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Caesarean Section Negligence Claim Solicitors

 

Approximately one in four births results in a caesarean section (C-section), with some of these being elective due to pre-existing contraindications to vaginal birth, such as a baby in breech position or back-to-back with the mother. Some C-sections are necessary when an emergency situation arises during labour, for example fetal distress.

The vast majority of the time, a caesarean section is performed safely, and the baby is delivered successfully. However, in rare cases, a C-section could result in injury to the mother and/or baby, either accidentally, or through some form of clinical negligence.

If you and/or your baby have been injured during a caesarean birth, our medical negligence team can advise you as to whether you have a case for seeking compensation.

We understand that money cannot take away the suffering endured by you and/or your baby, but we will strive to get you the answers you deserve as well as financial compensation to ensure you have access to the medical assistance you require in your recovery and rehabilitation.

What is a caesarean section?

A caesarean section is a surgical procedure in which a baby is delivered via an incision in the lower abdomen. In most cases, the surgery is carried out whilst the mother is awake, with the use of a spinal block injection to numb the body from the waist down, preventing the mother from feeling any pain, plus a screen to obscure her view of the surgery. In some cases, it may be necessary to perform the procedure under a general anaesthetic.

Once the anaesthetic has been administered, the surgeon begins the procedure by making an incision of around 10 to 20 centimetres across the abdomen, just above the bikini line, followed by an incision in the womb. If the mother is awake during the procedure, she may feel a tugging or pulling sensation as the baby is lifted from the womb. The baby is usually then handed to the mother, the umbilical cord is cut, and the mother receives an injection of oxytocin to encourage the uterus to contract, which helps to reduce the amount of blood lost. The surgeon then delivers the placenta via the incision before suturing the wound and applying a dressing in order to prevent an infection.

The whole procedure typically lasts for around 40 to 60 minutes, the mother is then taken to the recovery room afterwards, where she can enjoy skin to skin contact with her new-born baby.

What could go wrong during or after a C-section?

As with any form of surgery, a C-section carries some risks. The surgeon and medical staff, looking after the mother and baby during the procedure, will be highly trained and experienced in handling a variety of different issues that could potentially present during the surgery. Yet, as meticulous as the medical staff are, a mother may still experience problems post-surgery which require immediate medical attention, including:

  • Severe pain in and around the wound
  • Severe vaginal bleeding
  • Bleeding or pain when urinating, or bladder leakage
  • Changes in the colour or shape of the wound
  • Increasing redness or swelling of the wound
  • Pus or discharge from the wound along with a potent smell
  • Pain or swelling in the lower legs
  • A persistent cough or shortness of breath

How does a caesarean injury commonly occur?

All types of surgery carry potential risks, and caesarean sections are no different. The surgeon performing the procedure will have undergone years of studying and training, and in the vast majority of cases the surgery will go off without a hitch. However, complications and injuries can happen due to a number of reasons, including:

  • Post-surgery infection could become more serious or even life-threatening if treatment is delayed
  • Excessive bleeding could occur, requiring a blood transfusion or additional corrective surgery
  • Postpartum endometritis, which is a bacterial infection of the womb lining
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which is a blood clot in the leg causing pain and swelling, and could travel to the lungs causing a life-threatening pulmonary embolism
  • The mother may experience internal injuries due to surgical error, such as a perforated bladder or bowel, which can lead to incontinence
  • Improper suturing of the wound, increasing the risk of it reopening during a future pregnancy
  • Surgical error could cause nerve damage which leads to numbness in part of the mother’s body
  • An error could be made when the anaesthetic is being administered
  • Surgical error could mean the baby experiences lacerations, fractures, nerve damage, or brachial plexus damage during the procedure, which can lead to Erb’s palsy
  • A delay in carrying out a C-section can lead to the baby suffering oxygen starvation, which can cause conditions such as cerebral palsy
  • A delayed caesarean could also mean the baby’s head becomes stuck in the birth canal and is put under excessive pressure, resulting in brain damage

Some of these things, such as post-surgery infections, can happen in even the most routine and straightforward cases, and can be easily treated with antibiotics. However, some of these problems can occur or be made worse due to clinical negligence, potentially leading to chronic or life-long problems, or in some cases even proving fatal to mother or baby.

If you have experienced any problems as a direct result of your caesarean section and you feel that you have received negligent care from the hospital, you may have a case for claiming compensation and our team of medical negligence solicitors will be happy to advise you.

When is a caesarean section necessary?

There are a number of factors which could mean that a caesarean section is a safer option than a vaginal birth, including:

  • The baby is in breech position (bottom down instead of head down)
  • The baby is back-to-back with the mother which can make vaginal birth difficult
  • Pelvic disproportion, i.e. the mother’s pelvis is too narrow for a safe delivery
  • A prolapsed umbilical cord e.g. slipped out of position or squashed
  • Placental abruption, in which the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus
  • Placenta praevia, which is where the uterus is blocked by the membrane, thus obstructing birth
  • Fetal distress e.g. heart rate slows and takes longer than expected to recover after contractions
  • Assisted delivery failure i.e. when forceps or ventouse have been unsuccessful
  • Uterine rupture, which is when the uterus opens, usually along the scar from a previous C-section

What happens before a C-section?

If the caesarean section is pre-planned, the mother will be invited to the hospital around a week before the due date for a preoperative appointment. This appointment provides the parents with the opportunity to ask any questions they may have about the procedure. The doctor will also request a blood test to check for anaemia.

