Mother Receives Compensation for Burns Suffered During Caesarean

Mother Burned During Labour
BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam
Case by: BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam

A new mother has brought legal action against a hospital that treated her, after the lower part of her body was burnt during an emergency caesarean.

The claimant attended the hospital on 7th February 2020, in the first stages of labour. Due to a failure for the birth to progress, she was then taken to theatre and the baby was delivered by emergency caesarean. Prior to the surgery being carried out, she was given an epidural that numbed the lower part of her body, and so could not feel any pain or discomfort. After she returned to the post-natal ward, it was only when the epidural began to wear off that our client noticed pain in the lower part of her body. When she then showered and was able to check the source of the pain, she found that she had sustained three significant burns to the lower part of her body. She immediately realised that they must have been sustained during the caesarean section, because they were not there prior to her having the epidural. The client was discharged home soon after she had showered and did not have chance to tell the hospital staff about her burns.


Once she had returned home, our client felt increasing pain from the burned area, and struggled to remain seated whilst she was recovering from her labour and caesarean section. When a midwife attended her at home the following day, she reported the burns and was advised to contact her GP. She was advised to treat the burns with Savlon, but she continued to experience significant pain and discomfort from the burns for the following few weeks. She struggled to feed her baby when it involved having to sit for long periods of time and relied on the help of her husband and family members. In total, it took until around May 2020 for the burns to fully heal, and she was then advised by her GP that she would be left with scars.

It was deemed to be most likely that a diathermy pad or diathermy liquid was the cause of the client’s burns. Surgical diathermy involves the use of a high-frequency electric current to either create surgical incisions, or to cauterise small blood vessels in order to stop bleeding. It is a technique that induces localised tissue burning and damage, the zone of which is controlled by the frequency and power of the device. Burns from diathermy often arise from a fault grounding pad. Electrical shocks and burns are possible if the circuit is interrupted, or energy is concentrated in some way. If the pad’s electrolytic gel is dry, this can also cause a flesh burn. However, modern systems are equipped with sensors that should mean that injuries are less likely.

When considering this case, it was put forward that the standard of care given to our client was lacking in a number of ways. These included:

  • That there was a failure by theatre staff to ensure that our client was protected against apparatus or a substance that could cause serious burns to the skin.
  • That there was a failure to note the burns at theatre transfer
  • That there was a failure by clinical or nursing staff to note that the claimant had sustained a burn prior to her discharge from Hospital.

Due to these failures, our client suffered an avoidable four-month period of pain and was unable to care for her new-born baby in the way that she wished.

Read more on our clinical negligence solicitors page.

Our clinical negligence specialist Sophia Azam has handled the case throughout and provided an excellent quality of service to our client. Commenting on the handling of her case through TrustPilot, our client said: ‘Just want to thank Sophia Azam for her empathy and care when handling my claim. She has really fought for me as much as she could and kept me up to date as much as possible. Very happy with the way it has been handled. Thank you.’

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