Newborn died from 'excessive force' in forceps delivery, coroner rules

November 17, 2020 

A newborn boy died at a hospital in England from a brain hemorrhage during a botched forceps delivery which used an "excessive degree of force," a coroner ruled.

Frederick Joseph Terry, also known as Freddie, was delivered via C-section at a hospital in Essex in November 2019, but died after 40 minutes of unsuccessful resuscitation attempts, BBC News reported, citing the coroner's findings.

"The evidence showed that baby Freddie's very serious scalp and brain injuries were sustained during the failed forceps attempted delivery and, but for these, baby Freddie would have survived as a perfectly formed, healthy baby," coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray wrote in a report to prevent such fatalities in the future.

"In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken," Beasley-Murray wrote.

The newborn died from hypovolemic shock caused by scalp and brain injuries from birth trauma, Beasley-Murray found.

The report did not identify the hospital, but The Daily Mirror reported it was Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford. The hospital is operated by Mid and South Essex Foundation Trust.

Beasley-Murray also urged public health officials to allow inquests into babies who are delivered stillborn -- after she was forced by law to stop hearing evidence into his death because coroners are not able to investigate stillborn babies, The Independent reported.

"It would have been helpful for there to have been, during the course of the inquest, an exploration, in the course of evidence, of the treatment and care provided to baby Freddie and his parents at the time of delivery," the coroner's report continued.

"Currently there is no legislation to cover the holding of a coroner's inquest into a stillbirth."

Beasley-Murray made 11 troubling finds during the probe, including the "excessive" use of force in the application of the forceps and a lack of risk assessment prior to delivery.

"The injuries imply an excessive degree of force in the application of the forceps and traction," the report states.

Another hospital operated by the trust, Basildon University Hospital, was required to make "urgent improvements" earlier this year following inadequate care in its maternity ward, BBC News reported.

An administrator said that hospital officials were "deeply sorry for the failings" of the care provided to Freddie.

"We have been determined to learn from Frederick's death, and we have strengthened our practices, introduced enhanced staff training and embedded more robust guidelines to ensure that the quality of care at the Trust continues to improve," chief nursing officer Diane Sarkar told BBC News in a statement.

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