The doctor will discuss the variety of medication available to the mother before, during, and after the procedure, such as antibiotics, anti-sickness medication, pain relief, and medication that reduces the amount of acid in the stomach. The mother will also be asked to sign a consent form and advised to stop eating and drinking several hours before the procedure.

If the caesarean is to take place in an emergency situation, the preoperative process will move quickly. The mother will be informed of all associated risks and asked to sign a consent form, and immediately after she will be prepped for surgery. This will usually involve compression stockings being put onto her legs, before she is wheeled through to theatre to have the spinal block. In an emergency situation, it can be as little as 15 minutes between signing the consent form and being on the operating table, which can feel very overwhelming and traumatising for the mother.

What happens after a C-section?

Once the C-section surgery is complete, the mother is usually moved to a recovery ward or private room, where she can rest and recover from the effects of the anaesthetic, before being offered pain relief for the post-surgery discomfort she may be experiencing. Surgery typically carries the risk of blood clots, so the mother will most likely be given blood-thinning medication and compression stockings to help reduce the risk.

As soon as the mother feels hungry again after the surgery, she should be offered food and drink, and she should also be offered help with breastfeeding if she has chosen to feed her baby in that way, as it can be difficult to establish breastfeeding after the physical trauma of surgery. Mothers are typically encouraged to get out of bed and start moving about within the first 24 hours of their C-section as this can help with long-term recovery, although doctors also advise not to do too much too soon.

Some mothers will spend around three to four days in hospital after their C-section so that the midwives and doctors can make sure they are recovering well, and that mother and baby are both healthy. For others this will be less. Before leaving the hospital, a midwife will advise the mother how to care for their wound in order to prevent infection, including keeping the wound clean and dry, and avoiding tight clothes that will rub on the wound. If the wound was closed with non-dissolvable stitches, these should be removed by a midwife around seven days after the surgery.

How do I claim compensation for a caesarean section mistake?

If you or your baby were injured during the caesarean section and you feel that clinical negligence was to blame, please get in touch with us here at Lanyon Bowdler and our specialist team of solicitors will be happy to help and advise you. We will take the time to listen to your account of what happened, and we will then assess whether or not you have grounds to claim compensation. If we consider that that the hospital’s duty of care to you was potentially breached, and that breach caused you/your baby to suffer injuries, then there is a strong chance we can help you to receive compensation.

In order to put forward your case we will need to obtain evidence, such as medical records and any correspondence relevant to the case. We will then contact the hospital or organisation responsible for your care to lay the grounds for your clinical negligence claim.

Is there a time limit for making a caesarean compensation claim?

Yes; as with most medical negligence cases, the time limit for bringing a claim for a caesarean injury caused by negligent care is three years from the date of the injury, or three years from the date that you were first aware of the injury. For example, if the injury only came to light several months or years on from the C-section, this is when the three-year period would begin.

It can typically take around three to four years for the claim to be fully processed and for the outcome to be determined, so we would recommend that you contact us as soon as you are able to in order to avoid possible delays that could affect your case.

Can we act under a no win no fee agreement?

Yes, we are able to offer our service on a “no win-no fee” basis, also known as a conditional fee agreement. This means that if your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t be charged for any fees, and if your case is successful, you will be required to pay a percentage of the final compensation awarded to cover our fees.

How much compensation could I receive?

The amount of compensation awarded varies from case to case, but it will reflect the pain and suffering you and/or your child have had to endure, as well as the financial impact that your injuries may have had, or are likely have in the future. You can be compensated for loss of earnings, medical expenses, care expenses, the cost of therapy, and any specialist equipment you may now require due to the injuries.

We understand that no amount of money can make up for the suffering that you and your family have experienced, but we will fight to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation that you are entitled to.

Why choose Lanyon Bowdler?

Our medical negligence team is made up of highly qualified and experienced solicitors who specialise in birth injury cases, as well as an in-house doctor, and two nurses, so we are well-equipped to handle a wide variety of medical negligence cases. We are proud to have been recognised and accredited by both The Legal 500 and Chambers UK for 2022, and we won the Clinical Negligence Team of the Year title in 2018 at the Eclipse Proclaim Personal Injury Awards in Manchester, beating off strong competition from across the UK.

Please get in touch with us today to find out what we can do for you.

Contact Lanyon Bowdler's Medical Negligence Lawyers Today

If you think you or a family member has received negligent treatment before, during or after a caesarean section which has left you or a loved one distressed, in pain, or with additional health problems, then it is likely you are entitled to make a compensation claim.

Give us a call or complete our online enquiry form, to see how our team can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve. 

There is no obligation or any charges for our initial assessment. 

By choosing Lanyon Bowdler for a Medical Negligence Compensation Claim, you can rest assured that you have the best legal expertise on your team. 

Lanyon Bowdler's medical negligence team is widely acclaimed and recognised as one of the best clinical negligence departments in the country. 

We have offices in Shrewsbury, Bromyard, Conwy, Hereford, Ludlow, Oswestry, and Telford, so are able to act for clients all over Shropshire, Herefordshire, Mid and North Wales and across the Midlands (including Wolverhampton & Birmingham). As a leading full-service law firm, we can represent you wherever you live in England and Wales.

We are committed to providing exceptional levels of client care and will work closely and considerately with you to help find the best outcomes and help to get your life back on track.

If you wish to complain or seek compensation for an incident of medical or clinical negligence, our team of specialists will be able to deal with it in a sensitive and approachable way.

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