By Marlon Rudy. Last Updated 15th August 2022. Having a baby does come with some risks, but midwife negligence is not one you could have considered likely. However, it could happen, and if it does, it could cause devastating injuries, not just to you but also to your baby.
If you have landed on this page while researching how to make a medical negligence claim, you’re in the right place.
In the guide below, we’ll provide information on midwifery negligence, including explaining the medical negligence claims time limit, information on midwife misdiagnosis, which could include miscarriage misdiagnosis, Cerebral Palsy misdiagnosis, Congenital Hip Dysplasia misdiagnosis, and other birth medical negligence cases. We also take you through how compensation is calculated, and how to find a medical negligence solicitor that could help you claim for private medical or NHS negligence.
If you’d like more information on anything contained within this guide, then why not call our team? You’ll find our contact details at the end of the guide. Otherwise, click below on any of the sections to find out more about midwife negligence.
Select A Section
- A Guide To Midwife Negligence Claims
- What Is Midwife Medical Negligence?
- How Could Midwife Negligence Happen?
- Midwifery Negligence Causing Neonatal Death Or Still-Births
- Gestational And Maternal Diabetes Midwife Negligence
- Cerebral Palsy And Erb’s Palsy Midwife Negligence
- Midwife Negligence Leading To Pre-Eclampsia
- Ectopic Pregnancy Caused By Midwifery Negligence
- Midwife Negligence Leading To Kernicterus
- Midwife Negligence Leading to Birth Injuries To A Mother
- Birth Injuries Claims – What Could Be Included?
- How Long Do I Have To Claim Compensation For Midwife Negligence?
- No Win No Fee Midwife Medical Negligence Compensation Claims
- How Medical Negligence Assist Could Help You
- Medical Negligence Reference Materials
Medical negligence during childbirth could be devastating. Not only could it cause injuries to the mother, but also to the baby, and these injuries could have a long-term impact, not just physically, but emotionally and financially too. Whether you have suffered an ectopic pregnancy misdiagnosis, or stillbirth misdiagnosis or another form of midwife negligence, you could consider making a midwife negligence claim for compensation, not just for the emotional and physical trauma, but for financial costs incurred because of the negligence, such as losses in your wage, and more. Within the sections below, we take a deeper look at midwife negligence, talking in detail about midwife misdiagnoses and the effects that it could have on mother and baby. We’ll also go over what could make up a compensation settlement, as well as talking through how long you have to claim.
A midwife, as a healthcare professional, owes their patients a duty to care. If they fail to offer a reasonable standard of care and are deemed to be negligent, and you or your baby suffer because of this, then you could be in a position to make a midwife negligence claim. Obstetric negligence could happen in several different ways, such as failure to monitor a labouring woman correctly, leading to her or the baby suffering distress, or because a midwife failed to diagnose a condition in either the mother or the baby.
As per the above, midwife negligence could happen in a number of different ways. These could include:
- Failure to note any pre-existing conditions that could contribute to you or your baby’s health during pregnancy or childbirth
- Failure to provide treatment once a condition/complication had been diagnosed
- Failure to report, record or analyse the results of tests which have been completed during pregnancy, whether urine, blood or imaging tests
- Failure to act on symptoms you’ve told them about, whether by referring you to the hospital or arranging tests
- Failure to act while you are in distress in childbirth, or your baby is in distress
This is not an exhaustive list but could provide you with some insight into what could lead to midwife negligence claims.
Sadly, there could be instances where a woman might have a stillbirth. Whether it is due to improper administration of any medication, through midwives using excessive force when delivering the baby, or because there was a life-threatening condition that wasn’t diagnosed (a stillbirth misdiagnosis), the results could be fatal for the baby. If your neonatal death or stillbirth was due to midwives’ negligence, you could consider making a claim for midwife negligence. While no compensation would truly make up for the loss of your baby, it could help you financially after such a devastating experience.
Maternal/gestational diabetes is a condition that could occur in pregnancy. It is a type of diabetes, which means that there is a higher amount of sugar in the blood than normal. During pregnancy, some women’s blood sugar increases, and this could happen in pregnancy any time from 28 weeks. It does, usually, resolve after the baby is born.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes could include:
- Family history of any type of diabetes
- You have suffered gestational diabetes before, with a previous pregnancy
- You’ve had a larger baby (over 10lbs) previously
- Your BMI is over 30
- You come from a family who has origins in the Middle East, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India or the Caribbean
Your midwife should ask about these risk factors, to determine how many you have. If you have one or more, then they should offer you gestational diabetes screening. You could be screened at around 6-8 weeks of pregnancy via a blood test, and then you should be offered a further test, known as a glucose tolerance test, at between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. If you are not screened even if you have risk factors, or screening is delayed, and you or your baby suffer as a result, you could consider beginning a case for maternal diabetes misdiagnosis due to midwife negligence.
If maternal diabetes is not diagnosed and treated/monitored, then it could lead to complications which could include:
- Premature birth
- Larger baby, which could lead to complications during the birth such as shoulder dystocia, or a lack of oxygen leading to cerebral palsy
- Birth trauma – this on its own could lead to you seeking traumatic birth compensation
If you have suffered midwife negligence in this manner, then you could look into making a personal injury claim.
Cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy may sound similar, but they are actually very different.
Cerebral palsy is a brain injury. It could happen to a baby because of a variety of reasons. If a baby suffers a severe infection, it could cause cerebral palsy, or if they have a head injury that is serious, or is starved of oxygen while the mother is giving birth, cerebral palsy could occur. If a midwife is negligent in monitoring and diagnosing foetal distress or any other injury/infection that occurred during pregnancy, and cerebral palsy occurs, then this could lead to a claim for compensation.
In fact, this is exactly what happened. It has been reported that one NHS hospital paid out around £7m in a single case involving a student midwife not monitoring a baby during birth. The student was left unsupervised and did not follow guidelines put in place by the NHS for regular monitoring of labouring women. This led to the baby being starved of oxygen and he suffered catastrophic cerebral palsy. The payout was awarded in order to pay for the cost of specialist care throughout the child’s lifetime.
Erb’s palsy, another condition that could occur, is serious nerve damage that could happen to the baby if its shoulders get stuck during childbirth. This could lead to physical disabilities that may be lifelong. If your baby has suffered an Erb’s Palsy misdiagnosis, then you could look into making claims for compensation on behalf of your child.
Other midwife negligence cases could occur because of the failure to diagnose, spot the warning signs and treat pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a condition that shows up as protein in the mother’s bloodstream. It is thought to produce symptoms that could include severe headaches, water retention, liver failure, vision problems, dizziness and vomiting. If it is not treated, the condition could be life-threatening for mother and baby.
The only way to treat pre-eclampsia, however, is for the mother to give birth to the baby, which means that anyone suspected of having pre-eclampsia should be carefully monitored, to ensure that the condition does not become so severe that the life/health of the mother or baby is compromised. Sometimes, you could be induced or may need a caesarean section earlier than you usually would. If you have suffered harm because of a pre-eclampsia misdiagnosis, you could consider making a medical negligence claim.
It is not just birth negligence that could lead to a midwife negligence claim. When a fertilised egg is implanted in a fallopian tube or anywhere outside of the womb, this is known as an ectopic pregnancy. This could cause a severe risk to health. Sadly, there is no way of saving the foetus if this happens, and the mother’s health takes priority in these cases. Sometimes, an operation may be required to remove the pregnancy, whereas in other cases medication may be required. It is thought that around 11,000 cases of ectopic pregnancy are reported in the UK each year, which is one in around 90 pregnancies. If you suffer symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, these should be looked into as a matter of urgency, as you may need medical intervention to save not only your fertility but also your life. Symptoms known to be linked to an ectopic pregnancy could include:
- Pain in the shoulder tip
- Pain in the lower abdomen, just on one side
- Discharge/vaginal bleeding
- Discomfort when going to the toilet
If your midwife is told of these symptoms but does not act to examine/refer you, and your health suffers as a result, you could consider making a claim for compensation for your pain and your suffering, as well as any costs incurred due to midwife negligence.
Other cases of medical negligence during childbirth could involve a Kernicterus misdiagnosis. It is a complication that could occur due to newborn jaundice, and one that could be avoided if correct monitoring and medical procedures are followed. If a newborn is not diagnosed and treated urgently for this condition, then it could lead to brain damage.
If midwife negligence occurs and your baby suffers because of this, then you could look into finding a personal injury solicitor to help you make a claim for compensation. A settlement could help to pay for specialist care for your baby and the payout could in some cases, be able to cover the treatment required for the rest of the child’s life.
It is not only the baby that could be injured during the birth, but the mother also could too. There are many ways in which this could happen.
While some maternal birth injuries could be considered unavoidable, if midwife negligence leads to a birth injury, you could have cause not just to make a midwifery complaint, but to put forward a claim for compensation.
Some birth injuries could include:
- Post-Partum Haemorrhage
- Prolapsed womb
- Ruptured womb
- Post-natal depression/psychosis or PTSD
One of the common types of birth injuries that could result from midwife negligence is a tear. Here, we take a look at tears in more detail.
Around 90% of mothers suffer tears in the perineum when birthing a baby. The perineum is the skin that is between the vagina and the anus. While most tears of this type are mild and resolve quickly after the birth, more serious tears may need treatment. The levels of tearing can be seen below:
- 1st Degree Tears – These are skin deep and affect just the skin’s outermost layer. You may or may not need stitches for these. Usually, your midwife would discuss with you whether they feel you need stitches. These tears tend to heal quickly.
- 2nd Degree Tears – The muscles of the vagina could be affected as well as the skin that surrounds the anus. Stitches would be required and these could be dissolvable. These types of tears could be quite painful and could take several weeks to heal properly, and you should be checked regularly to ensure you are healing well.
- 3rd and 4th Degree Tears – These could be considered quite serious, and they could be significantly deeper than the previous types of tears. A 3rd-degree tear could cause damage to the sphincter, which is the muscle that controls your anus. A 4th-degree tear could also involve the muscles of the anus and the lining.
