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Retained Placenta Medical Negligence Compensation Guide – Placenta left in after birth negligence claims

By Daniel Archer. Last Updated 29th July 2022. This is our updated guide to retained placenta medical negligence compensation claims. In this guide we look at placenta left in after birth negligence claims and how to claim compensation.

A retained placenta can be a serious and potentially even life-threatening condition, due to associated haemorrhaging (serious blood loss). In most births, the placenta and the associated membranes will be delivered just after the baby. The placenta will usually be delivered or removed between five and thirty minutes after the birth of the baby. If it is not, there is a potential risk of the mother suffering haemorrhaging. However, there are instances where the full placenta or all of the membranes are not delivered and some tissue is retained in the uterus.

placenta left in after birth

Retained placenta medical negligence

Whilst the condition could arise even if medical staff are carrying out their duties correctly, there is the potential for a retained placenta and haemorrhaging taking place because a doctor, nurse or midwife has made an error. They may have failed to spot retained placenta symptoms or not acted with due care and attention.

Failing to diagnose a retained placenta could be life-threatening and medical staff could be held accountable for negligence. In such cases, you could be able to make a birth negligence compensation claim against the responsible party.

You can find out more about both retained placenta medical negligence compensation and how a personal injury solicitor may be able to help you in the guide below.

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A Guide To Retained Placenta Medical Negligence Claims

Compensation claims for medical negligence which leads to a retained placenta are a type of birth injury negligence claim. Such personal injury claims could be brought against either the NHS or against private medical providers.

After the birth of a baby, the placenta also must be fully delivered. This happens during the ‘third stage of labour’ where the afterbirth comes out. After delivering the child you may not notice the placenta and afterbirth being delivered, though one in fifty women will require an assisted placenta delivery. Crucially, the medical staff present should notice whether this stage of labour has or has not happened. They should also note any retained placenta symptoms.

If the placenta is not delivered soon after the birth of the child there may be the need for surgical intervention. The midwife is responsible for ensuring the complete delivery of the afterbirth. They must identify whether the placenta and membranes have been fully delivered or are ragged. They may recommend retained placenta surgery if necessary.

The responsibilities of midwives are set by the Nursing and Midwives Council. You can download their standards guide.

If either a midwife fails to identify the retention of placental tissue or surgery negligence occurs there may be grounds to make a retained placenta medical negligence compensation claim.

Birth Medical Negligence – Can A Retained Placenta Cause Problems?

A retained placenta is when either part or all of the placenta stays in the womb after the baby is born. If any part of the placenta is left inside, this can lead to health complications for the mother if left untreated. According to the NHS guide placenta complications, the retained placenta may cause bleeding. In extreme cases, it could be fatal.

Certain treatments or changes in position can help the womb contract and expel the retained placenta. The act of breastfeeding soon after the birth can also have the same effect. In some circumstances, an operation may be required.

If you suspect you have retained placenta following birth, you should seek the help of a medical professional as soon as possible.

Delivery Injuries Other Than Placenta Left In After Birth

There are other forms of injury that can occur during delivery. Claims for placenta left in after birth are not isolated in this respect.

Below is a graph based on NHS Maternity statistics. It displays forms of delivery complications that can occur and their frequency during the period 2019-20. The graph shows the top five most prevalent delivery complications during the covered time period and how frequent they were as a percentage.

Delivery complication statistitcs

Delivery complication statistitcs

As shown above, the most common delivery complication was perineal lacerations. This was an issue in 41% of all delivery complications reported during 2019-20. The second most common complication was fetal stress (distress), which was reported in 26% of cases. That is closely followed by maternal care for other known or suspected fetal problems (23%), postpartum hemorrhage (22%) and other maternal diseases classifiable elsewhere (21%).

These are not all strictly examples of medical negligence claims. Many injuries can occur during childbirth and they may happen through no fault of the medical team. If you’re unsure as to whether your childbirth injury could be classified as medical negligence, get in touch with our advisors today. We’re here to answer all of your questions.

What Does The Placenta Do?

