Hospital apologizes to devastated couple after 'neglectful behavior' led to stillbirth of baby daughter

Hospital apologizes to devastated couple after 'neglectful behavior' led to stillbirth of baby daughter
Amy and Jamie Harrison lost their baby daughter as the hospital neglected the mother after inducing labor (Amy Harrison/Facebook)

OLDHAM, UNITED KINGDOM: A hospital has acknowledged a series of mistakes that caused a newborn girl to die after her mother was "neglected" for hours while in labor. After a healthy pregnancy, Amy Harrison, 30, and her husband Jamie were anticipating the arrival of their daughter Harper in May 2020. But when their child was stillborn at The Royal Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester, the parents were distraught.

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The hospital's operator Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust has now acknowledged a number of mistakes made by medical employees regarding the care provided to Harrison and her child. According to the trust, if "proper monitoring" had been done, the discoveries would have caused Harper to be delivered alive and earlier than expected. Harrison said that after being induced, she was left alone in a hospital side room "all night" without being checked up on by a doctor or midwife. She claimed that she was days late. The trust's own inquiry found that Harper could have been saved if her lack of movement hadn't been overlooked.

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Amy Harrison and her husband. (Photo via Amy Harrison/Getty Images)
Amy Harrison and her husband Jamie (Amy Harrison/Facebook)

According to the Daily Mail, Harrison claimed that she felt well for the majority of her pregnancy and expected to give delivery naturally with Jamie by her side. However, when the Covid outbreak spread across the nation, the situation drastically altered. By May 2020, when Harrison was scheduled to give birth to her child, NHS hospital social distancing policies did not allow her to be accompanied. ''I'd got to almost 42 weeks - 41 weeks and five days - and I'd had no signs at all. I was told to ring the hospital and book an induction. I was getting a bit worried that I was way too far overdue," Harrison said. 

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The couple at the time resided in Bury, but because Harrison, her brother, and the children of her friends were all born at The Royal Oldham Hospital, they made the decision to have their own kid there because they felt it was a secure environment. But "from the moment" Harrison called to book in for her induction, she felt "let down" and "left alone". "Stillbirth doesn't even cross your mind. I think as a woman you're made to feel that going to have a baby is totally normal. It's actually petrifying when it's your first baby, and I don't feel like I had any reassurance. Because of Covid, you just had to be dropped off at the door and go up to the antenatal ward on your own," Harrison narrated. 

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Harrison reported that for hours following the commencement of the induction procedure on May 18, "nothing was occurring" until she began to experience contractions. She was then given a painkiller, and the contractions stopped.

The next day, Harrison was 41 weeks and 6 days past due and was "more and more anxious about decreasing motions" of her child. She requested that the movements be watched, but was informed that she had just undergone checks two hours before. "The staff failed to monitor me as they should have done, my contractions were getting more and more intense. I was getting quite emotional because I was on my own and in a lot of pain. A staff member said they would move me and put me in a room on my own - looking back, I think that was the big turning point," Harrison recollected. 

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''I found out later, they didn't update my notes properly, it looked like I was a day less overdue,'' she then revealed, adding, "The mistake meant she was never moved to a labor ward for progression." Overnight, she didn't get much sleep as she was getting contractions "every couple of minutes". She also continued, "A midwife hadn't come in all night. I came out in the night to ask for paracetamol and went back in the room. That was the only interaction I had all night."

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The personnel on the ward was changed on May 20. When Harrison was eventually seen, she questioned why she was experiencing contractions but less motions from the infant. When had she last been checked, a specialist questioned.

"I told the midwife: 'I've been in this room since 11 pm last night, no one has been in.' Her face dropped. I could tell that wasn't normal. It took the midwife so long and she was moving the monitor around for ages. A more senior midwife came to check, then a sonographer. He was the one who told me," she recollects, ''I couldn't go through the process of giving birth to her naturally. I wanted to have a C-section. I was told 'most women in your situation do this naturally', I didn't care what other people did. The whole process was a nightmare.''

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The couple, who now reside in Norden, Rochdale, were able to spend time with baby Harper at that stage, and they praised the staff for their 'wonderful' assistance, adding that despite this, "the lack of care" is still a problem. The couple filed a lawsuit against the hospital for the shortcomings in their care in the months that followed their tragic loss. In addition to an inquiry by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, an internal hospital investigation was also started, according to the devastated mother.

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Failures acknowledged by Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust include the following:
1. Harrison ought to have been sent to the labor ward.
2. The staff mistranscribed her medical notes.
3. Due to pressure and limited personnel during Harrison's labor, the hospital did not adequately communicate.
4. Staff neglected to keep track of her and her infant's health.
5. Failure to appropriately "watch Mrs Harrison and the foetal welfare," including the baby's heart rate throughout labor, led to several missed physical examinations. 
6. The hospital also discovered a "culture of acceptance of delays."

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In a letter of response, the trust said, ''But for the alleged negligence, [Mrs Harrison] would have been transferred to the labor ward... ARM [artificial rupture of the membranes to induce labor] and/or continuous monitoring would have taken place. Harper would have been born alive. On balance of probabilities, had appropriate monitoring of the fetal condition been carried out, CTG abnormalities would have been seen in the period leading up to the fetal demise. This would have led to earlier delivery, with Harper being born alive."

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