Compensation for Suffering from a Retained Placenta

Retained Placenta
LLB (Hons) Nimish Patel
Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) Nimish Patel In: Medical Negligence

When going through childbirth, it is reasonable to expect that medical professionals will be aware of every eventuality. Unfortunately, it is increasingly being discovered that some healthcare professionals are falling short in their duty. In 2019, a report was released by the British Medical Journal (bmj) that found that the cost that the NHS had to pay in medical defence had further risen and they had paid out £2.4bn in the previous year. When women have suffered due to medical negligence in the aftermath of having a baby, then they made need help to seek the compensation that they need to support them in their recovery. Understanding the legal process behind medical negligence can be invaluable in these situations, and failure to ensure complete removal of the placenta following both vaginal and caesarean section deliveries, is almost always negligence.

Retained Placenta

What is a retained placenta?

A retained placenta is a condition where all or part of the placenta remain in the womb during the third stage of labour. It is generally defined as having occurred when the placenta has not left the womb within 30 minutes of the baby having been born.

There are two different kinds of retained placenta that can occur, these being;

  • When the placenta fails to separate from the womb lining
  • When the placenta separates from the womb lining but is still retained within the womb

In severe cases, a retained placenta is commonly a cause of postpartum haemorrhage, both primary and secondary – this is where a significant and dangerous amount of blood is lost.

The treatment for a retained placenta can include a number of different methods, including;

  • Taking medications that are able to relax the womb or to make it contract to expel the placenta
  • Breast feeding, which causes the body to release hormones that make the womb contract
  • A doctor may encourage the patient to urinate, because a full bladder can sometimes prevent the placenta being delivered
  • A doctor may be able to remove the placenta by hand, but this does carry an increased risk of infection

If none of these treatments have helped the body to expel the placenta, then a doctor may need to perform emergency surgery to remove the placenta or any remaining pieces. Because all surgery comes with the risk of complications, this procedure is often done as a last resort.

When can a medical negligence claim be made?

If the baby was born via a vaginal delivery, then it can sometimes mean that it is difficult to detect if there are small parts of the placenta left behind in the womb. However, if the patient suffered an overall traumatic birthing process due to the negligence of medical professionals, then they may be able to make a claim. A chat with an experienced solicitor will make things clearer for all those involved.

If the baby was born via Caesarean Section, then the doctors carrying out the procedure should always carefully inspect the inside of the womb. If placenta has been retained after a C-section, then there are often strong grounds for making a claim. Once again, specialists will always be able to give the best advice in situations like this.

Read more about injury during birth claims

What is the process?

A claim for retained placenta falls under the legal bracket of medical negligence. This means that any experience will be judged by what is known as the ‘four D’s of medical (or clinical) malpractice). They are:

  • Duty

This refers to the duty of care that all doctors legally owe their patients, and that they agree to when they first qualify as a doctor.

  • Derelict

Dereliction is the official term for when a medical professional is deemed to have broken this duty of care towards the patient that they are treating

  • Direct Cause

In order for a retained placenta claim to be valid, it must be proved that it was the direct fault of a medical professional

  • Damages

The damages that the victim could be entitled to will be calculated based on a number of different factors.

The increase in medical negligence claims that the NHS were already facing prior to the 2020 global pandemic is concerning as it may only have worsened. For women who have suffered during childbirth, compensation could be more vital than ever.

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