Newborn baby died due to delays to caesarian section, coroner concludes

Joanne and Jonathan Rawlings with James at the EACH Treehouse. Picture: JOANNE RAWLINGS

Joanne and Jonathan Rawlings with James at the EACH Treehouse. Picture: JOANNE RAWLINGS - Credit: Archant

A newborn baby died as a result of delays to his mother having an emergency C-section, a coroner has concluded.

A two-day inquest into the death of baby James Rawlings from Ipswich, who was just 18 days old when he died, was held at Suffolk Coroners Court this week.

The inquest heard Joanne Rawlings, 34, went to Ipswich Hospital’s maternity unit on April 27 last year, the date James was due, for an induced birth.

In the early hours of April 28, her waters broke and she began feeling ill and being sick.

However, despite midwife Anne Williams raising concerns with lead doctor Dr Lovelina Das over heart monitor readings, which showed James had a raised heartbeat, Mrs Rawlings was not given a caesarian section until 4am the next day.

On Monday the hospital admitted a ‘breach of duty’ in not operating sooner. Dr Das no longer works at the hospital.

When baby James was finally delivered he was not breathing so doctors began trying to resuscitate him. The inquest heard that James didn’t take his first breath for 45 minutes. The resuscitation had been delayed as James had a blocked airway.

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Dr Matthew James, paediatrician, said there had been another error made during the resuscitation, that James had been given the wrong dose of adrenaline as doctors desperately tried to revive him.

Following the inquest, Mrs Rawlings, who gave birth to son Joshua James eight weeks ago, said she wanted to look forward and build a new life.

She said: “The C-section, what happened, the fact I thought he had died there and then...That is something that will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

Coroner Dr Peter Dean concluded that had James been delivered sooner, he would not have died on May 16.

He said: “Baby James Rawling died from the combined effects of severe hypoxia and ischemia prior to, during and immediately after delivery together with significant sepsis resulting from vertical transmission from maternal chorioamnionitis occurring after prolonged rupture of the membranes.

“There was a failure to act on abnormal CTG (heart monitor) and maternal condition and to deliver James earlier as a result.

“The evidence shows that had James been delivered earlier he would not have died on May 16.”

Lynda Reynolds, associate in the clinical negligence team at law firm Hugh James, who is representing the family, said: “This incredibly sad situation could have been avoided had senior obstetricians taken proper action to deliver James.

“The registrar refused to listen to the concerns of both James’ parents and the midwives, which is totally unacceptable – a fact the hospital has recognised.”

She added: “It is extremely hard for families to fight for justice and get answers while they go through such a tragic time in their lives. This wasn’t helped in the Rawlings’ case by the fact that the lead obstetrician fled the country, leaving the family and the Trust to investigate without her.

“I am very pleased that this inquest has given the family the answers they needed, so they can get back to living their lives.”