Improper diagnosis and treatment of vaginal tears could lead to issues with:
- Pain during sexual activity
- Pain when passing urine
- Soreness when sitting or being active
- A fistula – a hole that could occur between the anus and vagina – this could cause some faeces to pass from your anus to your vagina
Whether you have suffered a tear due to negligence, or any other birth injury due to midwife negligence, you could look into making a compensation claim.
A person making a birth injury compensation claim could seek general damages and special damages.
General damages will look at your suffered injury, and award you an amount for the pain and suffering it may have caused you. This can also address negative effects on your quality of life and loss of amenity.
Not all claimants will be eligible for special damages. If the injury had affected you financially, you can seek special damages to compensate you for your losses. You could be asked to provide evidence that supports the amount you are requesting, such as payslips or bills. The losses you are claiming for will have to be related to your injury.
A request for compensation in birth injuries claims could be made for:
- Care costs
- Prescription costs
- Lost earnings
- Modifications made to your home to help you cope with your injury
Please speak to one of our advisers for information about the costs you could be able to include in your claim. They could also give you advice on how to work with No Win No Fee lawyers in your medical malpractice claim.
In terms of establishing the medical negligence time limit for a midwife negligence claim, there are a variety of factors that may need to be considered. Normally, the time limit is three years. This could be either from the date of the negligence or the date the injury was discovered. Since some of these cases involve children, you might need to claim on behalf of yourself or your child, or if you have lost your partner because of midwife negligence, you may be able to claim compensation for their pain and suffering before they passed away as well as claim for the effects their passing may have had on you. The table below describes some situations and their time limits, but don’t hesitate to check with us if you’re unsure of what would apply to your case.
Position Limitation period
Claiming for yourself – when you realised negligence occurred right away Up to three years from the negligent act
Claiming for yourself – negligence discovered later Up to three years from the negligence discovery
Claiming on behalf of a child Up to three years from discovery or negligence (You can call us to check)
If you are wondering about how you’ll go about paying for a medical negligence lawyer for their assistance, then you may be pleased to learn that No Win, No Fee claims could be an option for you.
No Win, No Fee claims do not require you to pay any money upfront or while the claim is ongoing. You would, instead, sign a conditional fee agreement with your medical negligence solicitor, a term of which is to agree to pay them a small percentage of your compensation settlement to help cover legal fees. This percentage is capped by law.
Once your midwife negligence claim is settled, your medical negligence lawyer would be paid the required percentage from your settlement, while you would benefit from the rest. The benefits could far outweigh the reduced financial risk and the fact that you would not have to pay upfront for your legal fees.
Naturally, your solicitor would be trying their hardest to secure you the highest compensation, as this would also impact the amount they earned from your case, as well as the amount you would receive in compensation. In addition, you can be sure that they wouldn’t take on a case they thought would fail to secure compensation.
If you’d like to go down this route, you may be pleased to learn that we could connect you with a solicitor that works to this payment scheme.
Whether you have further questions about making a midwifery complaint, or you’d like us to help find you a legal representative for your midwife negligence claim, simply call us on 0800 652 3087. We’d be delighted to help you.
We offer free advice which comes with absolutely no commitment from you to use our services, although we’d be happy to provide these to you as well. We could help not just with advice but also with connecting you with a solicitor with the appropriate knowledge and experience to assist with your midwife negligence claim. Whatever you need, we’re here to help you, any time you wish to call us.
Below, you’ll find some appropriate reading material that may help build on your knowledge of making midwife negligence claims. We do hope you find it helpful.
NHS – Ectopic Pregnancy – The NHS has provided a guide on ectopic pregnancy that you might find useful.
NHS Birth Statistics – This link takes you to a report on maternity statistics from the NHS.
Pre-eclampsia – For more information on pre-eclampsia, the NHS guide can be found here.
Below, you can find links to all of our medical negligence claims guides:
- A guide to medical negligence claims
- Punctured lung injuries negligence claims
- Dry needling gone wrong claims
- MRSA claims
- Acupuncture gone wrong – negligence claims
- Eye injury medical negligence
- Neurological medical negligence
- Respiratory illness clinical negligence claims
- Nerve injury caused by medical negligence – how to claim
- Spina Bifida negligence claims
- Needlestick injury claims
- How much could my medical negligence claim be worth?
- Retained placenta negligence claims
- Private healthcare medical negligence
- Facelift surgery negligence claims
- Coolsculpting and fat freezing negligence claims
- Liposuction negligence claims
- Orthopaedic negligence
- Clinical negligence in a nursing home
- Carpal tunnel syndrome and medical negligence
- Medical negligence compensation calculator
- Lost medical records claims
- What is the medical negligence time limit?
- Claims for negligent cool sculpting and fat freezing
- Failure to prevent suicide – can you claim?
- Ophthalmic negligence claims
- Defective medical devices claims
- Amputation negligence
- Anaesthetic negligence claims
- A&E medical negligence
- Hip dysplasia claims
Written by Jo
Edited by Ed