Hospital apologises over death of new-born baby
Friday 21 December 2012
A hospital trust has apologised to the parents of a baby who died after medics failed to spot he was being starved of oxygen during labour.
An inquest into the death of baby Lucas Fermor recorded a narrative verdict after concluding at Warwickshire Coroner's Court.
Deputy coroner for Coventry and Warwickshire Louise Hunt heard that before Lucas was delivered, maternity staff at Warwick Hospital failed to correctly interpret data monitoring his heart rate and a trace, showing Lucas was in distress, was missed.
She was also told that foetal blood samples which could also have identified Lucas was in distress were not taken.
Health bosses at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust have already carried out their own internal investigation, identifying failings in the level of care it provided to the Fermor family.
Mrs Hunt, giving her verdict, said: "Lucas died from hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) caused by asphyxia during labour which went undiagnosed and untreated before birth as a result of a failure to correctly interpret the CTG (cardiotocography) and undertake a foetal blood sample in accordance with the Nice (National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence) guidelines.
Lucas was born on May 29 but had been starved of oxygen for so long that he sustained irreversible brain damage.
He was born white and floppy, according to his parents Natasha and Kent Fermor.
Lucas, who was the couple's first and to date only child, was later transferred to Leicester Royal Infirmary but despite treatment, including a medical procedure to cool his brain, nothing could be done to save him.
Mr and Mrs Fermor requested a christening be held at the hospital, following which he was taken off life support, dying in his parents' arms at 9.30pm on May 31, just two days after birth.
In a further blow for the family, Mrs Fermor, 40, has since been diagnosed with breast cancer and is now undergoing chemotherapy.
Following the inquest, the family's lawyer Guy Forster of Irwin Mitchell LLP urged the trust to do all it could to share the results of "the series of failings" it identified in moments leading up to Lucas's delivery.
He said: "While nothing can turn back the clock for Natasha and Kent, the fact the trust has now admitted liability is of some comfort and hopefully the civil claim can now be quickly resolved."
Mrs Fermor, a technical liaison director with a marketing agency, said: "The hospital had already identified that because of my age, my pregnancy was 'high risk' and as such I should have been carefully monitored during every stage of my labour.
"I was in so much pain because of the drugs they were using to induce the birth, but I was told that everything was fine and as a first-time mother I put my trust and the life of my unborn son in the doctors' hands.
"Even when they realised that Lucas was, in fact, in distress, there seemed to be endless delays taking me into theatre for surgery, where he was finally delivered.
"Kent kept dashing back and forth between me and the doctors who were desperately working on Lucas trying to get lines into him and resuscitate him.
"When he was transferred to Leicester to undergo cooling therapy in an attempt to limit the brain injury he had suffered, I was still recovering from surgery and wasn't able to travel with him.
"I had only seen Lucas for 10 minutes after he had been born and at that point I wasn't aware just how poorly he was.
"When Kent and I saw him in the neonatal intensive care unit, we realised the enormity of the situation. The doctors admitted he was so poorly that the only thing keeping him alive was the life-support equipment.
"We knew we had to say goodbye to him and we quickly arranged a christening service at the hospital and invited close members of our family who came to support us.
"Taking the final decision to turn off his life support is the most difficult thing I have ever had to do but we knew we didn't have any option and Lucas passed away peacefully in our arms."
Mrs Fermor added: "The battle to cope with Lucas's tragic and untimely death has been made even worse by the news that I have advanced breast cancer.
"Despite this, we are determined to remain focused on our battle for justice to ensure the hospital has indeed learnt lessons from what happened to Lucas so that no other couple has to suffer the heartache we have endured."
Glen Burley, the hospital trust's chief executive, said: "The trust has accepted there was a delay in the delivery of Lucas, which we sincerely regret.
"We have fully investigated events leading up to the delivery and have taken action in a number of areas to make improvements.
"On behalf of the trust, I would like to apologise and offer my condolences to Lucas's family."
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