A Nottingham hospital has admitted liability for a baby’s death after doctors made a two-inch deep cut into his scalp and skull during a caesarean section, causing him to haemorrhage.
Carson Allen died just three hours after he was born at Nottingham City Hospital on July 3, 2013. An inquest into his death concluded in July 2014, recording a verdict of accidental death.
His mother, Claire Smith, 41, of Top Valley, has spent the past four years demanding answers from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, and the clinical negligence claim, led by Nelsons, has finally been settled for an undisclosed sum.
Miss Smith, who has a 22-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter, only found out she was pregnant at 27 weeks in June 2013.
Miss Smith had previously undergone a gynaecological procedure in October 2011, known to cause complications such as early rupture of membranes and pre-term birth, therefore pregnancy should be avoided following such a procedure. However, the trust has accepted that Miss Smith was not properly advised of such risks.
At 30 weeks into her pregnancy, Miss Smith’s waters broke. She spent five days in hospital and was then discharged. But at 33 weeks, she started to go into labour and doctors at the City Hospital declared an emergency caesarean section was the only option.
The procedure that Miss Smith underwent in 2011 should have alerted doctors to this being a high-risk pregnancy. The inquest heard there were several missed opportunities to elicit a full medical history or even check Miss Smith’s medical records properly and had staff been aware of Miss Smith’s medical history, a consultant would have performed the caesarean section rather than a registrar.
Miss Smith said: “I found the inquest very difficult and have spent the past four years thinking this was my fault. I thought the cut on Carson’s head was because of the procedure I had in 2011 – it wasn’t until the result of the post mortem that I found out it was caused by a scalpel.
“As if losing my baby wasn’t enough, I have been put through hell fighting for the reassurance that I could not have prevented my baby son’s death.
“From start to finish, my care was absolutely horrendous. For Carson’s life to end in the way it did is unacceptable. During my c-section, the doctor cut my baby’s head so deeply that he died. I am a good mum and the chance to be a mum to Carson was taken away from me.
“It has been the worst experience of my life and I doubt my family will ever get over our loss. I didn’t just fight this for Carson – I did this for other babies, parents and families. I hope that others don’t have to lose something so precious in such a traumatic way.”
Baishali Clayton, expert clinical negligence solicitor at Nelsons, acted on behalf of Miss Smith at both the inquest and the subsequent civil claim.
She said: “I am delighted that Miss Smith has received the apology she so desperately deserved. She has spent the past four years thinking Carson’s death was her fault, and hopefully this outcome will give her peace of mind and reassurance that it was not.
“Injury to a baby during a caesarean section is a known, but rare, complication and in this case the laceration was much more severe than what would normally be seen.
“I have no doubt the hospital staff will have been very shocked by the circumstances of this case and I understand steps have been taken to prevent this situation from happening again to anybody else.
“This was a very tragic case. What happened to Claire and Carson should never have occurred and although nothing will bring Carson back, I do hope Claire and her family are now able to seek some closure.”
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust said the care Miss Smith received during her pregnancy was not up to standard.
Dr Lucy Kean, head of service for obstetrics and gynaecology at the trust, said: “We reiterate the trust’s condolences to the family on the death of their son, Carson, and apologise for the shortfalls in our care, mindful that no words or amount of money can undo the harm and distress the family have experienced as a result of this case.”