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Sonographer didn't see that the baby had a rare chromosomal disorder which was not compatible with life

(31 Posts)
Kloenina Thu 12-Sep-13 11:20:46

Hello Ladies
I am new here and I need some advice on how should I proceed or what can I do.
Here is my case, I got pregnant in november with end of august due date. The pregnancy went fine I had three scans on the first scan the sonographer couldn't take baby's measures and I have seen a consultant 2 weeks later and she said that everything is fine. Then I had a scan at 20 weeks the sonographer couldn't take the measurements again she has seen me 2 times that day and took the measurements in the end and she said that everything was fine and the baby is developing normally. The pregnancy went fine afterwords until I started to feel bad on the 7th month I started to have high blood pressure, I went to hospital and was put on medication but my pre-eclamsia got worse and they have done a Doppler and saw that the blood is not going normally to the baby through the placenta. I had a c section and when the baby was born the doctors started to see that something was not right with her. She was transferred to a different hospital because she needed an operation whilst I stayed in the same hospital because I had eclampsia and it was unsafe. I didn't see my baby for two days, when I went to the hospital where my baby was I was told that the ADN results came back and that she had a chromosomal disorder that is not compatible with life. My baby died 4 days later and I was left with emptiness in my life. Friends keep telling me to sue the hospital but I don't know if that is going to help me in any way. Has somebody gone thru something like that, what are the consequences.

BranchingOut Thu 12-Sep-13 11:34:10

I am so sorry, you must be devastated.

I think that the best place to start might be to get in touch with SANDS - the stillbirth and neonatal death organisation.

exexpat Thu 12-Sep-13 11:37:45

So sorry for your loss. You have been through a very traumatic time, but I can't see what you could really sue the hospital for, and how it would help you.

As a non-expert, I thought chromosomal abnormalities could only be confirmed through invasive tests like amniocentesis or CVS, not ultrasound - obviously an ultrasound can spot some problems, but there is no guarantee it will find everything. Did you have any other screening or tests? And it sounds like your baby would, sadly, have died anyway, whether or not the condition had been picked up earlier.

If you think the hospital was negligent and should have spotted the problem, or treated you badly, have you tried going through the hospital complaints system first? My feeling would be that trying to take legal action against the hospital would be pointless and would just prolong your trauma.

If what you are really looking for is emotional closure, you might find it more helpful to look for support from something like SANDS, the neonatal death charity.

Anyonedotcom Thu 12-Sep-13 11:48:43

I'm very sorry for your loss. It must have been a huge shock i echo evrryone else please get in touch with SANDS. I can totally understand that you are feeling angry and let down by the health care professionals

However I do not think you would be able to sue as scans are a screening tool and not a conclusive test. Some markers for chromonsonal abnormalities may be spotted in a scan but The only way to diagnose chromosonal abnormalities is through amnio and CVS.

Charleymouse Thu 12-Sep-13 11:53:58

I am so sorry for your loss. I suggest you post on the bereaved mums thread on here they will give you heaps of support.

I have gone through something similar.
Pregnant with DTs one had an exomphalos so I was scanned umpteen times.
Knew there were potential issues 1/3 risk of Chromosonal abnormalities so chose to have amnio. Came back clear.
Baby was born and was incompatible with life due to no trachea. He died after 9 hours.
I did not sue as at the time I did not think it would help me or my family and thought it was just (unfortunatly) one of those things.
Now I think back and think how could they not see something so fundamental was missing and do occasionally wonder if I should sue but what would I gain?

I'm not sure from your details whether they were in anyway negligent.
Did you have an amnio or CVS which is how you can definitively test for chromosonal abnormalities. I'm afraid I have learnt from experience that scans do not see all. What they do is highlight some known isses which can then be investigated further if necessary/appropriate.

I'm afraid I don't know what to advise you. Have you had a debrief with hospital yet as that is what they offered me?

I do think sometimes people don't know what to say to bereaved Mums and are quick to point the finger of blame and suggest suing. But only you and they medical team know whether it is the case here.

StupidFlanders Thu 12-Sep-13 11:59:18

I have also experienced similar and agree with everything charleymouse said.

JessieMcJessie Thu 12-Sep-13 12:08:26

Sorry for your loss. Your friends are not being helpful. In a bereavement situation it is human nature to seek to blame someone or something, but more often than not it is nobody's fault. You need help to work through that, not encouragement to bring legal action. However if you are feeling unable to shake the idea, have a free session with a solicitor. They will explain why you would mot have a case against the hospital and then you can put the idea away amd start to heal.

