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First-time mum suffers sepsis when a vaginal swab is left behind

Amy Berry Case Study

First-time mum suffers sepsis when a vaginal swab is left behind following emergency C-section

September 1, 2021

A first-time mum thought she was going to die just days after giving birth when she was discharged from hospital with an infected swab inside her.

28-year-old Amy Berry had an incredibly difficult and traumatic labour at Royal Bolton Hospital, which also left her baby with permanent facial scarring.

Her birth was so traumatic that she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and still receives counselling for what she went through nearly two years on.

A traumatic labour

Amy went into labour in January 2018 after being induced due to the baby’s reduced movement. The labour was well established, but the baby was not descending and after two hours of pushing, a decision was made to use forceps. No examination of the baby took place prior to the forceps being applied.

After two applications, which involved two to three pulls each time, the baby still was not descending. After the second application, it became apparent that one of the forcep blades had become lodged on the baby’s face. A number of doctors were now in the room trying to remove the blade, which caused Amy great distress.

After some force was applied, the blade eventually became unstuck and Amy was rushed for an emergency Category 1 C-Section and the baby was born with severe bruising injuries to her face.

Trust in medical experts

Just one day later, despite such a traumatic birth, Amy was discharged. She also showed signs of a pelvic infection and wasn’t prescribed any antibiotics.

Amy said: “It felt like I had been through two labours; the one where they tried to get her out with the forceps and then another in theatre for the C-section. And after going through all that, they sent me home 24 hours later. I asked if I was well enough to go home and they said I was. I put my trust in the medical experts; we’re led to believe that they’re the ones who know what they’re doing, so I believed them and went home.”

A shocking discovery

Amy soon became dreadfully ill with flu-like symptoms. Twelve days later she passed a swab vaginally, which showed signs of infection.
She immediately went back to the hospital and was told that she had suffered from a pelvic abscess, and scans revealed she had a hole in her uterus.

Amy added: “They had left the swab inside me at some point during the surgery and it was only luck that it created a hole big enough for it to pass through. If it had stayed inside me for much longer, it could have killed me.”

Fear for the worst

Amy was then closely monitored as her sepsis infection mark was at triple figures and her family was told to expect the worst.
“I thought I was going to die and the not knowing what was happening was awful,” she continued.

“Not being in control was terrifying but I could tell that they didn’t know what to do with me either as I was so poorly. You trust the doctors to know what to do but they didn’t.

“I should have been kept in hospital and monitored every four hours and if that had happened it could have been caught earlier. They did apologise and admit they shouldn’t have sent me home. I just feel like I can’t trust anyone in a medical position anymore.”
Amy was on antibiotics and morphine for two months. She is still in pain even now. Doctors have spoken to her about the possibility of a hysterectomy, as they are unsure if she would be able to carry another baby.

Fighting for justice

Not only did Amy suffer from medical negligence directly, her baby has also received a compensation payout from the Hospital Trust. This follows her face being left so badly bruised by the forceps, that she has permanent scarring to her face.

Amy was too unwell to consider legal advice in the first few months following the incident, but came to Fletchers later in the year.
She said: “Part of me thought it was just a never event, that maybe I was the only person that this has happened to, but it was just a horror show from start to finish and I needed them to acknowledge that they’d done this to me.

“While it fills me with dread to think of other women going through this, I would certainly urge them to get help. It’s taken two and a half years to get justice but it’s worth being persistent.” – Amy Berry

Admission of failure

Medical Negligence Solicitor at Fletchers, Amy Hughes, took on the case on Amy’s behalf.

The case against Royal Bolton Hospital listed the following failures:

1. Failure to identify the position of the baby prior to applying forceps
2. Failed to ensure all swabs were removed appropriately
3. Failed to provide Amy with antibiotics prior to discharge on 1st February 2018

It was alleged that, had the position of the baby been identified prior to the forceps applications, the forceps would never have been used and Amy would have been taken for a less urgent c-section in a much more calm and controlled manner.

In addition, it was alleged that the retained pelvic swab caused Amy to suffer from a pelvic abscess which has now potentially caused long term fertility issues and a condition of the uterus, known as Asherman’s syndrome.

The solicitor commented: “The treatment Amy received at Royal Bolton Hospital was nothing short of appalling. The series of events that occurred and the trauma she had to go through was completely avoidable and it caused a significant psychiatric injury to her. Amy wants to raise awareness now as she feels there is not just her that has had a bad experience at Royal Bolton Hospital.”

Amy received a six-figure compensation settlement from the Royal Bolton Hospital Trust and her daughter was awarded an additional sum for her facial injuries. This has been put into a trust fund to be available should she want cosmetic surgery to address the scarring when she is older.

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