Coroner highlights 'gross failure' in baby death case

A hospital made a "gross failure" in the treatment of a pregnant woman who had a miscarriage shortly after being sent home by staff, a coroner has said.

An inquest in Southend heard how Alison Davis, 33, had gone into hospital with a bleed but went into labour at home soon after leaving.

Bethany Davis was 35 minutes old when she died at Southend University Hospital on 12 December 2009.

The inquest heard the hospital had "not adhered" to its own protocols.

Southend Coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded a narrative verdict that Bethany died of "prematurity".

He said Southend University Hospital NHS Trust had made a "gross failure" in not carrying out an examination which would have shown whether the miscarriage was merely a possibility or was "inevitable".

'Deeply sorry'

Dr Dean said although Bethany would probably have died of prematurity even had her mother been kept in hospital, the circumstances surrounding the birth could have been very different.

The inquest was told how Mrs Davis, of Wallace Close in Hullbridge, was 22 weeks pregnant when she went into hospital in pain, and with a bleed.

After she was examined, she was told she could go home.

But a short while later, Mrs Davis gave birth to Bethany in what the coroner described as "traumatic" circumstances.

During the hearing, Glen Davis, Bethany's father, said: "We were under the false hope that everything was going to be okay."

Elizabeth Mulvaney, from the hospital, said: "She should have been kept in for observation. She would have been in hospital when this happened, which would have made a great deal of difference."

One of the reasons she was allowed home was that one of the doctors she was seen by had only been at the hospital for 10 days and was unfamiliar with its protocols.

Ms Mulvaney said improvements had been made in response to Bethany's death which include getting midwives involved when doctors are with patients to ensure there was a "check and challenge" culture.

"We are deeply sorry about the tragic loss of Bethany," she said.

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