An NHS Trust was recently on trial for corporate manslaughter for the first time after a woman died following a caesarean section.

Frances Cappuccini, 30, gave birth to her second son in October 2012 by emergency C-section at Tunbridge Wells Hospital. Afterwards she suffered massive blood loss, so she was taken back to theatre and given a general anaesthetic.

She was found to have residual placental tissue in the uterus and this was successfully removed. The surgical team then left the primary school teacher under the care of the anaesthetists, who were asked to restore her normal breathing function.

It was alleged the anaesthetist failed to re-intubate Mrs Cappuccini when she struggled to breathe on her own. A more senior anaesthetist arrived shortly afterwards, but the prosecution said that he too failed to take any action.

The prosecution added that it was only when a third anaesthetist arrived that she was re-intubated. Sadly by this point the mother-of-two was effectively dying and she suffered a fatal heart attack.

“Failed to take reasonable care”

The two doctors were accused of gross negligence manslaughter, which we reported on in April 2015. However, one of the men did not stand trial having left the country. He is thought to have returned to Pakistan.

In a landmark case, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was also on trial, having been accused of corporate manslaughter.

It was alleged that the Trust failed to “take reasonable care to ensure that the anaesthetists involved in the care of Mrs Cappuccini held the appropriate qualifications and training for their role and further failed to take reasonable care to ensure that there was the appropriate level of supervision for the anaesthetic treatment of Mrs Cappuccini.”

It is the first time an NHS Trust has been accused of corporate manslaughter. The trial has now collapsed after the Judge halted proceedings, saying it would be “unsafe and unfair” to continue.

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