The placenta is an organ that is attached to the womb lining and babies umbilical cord during pregnancy. It separates the babies and mother’s blood supply whilst also linking the baby and mother. The placenta will also carry out functions which the baby can not carry out itself.

The placenta passes nutrients and oxygen from the mother to the baby’s blood supply through the umbilical cord. It then also transports waste products from the baby to the mother to be disposed of. The placenta also produces different hormones allowing the baby to develop and grow. It also protects the baby from infection and bacteria (though not from viruses) by passing on antibodies from the mother. This provides immunity from the babies for the first three months. The placenta does not protect the fetus/baby from drugs, nicotine and alcohol.

What Causes A Retained Placenta?

There are three main causes or reasons why a placenta left in after birth incident may happen. These are;

  • The womb either does not contract enough to separate the placenta from the womb wall or stops contracting, leaving the placenta in the uterus after delivery.
  • The placenta does detach from the womb but is trapped by the cervix.
  • The placenta embeds itself into the womb. This is more likely to happen in cases of a retained placenta after a C-section from a previous pregnancy. In such cases, the placenta could grow through the womb wall.

Such instances are more likely to occur in cases where a baby is born prematurely. They can also happen in instances of a retained placenta after abortion and a retained placenta after miscarriage.

Can retained placenta pass naturally? It is possible that a retained placenta could be passed naturally. However, your midwife will determine the most appropriate course of action. If the medical staff failed to act, you may be able to make a retained placenta medical negligence compensation claim.

Which Groups Are More At Risk Of Retained Placentas?

Who may need to make placenta left in after birth negligence claims? Along with there being various reasons for a retained placenta occurring, there are certain groups that may have a higher risk of suffering from a retained placenta.

Groups identified as being a (potentially) higher risk include;

  • Women over thirty years old.
  • Those giving birth before the 34th week of their pregnancy and other premature births.
  • Those whose labour lasted longer in the first or second stage.
  • Cases of stillbirths.

If you are a mother who has been harmed during the birth of your child because of negligent medical care, you could claim compensation.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Retained Placenta?

The first and most obvious retained placenta symptom is when the placenta itself hasn’t been passed after the birth of the baby. Symptoms are not always this easy to spot, especially if it is part of the placenta which has not been delivered, with some membranes or placental tissue remaining in the womb. In some cases, this may not be spotted. If this is the case the mother could suffer either from heavy bleeding or an infection from the retained placenta.

After giving birth it is quite common for the mother to feel cramping, experience bleeding or be in some level of discomfort. If you notice these symptoms following your pregnancy, contact a doctor or midwife.

  • Constant pain.
  • Fever/high temperature.
  • Passing large pieces of placental tissue.
  • Heavier than expected bleeding. Whilst some bleeding is expected, if you are concerned about the rate or volume please consult your doctor or midwife.
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge.

If you are experiencing these symptoms you may need to be checked by a medical professional to see if you have a missed retained placenta. If you are experiencing any unexpected symptoms following the delivery of your baby we do recommend that you consult an appropriate medical professional.

Find out what you can expect straight after giving birth in this NHS guide. If affected in these ways, you could make a retained placenta medical negligence compensation claim.

Diagnosing A Retained Placenta

How are the effects of placenta left in after birth negligence claims diagnosed? If the placenta is not delivered within certain timeframes, you could be diagnosed with having a retained placenta. Timeframes include:

  • Natural (or physiological) management of the third stage of labour: 1 hour.
  • Active management of the third stage of labour: 3 minutes.

If you initially were unsuccessful in trying natural management, your midwife may move you on to active management to pass the placenta. At this point, if active management also does not work, you may need to have a manual removal.

When delivered, your doctor or midwife can examine the placenta to check if it is intact. Your doctor should be able to determine if even a small portion of the placenta is missing from what has been delivered. Though this can sometimes be difficult to spot and could cause the person to experience negative symptoms.

If your doctor or midwife thinks that there may be tissues left in your womb they may carry out an investigation, such as performing an ultrasound. They will then recommend the appropriate course of action.

