QA Hospital doctors accused of mistakes at inquest into death of seven-day-old baby

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DOCTORS have been accused of ‘mistakes’ by parents whose newborn baby died in their arms.

Charlene and Matthew Knight suffered every parent’s worst nightmare when their baby Albert died at Queen Alexandra Hospital on June 25 last year after being taken off life-support.

The Coroner's Court in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth'Picture: Malcolm Wells (180405-3355)

The Coroner's Court in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth'Picture: Malcolm Wells (180405-3355)

Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard how Ms Knight’s concerns over a sudden lack of movement from her unborn baby were checked by doctors before the parent was sent home.

Ms Knight was booked in for a Caesarean on June 21 to give birth early on 38 weeks after concerns over Albert. But the mum-to-be subsequently went into labour three days earlier, resulting in paramedics delivering the baby legs first at the couple’s Portsmouth home before he was rushed to hospital.

Doctor Joseph Uzokwe, a locum registrar at QA who assessed Albert and now no longer works at the hospital, admitted he thought about admitting Ms Knight early before deciding against it after consulting with a colleague.

‘I did discuss with the family that I thought she should be admitted,’ Dr Uzokwe told the hearing. ‘Looking at the scan the baby was growing along the right curve.

‘I told Charlene to go home and if she had any concerns to call in. We suggested a plan for her to come and have her baby checked every day.’

Coroner Lincoln Brookes asked the doctor if the ‘appropriate pathway’ of sending Ms Knight home was made. ‘I didn’t see any need for an urgent Caesarean,’ Dr Uzokwe said.

The consultant went on to say Ms Knight had recovered ‘foetal movements’ but the parents’ barrister David Peter replied: ‘She didn’t (recover movements) did she?’

Mr Uzokwe hit back saying ‘yes she did’ before adding: ‘She had a scan which was normal so there was nothing to worry about.

‘The baby was small but it was not below the 10th centile (requiring urgent attention).’

The hearing also heard how Albert’s amniotic fluid level was reduced before his rapid birth.

Doctor Srabani Mukherjee, who was the on-call consultant, said she wouldn’t have done anything differently after being called by Dr Uzokwe.

‘I always play safe with every baby. If I had the slightest doubt I would have admitted her and delivered her,’ Dr Mukherjee said. ‘Things are not black and white.’

Mr Peter asked the doctor: ‘Is it possible you made a mistake?’

‘We didn’t make a mistake,’ Dr Mukherjee said.

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Doctor Hugh Jones, Ms Knight’s labour consultant, said Albert was put on a ventilation device once he was brought into QA after suffering a lack of oxygen to the brain. 

The baby was also given a cooling blanket to minimise damage to the brain before Albert started to have seizures - with him said to have ‘widespread hypoxia’ after five days in intensive care.

Dr Jones said: ‘Liver enzymes suggest Albert suffered hypoxia prior to birth.’

Pathologist Samantha Holden confirmed the cause of death was from hypoxia after a lack of oxygen to Albert’s brain.