Delivery delay led to death of baby at hospital, inquest hears


The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn - Credit: QEH

"Regular medical oversights" led to the death of a baby just over two months after he was born at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, an inquest has heard. 

Louie Muncaster died on the Rudham Ward on August 26, 2019 after he was born on June 13. His twin sister had been born at 6.15am before Louie was born just after 6.30am.

The medical cause of death was stated as bronchopneumonia as a result of newborn brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation and limited blood flow. 

Wednesday's inquest heard delivery from the breech position took around 23 minutes when it should have been seven minutes. 

The hospital acknowledged there were errors when monitoring the heart-rate of the baby with the inquest hearing there was no heartbeat for around five minutes after Louie's birth.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, where staff could soon be given home testing kits for Covid-19 - Credit: Ian Burt

As a result, the baby suffered severe brain injury known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and lost "considerable weight" by June 27.

He was transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after a few hours to "mitigate the effects", but this did not have an influence. 

The inquest heard the baby was left unable to swallow, had no gag reflex and required regular suctioning, as well as a feeding tube. 

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A statement from Kennedys Law, solicitors for the hospital trust, which was read out in court, said: "We very much regret the care Louie and Ms Smith [mother] received and we would like to apologise for the distress caused." 

It added that the brain injury was caused by a "period of acute deprivation" where Louie's heart-rate dropped and was not monitored sufficiently.

The inquest heard Ms Smith had been experiencing pain in her ribs and swelling in her legs in early June, which was investigated and found to be common to pregnancy. 

Before giving a narrative conclusion, Yvonne Blake, area coroner for Norfolk, said: "The death was not managed as appropriately as it could have been and it appears to be brain damage. 

"It was noted the baby was in distress and there was a mistake in monitoring the heart-rate. I do not think natural causes is appropriate as a conclusion."