When Doctors Make Mistakes: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself and Your Baby Skip to main content
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When Doctors Make Mistakes: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself and Your Baby

Pregnancy is a wild journey – and expectant mothers should be able to trust their healthcare providers to guide them safely through this transformative experience. However, sometimes mistakes happen and understanding what to do in such situations is crucial for ensuring the well-being of both the baby and the mother.

The annual report and accounts for 2022/23 from the NHS have shown that once more, with 64% and thus by far the highest, obstetrics is the most claimed medical speciality. "Avoidable errors in maternity services still occur and those incidents have devastating consequences for the child, mother and wider family, as well as the NHS staff involved", the NHS says - putting a continued emphasis on improving maternity care. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself and your baby if you suspect that a mistake has been made by your doctor before, during, or after childbirth.

1. Know the Signs

This might sound obvious, but it’s essential to be aware of potential signs of medical mistakes during pregnancy. These can include misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses, errors during childbirth, medical errors, and inadequate prenatal care. When it comes to this, always trust your instincts; if something feels wrong or you’re unsure about the care you’re receiving, don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion.

2. Regular Prenatal Care

Attending regular prenatal check-ups is vital for monitoring the health of both of you – the mother and the baby. Establishing a good relationship with your healthcare provider allows for open communication and ensures that any concerns can be addressed promptly. Usually, you’ll be invited to those check-ups automatically – make sure you are!

3. Seek Support

If you suspect that a mistake has been made, don’t hesitate to seek support from loved ones and other trusted healthcare professionals. Discuss your concerns openly with your midwife or GP – even if you think they might sound silly to them! – who can provide guidance and support you through the process. And if you believe that you’ve already been a victim of medical negligence at this point, you may have legal options available to you, too. Consulting with a solicitor who specialises in medical negligence can help you understand your rights and pursue compensation If necessary.

4. Document Everything

Keep detailed records of your prenatal and postnatal care, including appointments, test results, and any communication with healthcare providers. Documentation can be valuable if you need to pursue a complaint or legal action in the future – which you can do up to three years after the neglect has happened. And the stronger your proof, the better.

5. Patient Advocacy and Emotional Support

Patient advocacy groups can offer valuable support and resources for parents navigating medical negligence issues. They can provide information, advice, and advocacy services to help you understand your rights and options. As the legal system can be scary for most of us – they are a fantastic bridge.

However, know that dealing with the aftermath of a medical mistake can be emotionally incredibly challenging. Seek support from mental health professionals or support groups specialising in pregnancy-related issues, to help you cope with any feelings of distress or anxiety.

6. Moving Forward

And while confronting medical negligence is undoubtedly difficult, try to use the experience as an opportunity for learning and growth. Your insights may help prevent similar mistakes from happening to you or others in the future. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure the best possible outcome for both you as a parent and the baby.