At Davies and Partners Solicitors we are regularly asked to investigate claims involving postpartum haemorrhage (PPH). These sometimes result in maternal death and are, on occasion, avoidable with the appropriate medical care.

PPH is defined as bleeding from the vagina after the delivery of a child from a pregnancy. The bleeding usually occurs within 24 hours of delivery, but can occur at any time until 12 weeks after delivery. The amount of blood lost is recorded as minor (less than 1 litre), moderate (less than 2 litres) or major / severe (more than 2 litres). 

PPH is the third leading cause of death in maternity related cases. 

Data from Scotland records the incidence of severe PPH (the most life-threatening) at 3.7 cases for every 1,000 deliveries. It has been suggested, from a detailed review of maternal death cases, that as many as 60% of cases may have been preventable. 

Although most cases do not have predictable features many of the risk factors can be lessened with the correct care, especially during the later stages of labour.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists acknowledge that active management of the third stage of labour lowers maternal blood loss and reduces the risk of PPH.

Active management includes the use of drugs that cause the uterus to contract called oxytocic agents. Their use has been shown to reduce PPH occurrence by about 60%. They are also recommended for use in women who undergo caesarian sections.

For the lawyer, the use of oxytocic agents, when they were given and at what dosage, and then the subsequent course of events are key components to consider in any potential medical negligence case involving PPH.

If you or someone you know has been affected by PPH contact our team today for a free initial discussion and advice.