For a new mother, the birth is supposed to be a joyous and wonderful affair. There are few things more special than bringing a new life into the world. However, for a young mother in Northern Ireland, her trip to the hospital to give birth turned tragic when she learned her baby was stillborn. An inquest later determined that the death of the baby was preventable but for hospital errors.
Michelle Rocks and her husband were expecting to deliver a healthy baby when they went to the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, Northern Ireland on June 25th. Instead, Baby Cara was delivered stillborn. The hospital is run by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, which has already apologized to Rocks for the death, and accepted that a series of mistakes led to the child’s death.
Dr. Rachel O’Flaherty also apologized to the family, saying the child could have been born healthy if a planned caesarean section had taken place. “Looking at the facts now,” O’Flaherty said, “yes, that could have been the case.” She continued, “I would like to apologize for the distress she has experienced and continued to experience.
According to the investigation, Dr. O’Flaherty had seen Michelle Rocks regularly during her pregnancy. However, at 38 weeks, Dr. O’Flaherty noticed baby Cara was in the wrong position in the womb. O’Flaherty sent Michelle home anyway, a decision she now admits was wrong. “In retrospect, I should have kept her in for observation,” said O’Flaherty. “I probably should have kept her in and got a consultant’s opinion.”
Michelle Rocks had a history of a previous caesarean section, which put her into a higher risk category of patients. Despite this, Michelle Rocks never saw a consultant during her entire pregnancy. Instead, when Rocks asked Dr. O’Flaherty about a planned c-section, given her two previous pregnancies, she was told she could deliver the baby herself.
Dr. O’Flaherty said she could not remember that meeting or discussion. However, the attorney for the Rocks family said Michelle Rocks had been through a previous c-section and knew it would suit her best. Instead, she was told by the doctor that a c-section would not be necessary, and the doctor’s notes indicated a decision was made for a vaginal birth.
According to hospital officials, there were a number of errors that played a part in the child’s death, including wrongly categorizing the mother as “low-risk,” despite a prior c-section; inadequate levels of counselling; incorrectly reading the baby’s heart rate as suspicious instead of critical; and delays in the decision to go forward with an emergency c-section.
“Obviously, this is a tragedy for the family,” said the lawyer for the hospital. “It is not taken lightly and is recognized by all members of the trust who were involved in the case.”
If you or your child were injured due to a medical error, the Gilman & Bedigian team is here to help. We are fully equipped to handle the complex process of your medical malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensation, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.