Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust failed to follow best practice consistently, a report into five maternity unit deaths between August 2017 and January 2019 has shown.
Negligence during pregnancy
Four women died either while pregnant or during childbirth and one died within a month of giving birth, prompting the investigation into the trust’s care. External experts in childbirth and midwifery took part in the review into the women’s cases to consider what, if anything, could have been done to prevent the deaths.
In order to minimise risk to patients, care pathways are carefully set out to meet the patient’s particular needs. All five women were deemed to be “high risk” and accordingly their care pathways were more complex.
The report published by the trust found that in three out of the five cases they had failed to meet best practice standards when delivering the care pathways to the women. It was agreed that there were lessons to be learned for such cases in future.
Whilst the report does not go into detail around the causes of death, in one case, an emergency during childbirth causing major bleeding was identified. Given that each of those involved had been identified as high risk, the report also considered whether such instances were preventable.
Preventing risk to mothers
Although the investigation concluded that none of the women’s deaths were ultimately preventable, the trust is seeking to learn from the events. A number of recommendations have been made by the external investigation team which the trust plans to implement.
It is hoped that, by March 2020, care journeys for women at high risk will be planned during an early antenatal appointment in order to ensure that their specific needs are fully met.
In addition, the trust will re-evaluate its process of dealing with excessive bleeding within the first 24 hours following childbirth in order to minimise the risk to both mother and baby.
Inez Brown, partner with Medical Accident Group, said: “Whilst it was concluded that the deaths of these women could not have been prevented, it is concerning to note that there was a failure to fully care for these women during a particularly vulnerable time. It is hoped that better care planning will help to prevent any similar circumstances in the future.”
If you or a family member have suffered from negligence during maternity, Medical Accident Group can help. We have a team of dedicated clinical negligence solicitors who will guide you through the process of making a claim.
Call the team now on 0800 050 1668 or email us at [email protected]