AngelsLieToKeepControl Thu 12-Sep-13 12:13:41

Sadly I have been in a very similar position to you. I am so sorry that you are now walking this path too thanks

My daughter was born 6 years ago. I had a feeling throughout my pregnancy that something wasn't right, I told the sonographer at every scan (I had them monthly) and she told me I was being paranoid. She checked my daughters organs and that she was growing and dismissed what I said because, on the face of it everything was growing normally.

When my daughter was born she was taken away before I even saw her, I had no clue what was going on. I won't go into details as it's very distressing, but she was on life support for 2 weeks and there was no hope at all she would get better so we had to let her go.

I blamed the sonographer entirely. I needed someone to be angry at, and she was that person. I wrote to the hospital detailing my concerns and how the sonographer had spoken to me. They replied more or less asking what I wanted to do, did I want to take legal action.

When I thought about it, after the initial intense anger subsided, I realised it wouldn't have changed anything really. By the time my daughters condition was picked up, tests done etc I would then have either had to decide have a late termination or have given birth to her as I did, although I would have been more prepared the outcome would have been the same.

My personal choice was not to take legal action, in reality she didn't do much wrong, and there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of conditions that would be nearly impossible to spot on a scan, but I did complain about the way she talked to me and she was given 'extra training' whatever that means.

Obviously its your choice what to do, but I would say before you make a choice, to speak to someone at SANDS (as a pp has said and linked to) they can really help you work through your feelings and their only agenda is to help do what is right for you if that is legal action they can support you, if not then they will help you however they can.

Whatever you decide to do please be gentle on yourself, there is no right or wrong way to deal with losing your child, you just have to do what gets you through each day thanks

lougle Thu 12-Sep-13 12:17:49

I'm so sorry that you've had such a traumatic experience.

The ultrasound scans are intended to screen for abnormalities and highlight potential issues. I would expect the ultrasound to pick up major structural abnormalities in the bones, heart, bowel, bladder, kidneys, liver, etc.

Whether the scan could pick up a chromosomal disorder would depend on how it affected your baby physically. For example, my DD has a (probable) genetic disorder, although it hasn't been identified yet. She does have a brain malformation as a result. I had many many ultrasounds for various reasons and the only thing that was identified prior to birth was that she was 'small for dates'. She was induced as a result of that (and was normal weight!). Her actual SN were only properly identified at 2 years 9 months.

duchesse Thu 12-Sep-13 12:30:47

My sympathies with you.

I had the reverse problem through my 3rd pregnancy of being assured that there was something wrong with my child (namely IUGR) which began a cascade of underestimated weight assessments and had the obstetricians pushing very hard for very early induction (at 32/33 weeks shock). My daughter was born perfectly healthy at 42 weeks weighing 7.5 lbs. I'd had to have 2-weekly scans and a trip to the Harris Birthright unit at Kings in London for half my pregnancy. I was always convinced she was fine. The HBT sonographer was very surprised I was even there as she thought the weight looked fine.

My conclusion was that sonography is a very complex and fuzzy science with many areas of uncertainty, best left in the hands of very competent people. I think you probably ought to make a complaint if only so the hospital has a flag against this woman's name in case of future problems.

I am terribly sorry for the loss of your daughter. May you heal quickly.

I'm so sorry you've been through this sad. Absolutely heartbreaking for you and your family.

When your DD was born, and the doctors suspected problems, was she given heart or kidney scans? Or an MRI? If she was, and they clearly showed structural problems with her organs or brain that could have been or should have been detected during pregnancy then you may have grounds for legal action. But it would be an extremely distressing and harrowing path to go down and you would need to be sure that the outcome would be worth the stress, upset and cost.

Your grief is so recent, take some time to heal and think x

Kloenina Thu 12-Sep-13 13:03:44

Thank you very much for your replies, I really needed some neutral opinions. When my DD was born they have done scans on her they have noticed that she had 2 holes in her heart she had many cyst on her kidneys, her lungs were not developed.
I have contacted Sands.

specialsubject Thu 12-Sep-13 17:21:35

I am so sorry and wish you healing and better times.

please don't sue. There is nothing anyone could have done and the loss of your daughter is no-one's fault. Legal action for this just takes cash from the hospital which is better used for treatment.

RedHelenB Thu 12-Sep-13 17:41:06

Scans don't pick up everything unfortunately . I am sorry for your loss & hope you find support through SANDS.

eurochick Thu 12-Sep-13 17:48:50

I'm very sorry for this.

