.'
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