Mother dies following childbirth

A 25-year-old north Northumberland woman died from a ‘recognised complication of her pregnancy and childbirth’, an inquest into her death heard.

Stefanie Surtees, who lived at Warkworth, gave birth to a boy in November last year, but started to bleed following the delivery of the placenta.

Despite extensive treatment at Wansbeck General Hospital, she passed away on November 23, 2011.

On Tuesday, north Northumberland coroner Tony Brown recorded a verdict in which the medical cause of death was postpartum haemorrhage.

At the inquest in Alnwick, there was some discussion over the causes of the clotting abnormality which led to the bleeding.

Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Wansbeck Dr Tony Sproston said that the causes could either be infection or an amniotic fluid embolism, although she was given antibiotics in case of infection.

“She had a huge postpartum haemorrhage because of a clotting abnormality, the underlying causes of which we cannot say,” he said.

“As far as I’m concerned, postpartum haemorrhage covers a multitude of sins. I think that’s probably as accurate as we are going to get.”

Forensic pathologist Dr Jennifer Bolton explained that she found no evidence of an amniotic fluid embolism.

But she said that she could not rule it out as a possibilty, although ‘it didn’t reach probably’.

“We are talking about something very rare in itself and I have no proof of it,” she added.

Northumbria NHS Trust has a policy of investigating unexpected deaths such as this and Dr Paul Franks, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, said that the processes in the trust’s guidelines were carried out efficiently and in a systematic manner.

He also said that as there had been three maternal deaths in three months, an external investigation was carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Their written report has not been received but the oral feedback indicated that there were no concerns about the management of this case.

Mr Brown said: “This has clearly been a devastating experience for Stefanie’s mother and her partner Mr Williams.

“My verdict is that Stefanie Jade Surtees died from a recognised complication of her pregnancy and childbirth. The medical cause of death will be recorded as postpartum haemorrhage.”