Karen Langley said she and her husband David were not told she had an obstructed labour before she had a caesarean at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in 2014. Picture: Liam Kidston
Karen Langley said she and her husband David were not told she had an obstructed labour before she had a caesarean at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in 2014. Picture: Liam Kidston

Nurse sues hospital over baby’s death

NURSE Karen Langley was not told why her baby boy Archer died about an hour after his birth until 15 months later, although she worked at the hospital where he was born.

Mrs Langley said she and her husband David were not even told she had an obstructed labour before she had a caesarean at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital in July, 2014.

"I was a high risk patient, but I had no consultant review throughout the entire labour. I had no sense of a problem,'' Mrs Langley said.

Now the couple, who had to break the news to their two young daughters that their baby brother had not survived, are suing Metro North Hospital and Health Service for $828,347.

"We want to make sure women giving birth there are taken care of, '' Mrs Langley, a nurse of 16 years, who has resigned from RBWH, said.

An inquest heard there was a series of communication breakdowns between staff in the lead up to a delayed caesarean.

"We don't want this to happen to someone else. We will never be the people we were before Archer died,'' Mr Langley said.

Their claim says there were clear signs of an obstructed labour at 3.15pm, a caesarean should have been performed by 4.45pm at the latest, but it did not start until 6.32pm.

Archer died an hour and nine minutes after delivery.

Fifteen months later, after their third daughter was born at RBWH, the Langleys were shocked to receive a Coroner's letter saying Archer's death was caused by amniotic fluid aspiration.

Medical experts said at the inquest if delivery had been closer to when heartbeat irregularities were detected, a better outcome would have been likely.

"Those extra hours when he was getting tired and was obviously unwell could have made all the difference,'' Mrs Langley said.

"We have no doubt if a consultant had been on the ward, Karen would not have been left that long,'' Mr Langley said.

"It's clear an obstructed labour wasn't recognised and dealt with appropriately,'' the couple's lawyer, Sarah Atkinson of Maurice Blackburn said.

In the days after Archer's death, the Langleys found there was nowhere suitable for grieving couples to stay together and David had to sleep on a mattress on a gynaecological ward floor.

"When we left no one said 'Are you okay?','' said Mrs Langley, who feels "betrayed'' by her former employer.

RBWH says it has since made changes to ensure consultant-led care and prompt escalation of concerns. The coroner recommended bereavement facilities for parents.



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