Examples Of The Main Types Of Retained Placentas

There are three main kinds of retained placenta afterbirths, all of which could lead to a mother being harmed if they are not treated appropriately and swiftly.

Placenta Accreta

Placenta accreta is a more common type of retained placenta following a C-section. In this case, the placenta will attach itself to either the muscles which like the wall of the uterus or to scar tissue. A medical professional can detect whether this is the case in the second or third stage (trimester) of your pregnancy. Treatment is available in such cases and you may be recommended to delivery by caesarean section.

Placenta Adherens

In this case the uterus does not sufficiently contract in order to fully separate the uterus and placenta. This may mean that the placenta only manages to separate partially from the uterus. The midwife who is carrying for your during your delivery should be able to spot whether contractions are too weak to detach the placenta. They may then recommend either medication to be used to help you deliver the placenta or alternatively, in serious instances, suggest retained placenta surgery.

Trapped Placenta

This could occur where a placenta which is detached from the uterus is not delivered or passed out. The placenta becomes trapped behind a cervix which begins to close before the passing of the placenta.

Find further information about the manual removal of a retained placenta in this NHS PDF guide. Contact our team about making retained placenta medical negligence compensation claims.

Treatment Options For Retained Placentas

If you have experienced a retained placenta or membranes left inside you, you wonder what treatment options are available and how to remove a retained placenta. Treatment will mean the entirety of the tissue left must be removed.

There are different treatment options that are open to your doctor or midwife. The medical team treating you should choose the most appropriate treatment for you. In the event that they have not done so and you are harmed as a result, the retained placenta could be the doctor’s fault.

Treatment

  • The removal of the placenta by hand. In such cases, there is an increased risk of infection from the retained placenta treatment.
  • Medication may be used to contract or relax the uterus and help the retained placenta to pass as naturally as possible.
  • Medical staff may recommend the mother tries breastfeeding. This could help the body to release hormones that affect the uterus.

You may also find that passing the placenta is as simple as urinating. This can relieve pressure on the bladder which could have prevented the placenta from passing.

If these treatment options fail to work, you may need emergency surgery to remove all tissues as necessary. Providing there is still placental tissues left in the uterus and you experience harm because of this, the surgeon could be at fault and you could make a claim for surgery negligence.

If the doctor or midwife in charge of your treatment has failed to recommend appropriate treatment and you were harmed as a result, then legal action may follow. You could be eligible to make a placenta left in after birth claim.

Complications And Prognosis

It is important that the placenta is delivered after the birth of a baby. It allows the uterus to properly contract and stops further bleeding. When a placenta is retained, there could continue to be bleeding from blood vessels attached to the organ. The uterus also can not properly contract and prevent the loss of blood. This is why in some cases a retained placenta could be life-threatening.

What If Some Placenta Tissue Is Left?

It is possible for midwives or doctors to have properly carried out their job to the required standards and for placenta tissue to be left. This may be termed a missed retained placenta. In such cases, the tissue may pass naturally as a large blood clot. If you experience this it is a good idea to consult with your midwife. If some tissue is still found to be retained you may need to undergo another medical procedure called an ERPC (evacuation of retained products conception).

Further Complications

The main complication which could result from this is haemorrhaging and excessive bleeding. In the most serious of cases, the mother may require a blood transfusion. Alternatively, emergency treatment may be carried out to stop the bleeding. If you experience further complications, you could make a retained placenta medical negligence compensation claim.

Future Prognosis

It is quite rare for such conditions to take place and for instances of retained placenta medical negligence to occur. In general, the condition can be treated fully and properly. The quicker that treatment could be started, the better the potential outcome and future prognosis.

If you are in an at-risk group or have previously suffered a retained placenta, you could discuss your potential options with your doctor or midwife. This will allow you and them to take any necessary steps towards retained placenta management.

Preventing Retained Placentas

If you have experienced this condition once, there is an increased risk of suffering it again in your next pregnancy after a retained placenta. If you have had surgery on your womb, such as a caesarian section, there is also an increased risk of suffering it in future pregnancies. Having had an induced labour could also increase the chances of this happening in the future.