As a lawyer I would say that legal proceedings are often long and traumatic. You would need to relive what you went through many times, probably over several years. The hospital trust might settle with you, but if they don't, you would have to sit in court and hear everything raked over. At the end of it, settlement or a judgment can only give you money. Which is a suspect not what you really need. You need to grieve and deal with the loss. Some people use legal proceedings to get closure on an issue. I would really recommend finding another, less traumatic way, of achieving that.

I hope that SANDS is helpful.

ZingWantsCake Thu 12-Sep-13 17:49:11

so sorry for your loss! sad thanks

you must be devastated, but I don't advise you to sue.

I don't know what your baby had or what the hospital could have done.
many problems are not possible to pick up on a scan.

had you discovered a serious problem and decided to terminate you'd still be in agony over loosing your child - only in a different set up.

sadly nothing will your precious child back but I think you need to mourn and look after yourself instead of entering a long legal battle that would achieve .... what exactly?

there are some organisations that can help you with dealing with your loss. I wish you strength.

wannaBe Thu 12-Sep-13 17:58:07

I am so sorry for your loss.

It is normal to want to blame someone in such times, but reality is that even if your daughter's condition had been picked up on scans (assuming that would even have been possible at a twenty week scan) it wouldn't have altered the outcome, your daughter would still have had a condition incompatible with life, and sadly she would still have died, albeit you may have had the option to terminate the pregnancy earlier rather than having to carry your baby to term.

Knowing would have meant you being faced with the painful decision as to whether to terminate your pregnancy
and still going through the grief process albeit at an earlier stage.

no-one is to blame.

cestlavielife Fri 13-Sep-13 14:32:03

sorry for your loss.
ultrasound is not infallible - it both picks up probloems which are not a big deal and can fail to pick up problems which are (my son had dodgy scans in utero but follow ups were oh everything is fine...in fact he has a microdeletion chromosome condition but it would not have been picked up on an amnio anyway as requries more detailed testing) .

it would not have changed the outcome as her genetics were there all along, just not so visble at 20 weeks.

kowing now what her problem was, you will be in a postiion to make informed choices on testing for any future pregnancies. get bereavement and genetic counselling, then later on in a few months if you still want to pursue a claim you could consider it - tho it may not be worth the stress.

Kloenina Fri 13-Sep-13 16:15:09

Please don't tell me that the scans can not pick up chromosomal abnormalities, why are we doing this scans anyway. they are done to see if there might be something wrong with the baby, Otherwise why are we doing the scans just to se if it is a boy or a girl ???

CaffeineDeficit Fri 13-Sep-13 16:20:17

My understanding is that scans can only pick up certain major problems and that, as others have described above, even then they're not perfect. Scans can't tell you anything about a baby's genetic make up. The only test that can provide information about that is amniocentesis or CVS.

CaffeineDeficit Fri 13-Sep-13 16:20:57

Sorry, phone posted before I'd finished...

Just wanted to say that I'm hugely sorry to hear about your loss and my heart goes out to you and your family

exexpat Fri 13-Sep-13 17:04:48

Scans can pick up some things but not others - they can sometimes spot serious heart/kidney defects, they can monitor overall growth etc - but often they can't tell for sure even what gender a baby is (I had multiple scans during my second pregnancy, but DD's gender was still a surprise at her birth - she was always in the wrong position to see).

exexpat Fri 13-Sep-13 17:10:59

This Babycenter page gives a pretty good explanation of how ultrasound can sometimes find 'markers' of chromosomal abnormalities, but can't definitely diagnose them: "however many markers or abnormalities are seen on scan, a diagnosis can only be made by CVS or amniocentesis. This is because the only way of knowing if a baby's chromosomes are normal is to examine them: to do this, some of the baby's cells must be obtained."

Were you offered amniocentesis or CVS?

Catnap26 Fri 13-Sep-13 17:11:01

I'm afraid I don't have any advice but I just wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss x

NomDeClavier Fri 13-Sep-13 17:27:24

I'm so sorry you've gone through this.

Scans aren't perfect, and genetic conditions can't always be picked up. The results of scans totally depend on the clarity achieved which is influenced by more factors than just the sonographer's skill. Equally things which wouldn't have been visible on a 20 week scan may have been picked up later but there isn't a routine scan at that point.

There are endless questions you probably need answers to but I don't think legal action will get you those. I do think you need to think carefully about what you would want to achieve via legal action and whether you can get the same result another way.

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