Obstetric accidents: the patient's perspective.
Vincent CA., Martin T., Ennis M.
Cases from the files of Action for Victims of Medical Accidents which had resulted in stillbirth, perinatal or neonatal death and long term mental or physical handicap were reviewed. In 41 cases there was both a detailed letter from the parents and an independent review by a senior obstetrician. The reviewer's main criticisms were of inadequate fetal heart monitoring, lack of involvement of senior staff and inadequate records. The fetal heart trace was missing in 7 cases and over half of the remaining 34 traces available were misinterpreted or not acted on. In 17 cases junior doctors failed to recognize fetal distress and managed a delivery that they did not have the experience to deal with. In a further 6 cases, senior staff were called but did not come. Records were criticized for being incomplete, illegible or missing. In a few cases unjustified alterations appeared to have been made. Women reported that on some occasions staff ignored their worries, were unsympathetic and gave too little information. Some parents also experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining a clear explanation of the nature and cause of their child's condition.