Retained Placenta
BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam
Legally reviewed by: BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam

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. When women have suffered due to medical negligence in the aftermath of having a baby, then they made need help to seek the retained placenta compensation claim that will help 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.

Our medical negligence solicitors can help you understand your situation and help you throughout the legal process.

What is a Retained Placenta?

A retained placenta is a condition where all or part of the placenta remains 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 from when the baby is born.

Two different kinds of retained placenta 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 there is persistent bleeding, and a dangerous amount of blood is lost. In some cases, this may require a blood transfusion. Certain things increase the risk of having a retained placenta. These include:

  • Pregnancy in women over the age of 30
  • A long first and second stage of labour
  • A premature birth
  • Stillbirth

If it does occur, the treatment for a retained placenta can include several different methods, including;

  • Taking medications that can relax the womb or make it contract to expel the trapped placenta
  • Breastfeeding, 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 from 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 medical professionals 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. Other medical issues can be associated with birth and could lead to a medical negligence claim, such as birth-related injuries to the baby or a womb infection.

When Can a Medical Negligence Claim be Made?

If the baby was born via a vaginal delivery rather than a Caesarean section, then it can sometimes mean that it is difficult to detect if there is a small part 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 medical or clinical negligence claim. A chat with an experienced medical negligence 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 the 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 and most cases of retained placenta do result in viable negligence claims.

Read more about injury during birth claims

What is the process?

A retained placenta compensation claim 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
    For a retained placenta compensation 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 and the compensation amount will be calculated based on several different factors.

The increase in medical negligence claims that the NHS were already facing before the 2020 global pandemic is concerning as it may only have worsened. For women who have suffered birth-related injuries, to claim compensation could be a vital step. Claims for retained placenta are often successful, and our specialists can help you with your case.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much compensation for retained placenta?

The amount of compensation that you could claim for a retained placenta varies on a case-by-case basis. There are a number of factors that are taken into account when calculating the medical negligence compensation, and a legal professional can help you to put your case together.

What causes a retained placenta?

In severe cases, a retained placenta is commonly a cause of postpartum haemorrhage, but certain things increase the risk of having a retained placenta. These include:
- Pregnancy in women over the age of 30
- A long first and second stage of labour
- A premature birth
- Stillbirth

Can you sue for retained placenta UK?

If you have suffered from a retained placenta due to medical negligence, then you may be able to put together a case for a compensation claim.