Ekatha Ann John, TNN | Oct 13, 2013,
Niranjana Kumaresan, a 33-year-old woman hailing from Chennai, filed a complaint with UK’s National Health Service (NHS) alleging that doctors and staff at Barnet and Chase Farm hospital in north London ignored her plea for help even after she repeatedly told them she had stopped feeling the baby’s movement and doctors themselves confirmed the baby’s heart beats were not detected.
“I first felt the baby had become still on September 18, three days after my due date. The previous day I felt my water had broken and reported to the hospital with intense pain. The midwife examined the baby’s heart and felt its head position before sending me back home,” Niranjana told TOI over phone from their house in Middlesex.
Doctors say considering Niranjana’s fetus was in oblique position and she underwent a caesarean for her first child, the delay risked not just the baby’s life, but the mother’s as well. “When a patient with history of C-section with oblique transverse lie comes with pain, show and leak, an emergency C-section should be done to save the baby and the mother,” said noted obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Kamala Selvaraj.
When Niranjana reported she couldn’t feel the baby’s movement, doctors allegedly tried to allay her fears saying it was because of the fever she had overnight. “She was advised to take a paracetamol without any examination,” said Niranjana’s husband Karthikeyan Kumaresan, a software engineer.
Twelve hours later the couple called for the antenatal team which found traces of blood in her urine. “We were moved to a ward, but Niranjana wasn’t examined until three hours later,” said Karthikeyan, who along with Niranjana moved to the UK from Chennai six years ago.
The midwife who came to examine Niranjana couldn’t detect the baby’s heart beat with the hospital’s mobile scan and the couple were asked to return the next morning. “We were so hassled and upset by then. They so casually asked us to return the next day even after realising the baby’s heart beat was missing. They tried downplaying our fear stating that the scan had probably stopped working which is why it failed to pick up the heart beat,” said Niranjana, who has a 6-year-old daughter.
On September 19, by which time Niranjana was overdue by four days, she was moved to the delivery room. “I was in a lot of pain by then. But even then, the staff kept saying I wasn’t ready as yet. When I went to the washroom the next day to relieve myself, I saw the baby’s head.