Demand that doctors are held accountable for birth injuries.
Demand that doctors are held accountable for birth injuries.
In 2008 I gave birth to my son. My pregnancy was a difficult one, with different conditions including heart failure, that was failed to be diagnosed until after my son was born. This was a difficult time, leaving me to spend 10 days in coronary care, and my son in special care. This seemed like a nightmare but nothing could have prepared me for what was still to come.
My son was delivered by a suction cap, after my labour slowed down during stage 2 of my labour, at 07.00am, the doctor who was in charge of the ward that day, was made aware that my labour had slowed down, and was in a position to use Oxytocin, a recognised drug that would have allowed my labour to speed up once again, and allow for a natural delivery. The slowing of my labour was identified 3 hours before my son was actually born, giving plenty of time for a discussion to take place between myself and the obstiatrician, allowing me to make a decision on what route I wanted to take with regards to the delivery of my son. When the delivery slows down, and doesn't return to a natural speed, the doctors must then decide what is the best way to move forward and progress the labour, oxytocin would be the 1st thing to be considered, in my case, according to my medical notes, this was considered, but was never offered and I was never given an option of receiving this to help speed up my labour once again.
Over the next 2 and a half hours, I was monitored and my labour wasn't progressing, but never during that time was I given an option of how I wanted my labour and the birth of my child to proceed. The Royal College of Surgeons, have guidelines 3.5.1 (Consent) that explains how doctors need to go about getting consent from a patient, Recognise that seeking consent for surgical intervention is not merely the signing of a form. It is the process of providing the information that enables the patient to make a decision to undergo a specific treatment. Consent should be considered informed decision making, or informed request. It requires time, patience and clarity of explanation. Obtain the patient’s consent prior to surgery and ensure that the patient has sufficient time and information to make an informed decision. The specific timing and duration of the discussion should take into account the complexity and risks of the proposed procedure. A patient’s consent should not be taken in the anaesthetic room.At the consent discussion, provide information on the procedure and its implications. In particular, you should discuss information about:The patient’s diagnosis and prognosis
Options for treatment, including non-operative care and no treatment
The purpose and expected benefit of the treatment
The likelihood of success
The clinicians involved in their treatment
The risks inherent in the procedure, however small the possibility of their occurrence, side effects and complications. The consequences of non-operative alternatives should also be explained.
Potential follow up treatment
When a women is in labour and a decision on how she wants her baby to be delivered has to be considered, if she is failing to proceed naturally, according to the guidelines, she should be told what is available, vonteous , forceps or C-section, she should be made aware of all possible outcomes, even if the outcomes only represents 1% and she should be made aware of all possibilities no matter how small.
After 2 hours of a slowed second stage labour, I was told by the treating doctor that he was going to deliver my son by vontous, (suction cap), never at anytime was I offered an alternative or told about the possible outcomes of this delivery. When a lady has an assisted delivery, there are possibilities that she will suffer a tear, the degree of the tear can never be known before hand, but the likely hood of a tear is evident. The chance of a tear increases in various cases, and these are outline in Nice guidelines No 29, explaining the management of 3/4th degree tears. Due to the fact this was my first child and that I was having an assisted delivery, my chances of such a tear increased.
When a women has an assisted delivery, a particular examination must take place, to identify or rule out such a tear. The tear can affect the sphincter muscle and extending to the anus, if this is found to be the case, the women if taken to theatre to allow for a repair to take place. The examination includes the doctor carrying out an internal examination, that includes using the index finger and the thumb to check if any tears are present, a look and see procedure is not sufficient as a tear further down can not be seen by the naked eye.
My son was delivered by suction, I never received the examination that is outlined in guidelines. I spent a further 10days in hospital due to complications of heart failure that they had failed to diagnose, the day after giving birth to my son, I developed severe bruising to my right buttock, the pain was unbelievable, leaving me unable to sit or rest on it, I was given morphine for the pain, on the 5th day, I suffered a hemorrhage, causing me to loose 4 pints of blood and needing emergency surgery to safe my life. I had a 6cm tear at the back of my vaginal wall that had been bleeding into my buttock for 5 days, this tear had been missed due to a proper examination not being carried out by the doctor who delivered my son. I left the hospital 5 days later, but on returning home I found it was very difficult for me to control my bowel movements, causing me to experience incontinence. At first I thought this was just something that happened after birth and things would return to normal, during a meeting with my consultant to discuss the missed heart failure, my husband mentioned the incontinence I had been experiencing since returning home. He said he would need to refer me to a colorectal surgeon. For the next 5 months I attended the hospital and was put through various test, eventually being diagnosed with a tear that had torn my sphincter muscle, that had been missed at the time of my sons birth due to not being examined properly. I was told I would need surgery and after the surgery I would need a colostomy bag to allow the muscle to heal, so 13 months after birth I went in for major surgery, and wore a colostomy bag for 6 months, after which they reversed the colostomy bag to see if the surgery had been successful, regretfully it hadn't, leaving me still bowel incontinent, trying to do any kind of surgery to a muscle that had been left for over a year is obviously very difficult and the success would be very low. Evidence proves that if the injury had been repaired at the time of the delivery, it gives a higher chance of success.
I have been fighting the NHS for 8 years to try and get the justice I deserve, to get the doctor who failed to follow guidelines and protocols to be held accountable for how he had changed my life. Women who are pregnant deserve to receive the highest standard of care available, it should never be a postcode lottery on what doctor treats you and what kind of care you receive. Guidelines and protocols are put in place for a reason, and when doctors don't do what is best for the patient they need to be held accountable. My case is due to be heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in February 2017, that's nearly 9 years after having my son, but due to the way medical negligence is looked at, if one doctor agrees with the actions that have caused the injury then potentially the NHS win and the patient has no case. This is so wrong, expert witnesses come from all areas of medicine and many are older and haven't practiced and their views go against all guidelines and protocols that have been put in place to protect the patient, the guidelines also protect the good doctors who offer a duty of care, that is consistently offered to patients.
Up until now I have never had an answer from the doctor on why he didn't follow guidelines, why I wasn't offered oxytocin, why the pro's and cons of a particular intervention where never explained and why I wasn't given the appropriate information to make an informed choice. I know that hundreds of women will be left with injuries like mine. Knowledge is power and if I can give pregnant women a voice is what should happen during their care, then this petition will be worth it. Doctors are not held accountable by anyone, I thought at one point the Royal College of Surgeons was responsible for the actions of their registered doctors , but in fact they are not and have until now not taken any notice of my concerns.
I have lost my career and have been unable to return to a full time job due to my injury and how it affects my daily life, I also feel my son has suffered as a result of this.
When someone decides to become a doctor, it is something they dedicate their life too, it is more than a career. The actions and decisions they make on a daily basis can have major consequences on someone's life. Doctors are special individuals who have extreme courage in carrying out their daily duties, and many daily decisions can be difficult but that is why guidelines and protocols are in place, to look after the patient and as a safety net for the doctors, these protocols and guidelines are evidence based and have been proven to be the best way forward.