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Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Hospital Admits Failings, Apologizes for Baby's Death

ROBelow is an article that recently appeared in a British newspaper. The story pretty much speaks for itself. A baby died unexpectedly, the hospital's review shows errors and mistakes, and then the hospital admitted their failings and apologized. The hospital appears to be extremely candid in their remarks -- very powerful example of transparency. Now, this event happened in a NHS hospital and, according to the news report, the family is pursuing a civil action against the hospital’s trust. Obviously, British healthcare is a little different than American healthcare...not sure how the British handle claims. If this event had happened in an American hospital, the hospital or their insurer could negotiate and settle with the family without going through civil litigation. After all, if you've determined fault and apologized, what is the point of a lawsuit? Just have some conversations, figure out what people need (financially and emotionally), and come to a reasonable agreement without the fighting. Perhaps the British can learn from how we are starting to handle claims with disclosure.

Hospital bosses admit that baby died after 'failings in care' at Royal Oldham Hospital

By Beth Abbit, Greater Manchester News, September 23, 2015

Baby Spencer Butler may have survived if doctors had carried out a Cesarian section at an earlier stage, an inquest has heard.

Medical and midwifery neglect was a 'major factor' in the death of a newborn baby who was delivered tragically late, an inquest has heard.

Baby Spencer Butler may have survived if doctors at Royal Oldham Hospital had carried out a Caesarian section at an earlier stage, coroner Lisa Hashmi said.

She found a causal link between errors and omissions made and the 'unprecedented level of activity' on the maternity unit when Natasha Butler was in labour.

Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has since revised its Induction of Labour Guidelines and apologised to the family for the failings in care.

Heywood Coroners' Court heard there was a 'gross failure' in care and a 'catalogue of errors' and missed opportunities had contributed to Spencer's death.

She said leadership on the unit was 'almost nonexistent' and added: "Apathy prevailed when it came to practical thinking."

Mrs Butler was admitted to the maternity unit on May 14 for induction of labour and was induced four times over three days. When her baby became unwell she was transferred to the labour ward for an emergency Caesarean.

Spencer died of acute intrauterine asphyxia just 33 minutes after his birth on May 17, 2014.

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Butler and husband Sean, from Oldham, said: "To come home without Spencer was heartbreaking and the hardest thing is knowing that his death could have been avoided. There was nothing wrong with him, he was a healthy baby and there isn't a day goes by that we don't get upset about that and wish he was still here.

"Nothing will ever bring Spencer back and we can't help but be angry about everything the hospital has put us through.

"We put our precious baby in the hands of the professionals, but looking back we don't feel that he ever stood a chance."

Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said an external review into a small number of maternity cases at the trust's hospitals was commissioned last year and the findings shared with the family.

Chief nurse Gill Harris said: "This is a terribly tragic case. Without question The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust let down Spencer and his parents, Natasha and Sean Butler, in aspects of the care provided. For this, we are truly sorry.

"We have apologised to Natasha and Sean for the failings in the care afforded to them and we wish to reiterate that apology today. Our staff will continue to support the family at this difficult time.

"It is important we ensure that we learn from their experiences and use this feedback and learning to help us achieve the highest standards of maternity care. As part of our maternity improvement plan across our two maternity units, we have learnt significant lessons from the detailed internal investigation we carried out."

Following Spencer's death his family has raised more than £5,000 in his name for the Make A Wish Foundation.

Jenny Urwin, a clinical negligence specialist at law firm Slater and Gordon, is representing the family in a civil action against Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

She said: "The facts of this case are truly harrowing. The Trust failed in its duty and an otherwise healthy baby's life was lost.

"This family is devastated, but determined that lessons are learned so that no one else suffers the same tragedy."