Having a natural third stage of delivery may reduce the chances of the placenta being retained in future labour. Other steps which have been shown to help reduce chances include uterine massage and oxytocin medication.

Could I Make A Retained Placenta Compensation Claim?

A personal injury solicitor or personal injury lawyer may be able to help you claim retained placenta compensation after birth if your placenta was not removed fully or in the right time frame and if you were hurt because of this. It does not matter whether you experienced harm at a private hospital or were victim to NHS negligence.

Conditions such as placenta accreta could be diagnosed during ultrasound scans earlier in the pregnancy during the second or third trimester. Failures in the diagnosis at these earlier stages or the failure to put a proper treatment plan in place could cause your health to decline while your baby is being delivered. In such instances, you could be able to arrange a retained placenta compensation claim.

Retained Placenta Medical Negligence Compensation Calculator

If you have been harmed by medical negligence in the treatment of a retained placenta or whilst giving birth, you can use this illustrative personal injury claims calculator to start to see how much you may be able to claim in compensation. When calculating compensation for claims such as this, there are often two figures to consider. These are known as general damage and special damages. General damages are awarded to the claimant to account for any physical pain and mental suffering caused by the claimant’s injuries.

The figure is calculated by consulting a publication known as the Judicial College Guidelines. They are updated on a semi-regular basis. The JCG features an extensive list of injuries and payments made for those injuries in previous cases. The figure can be influenced by factors such as the time it takes them to recover, and how severe the injury/injuries are.

Below, we’ve included a graph that includes some figures from the current JCG.

Reason for compensationSeveritySettlement amounts with uplift.Comments on injury
Psychiatric injuriesSevere£51,460 to £108,620The mother may experience serious problems coping with things such as work or education. They may be left more vulnerable in the future.
Psychiatric injuriesModerately severe£17,900 to £51,460Most claimants may fall towards the middle of this bracket. Symptoms and effects are lesser than above.
Psychiatric injuriesModerate£5,500 to £17,900Whilst they may experience similar problems, such issues will be less severe and the patient will face a much better prognosis.
Psychiatric injuriesLess severeUp to £5,500How much is awarded will be affected by how much of an effect the injuries have had on the patient.
PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress DisorderSevere£56,180 to £94,470The claimant may experience a permanent problem with being able to work or carry out other daily tasks.
PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress DisorderModerately Severe£21,730 to £56,180Where symptoms are still more severe than below categories, but with a better prognosis than above.
PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress DisorderModerate£7,680 to £21,730The claimant will either have recovered largely, or is expected to do so. If there are any continuing symptoms these should not be great.
PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress DisorderLess severeUp to £7,680An almost complete recovery should be made in less than two years. Though there may be some small symptoms lasting beyond this.
Reproductive System: Female(a)£107,810 to £158,970Where the women is left with infertility as a result of an injury or disease.
Reproductive System: Female(b)£31,950 to £95,850Infertility not covered in award band (a), such as that caused by an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy.
Reproductive System: Female(c)£16,860 to £34,480Infertility but with no further complications and where the claimant already has children.

Special damages are calculated in a different manner, and awarded for another reason. The special damages figure is paid to the claimant to account for any additional outgoings or costs that have taken place as a result of a claimant’s injuries. For example, you could experience a loss of earnings due to being forced to miss time off work. These lost wages could make up part of your special damages payment. Some other examples of things that can be reclaimed are medical costs, and travel costs.

It’s vital you have proof of these expenditures such as in receipt form or something similar. Without evidence, you could find it much more difficult to reclaim these costs.

To find out more about what else could be reclaimed through special damages, get in touch today.

Time Limit For Claims Regarding The Placenta Left In After Birth

Please note that when making a claim against a doctor, or any other medical practitioner, for a retained placenta you will need to bring your claim within the personal injury claims time limit. In most instances, this is three years but can vary. You can learn more about medical negligence claims in our guide. Learn more about retained placenta medical negligence compensation claims.

