David and Karen White were just like any parents – eager for the birth of their baby boy whom they would name Matthew. It was November 3, 2006 when Karen went into labor at Antrim Area Hospital. Five days later, Matthew died from brain damage. Now, 8 years later, David and Karen are finding out exactly what went wrong.
An initial cardiotocograph (CTG) on the baby’s heart had given no cause for concern when first taken around 6pm on November 3. At 9:22pm that evening, it was agreed that she was experiencing Braxton Hicks – contractions without pain, but a subsequent CTG reading at 11:10pm did show signs that the baby was in distress while Karen complained of having severe cramps and back pain.
Midwifery staff incorrectly diagnosed this as “gel pains” during the morning. Instead, the staff should have responded by assessing uterine contractions to the fetal heart and following that, conducted a vaginal examination, if necessary. When appropriate, analgesia should have been offered. Additionally, Karen should have been assessed every four hours, but this was not done.
The staff at the hospital failed to recognize the onset of labor and take actions. When it was discovered that Karen had gone into labor, she should have been transferred to the labor ward for assessment and fetal heart monitoring.
Between 6:12am and 6:25am, there was a failure to recognize fetal distress in the CTG. Subsequently, there was a delay in starting the appropriate obstetric care.
All of this means that Karen was not appropriately assessed between 11pm and 6pm resulting in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy for little Matthew and causing him to die a mere 5 days later.
A little over a year later, in December 2007, another infant would die from brain damage while in the care of the same nurse at the same hospital.
These heartbreaking stories serve as painful examples of why it’s crucial to do careful research when choosing a hospital to deliver your child at. A simple Google search online can be all you need to find reviews, news stories, or lawsuits about a particular doctor, midwife, or hospital. This is the best thing you can do for your child and yourself.
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