On Friday, 28 August 2020, there were media reports of a pregnant woman from Ballina in northern NSW having lost her child due to a delay in providing her with medical treatment that may have saved her unborn child.

We do not fully understand the relevant facts of the woman’s clinical presentation or the circumstances surrounding the events that resulted in the death of her child. However, as we understand it, the woman presented with a medical emergency that required urgent treatment.

The woman was denied access to Queensland where she was likely to have received timely treatment. As a result, she had to wait for 16 hours for a flight to Sydney in order to be admitted to a Sydney hospital where she finally underwent emergency surgery. Sadly, it was too late for her unborn child.

While we appreciate that we are living in unprecedented times, in our view, it is inexcusable to deny a pregnant woman urgent medical care, particularly when the life of her unborn child is threatened, as it clearly was the case here. We are deeply saddened by the death of this child, which is an unimaginable loss that no mother should endure, particularly in circumstances where it may have been avoidable. Unfortunately, in our experience, this is not an uncommon occurrence. We have seen several unborn children lose their lives as a result of inadequate medical treatment and the effects of that trauma on families is devastating. The circumstances of each case are different but there seems to be a common element and that is the failure to appreciate, and adequately investigate, maternal concerns in relation to the wellbeing of the foetus.

Our Medical Negligence Team have assisted several families in pursuing their legal rights to compensation. We understand that no compensation would remedy the great loss of a child but we hope that through the payment of compensation, medical service providers reflect on their practices and protocols and implement appropriate measures to avoid such tragedies from occurring in the future.