No Win No Fee Compensation Claims For Retained Placenta Medical Negligence

Whilst there are different ways in which you could fund a claim made with a medical negligence lawyer or other solicitors. One of the most popular ways of doing so is through a No Win No Fee agreement.

If you make a No Win No Fee claim you will not have to pay your solicitor upfront fees. You will also not be asked to make any ongoing payments for their day-to-day costs incurred in the pursuit of your claim. Instead, you will pay your solicitor their fee at the successful completion of the case. This is often deducted as an agreed-upon percentage of your settlement.

You could learn more about retained placenta medical negligence compensation claims by contacting our team.

Contact A Legal Expert

Legal Expert has an experienced team of medical negligence solicitors who are experienced in helping people to make different forms of birth negligence compensation claims. Our personal injury claims team could help you to claim compensation from a doctor, hospital or a midwife who is at fault for your retained placenta injuries.

If you feel that you were harmed due to the way in which you were treated by medical professionals during your pregnancy, childbirth or third stage labour you could be able to make a medical negligence claim.

Contact us on 0800 073 8804 and discuss your retained placenta medical negligence compensation claim with our specialist team. You could also send an email to our team at info@legalexpert.co.uk. Alternatively, you can see if you have a claim online by filling out the form on our website. If you’re able to make a No Win No Fee claim, you will be referred to one of our medical negligence solicitors. They will be able to provide you with further confidential help and advice and may be able to use a personal injury claims calculator to assess how much compensation you are owed.

Medical Resources And Claims Guides

In order to produce this article, we have used some of the reference materials below, as well as those which we have linked to in the article above. You can find out more about retained placenta from the NHS, and retained placenta management in these resources.

The Stages Of Labour And Birth

More information from the NHS.

Complications Affecting The Placenta
Further information from the NHS about different complications which could affect the placenta, such as retained placenta and haemorrhaging.

What Is A Litigation Friend?

Find out more about how to legally appoint someone you know to pursue a claim on your (or someone else’s behalf).

How much Compensation Can I Claim Against a Doctor or GP Negligence?

Read all about claiming for medical negligence.

Hospital Negligence Claims: How Much Compensation Can I Claim for Neglect?

Extra advice on claiming against hospitals for medical neglect.

How to Make a Misdiagnosis Claim 

What to do when a medical professional misdiagnoses you, and you suffered as a consequence.

Other Related FAQS

How do they remove retained placenta?

According to the NHS, the placenta can be manually removed if you’re under anaesthetic. And if, after 40 minutes after birth, it’s still not delivered, there is a risk of heavy bleeding.

Is retained placenta malpractice?

It could be seen as a consequence of medical negligence if you suffered and it could’ve been avoided. Speak to our advisors for free if you’re still unsure as to whether it was medical negligence and if you have a claim.   

Can I make a claim for retained placenta?

If you have suffered due to a retained placenta, caused by medical negligence, you could make a claim. You might want to seek out the advice of a personal injury solicitor or talk confidentially (and for free) to our friendly advisors.

How long can you have retained placenta?

If parts of the placenta or placental tissue remain in your womb for over 30 minutes after delivery of your child you may have a retained placenta.This could cause infections and even life-threatening degrees of blood loss.

How do you get rid of retained placenta?

In some cases surgical intervention may be necessary. However, before this doctors may try to remove the tissue by hand, through medications, by breastfeeding which can release hormones or through urination.

Can I prevent a retained placenta in my next pregnancy?

If you have suffered this type of birth injury there is a greater chance that you may do so again in future. There is not much you can do to prevent this happening. You can discuss options related to dealing with this with your doctor.

What is my outlook after having a retained placenta?

If you have had a retained placenta there is a greater chance that you could have this with a future pregnancy and delivery. If the condition is diagnosed and treated quickly, you should have a good outlook.

Birth injury claims and clinical negligence

There are a variety of other types of birth injury claims related to medical negligence which you could claim for. You could claim retained placenta medical negligence compensation among other types.

We hope our guide to placenta left in after birth negligence claims has helped you.

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