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Birth Injury Claims – Retained Placenta

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Birth Injury Claims – Retained Placenta

The issue of substantial retention and small retention.

Giving birth is a precious event but when things go wrong it can be devastating.  During pregnancy or during the birth of the child complications may arise which could lead to harm to the mother or baby, for more information regarding various birth injury claims click on the link.  Here we are concentrating on complications surrounding “retained placenta” following birth.

One of the birth injuries that could be sustained by the mother includes the ‘retained placenta’. A birth injury claim for compensation, may arise where the placenta is retained, where the placenta that has not undergone placental expulsion within 30 minutes of the delivery of the baby. This can cause haemorrhaging or infection to the mother. Failure to diagnose retained placenta can be negligent and the injuries suffered could have been preventable meaning a claim for maternity negligence compensation could be possible.

The Case Clinical Negligence Case of Manzi v King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (May 12th 2016)

To illustrate the birth injury claim of retained placenta, this post will refer to a previous case law example where a claim against a hospital had not been successful in respect of the mother sustaining injury as a result of the placenta not having undergone complete expulsion from her body. The point here is to highlight the key distinction between ‘substantial vs.small retention’ of the placental tissue that needs to be addressed in order to determine the success of a claim.

In the recent case of Manzi v King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (May 12th 2016), the claimant’s case against the hospital trust was that after giving birth to her child, the registrar who had attended her had negligently failed to see on an ultrasound scan that she had failed to deliver a substantial part of the placenta. The claimant alleged that, as a result, she had suffered pain and subsequently had to have the piece of placenta removed under a general anaesthetic, following which she suffered a haemorrhage.

She asserted that, as a result, she suffered two periods of adjustment disorder: the first for about a year after the birth of her second child, and the second for about eight months while she was pregnant with her third child.

The trust accepted that a small piece of placenta might have been retained but said that it was not substantial. Furthermore, the trust provided that what had been removed was a small piece together with blood which had clotted and accreted around it.

The issue in this case was therefore whether or not the piece of placenta which had been retained was small or substantial. The parties agreed that ‘small’ should be treated as around 2cm and ‘substantial’ about 7cm.

According to the judgement of the Court in this case (Queen’s Bench Division), the evidence shows that the piece of placenta which had been retained in the claimant’s uterus after the birth was not substantial; it was small.

Therefore, because the parties in this case were agreed that a necessary step for the claimant to succeed in her claim was to find in her favour that a substantial amount of placenta was retained in her uterus following the birth of her child, it followed that her claim had to be dismissed.

Summary of Making a Clinical Negligence Claim and Retained Placenta

The rationale from this case is very important in any potential birth injury claims concerning retained placenta. There must be a substantial amount of the placenta being retained by the mother in her body (approximately at about 7cm of placental tissue) in order for her to have a strong chance of being successful in her claim.
However, it may be taken that the above case was unique to its facts and so there may still be a potential chance for a successful claim if the placenta was fragmented (small portion of placental tissue being retained in the body) and there was significant damages arising from this retention. Indeed, each claim may be decided on a case by case basis.

We hope this post has been both informative and helpful. Please contact us now if you wish to consider making a birth injury claim for retained placenta.

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