Half of women experience a red flag event during their maternity care


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Half of women experience a red flag event during their maternity care

The Women’s Institute and the NCT have surveyed around 2,500 women about their experience of maternity care between 2014 and 2016. 

The report found that 50% of the women had experienced a red flag event identified by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

What are red flag events?

In 2014 NICE published guidelines on ‘red flag events’. These events are meant to warn the nurses in charge of staffing issues that they are short staffed and this could lead to the needs of patients on a ward not being met.  

NICE say: ‘A midwifery red flag event is a warning sign that something may be wrong with midwifery staffing. If a midwifery red flag event occurs, the midwife in charge of the service should be notified.
The midwife in charge should determine whether midwifery staffing is the cause, and the action that is needed.’

Examples of maternity red flag events include:

  • A delay of 60 minutes or more in washing or suturing a mother
  • Missed medication during an admission
  • A delay of more than 30 minutes to provide pain relief
  • A woman doesn’t receive one-to-one care and support during established labour
  • Delay in referral to other services where necessary

Have you experienced a red flag event that led to you suffering an injury? Speak to one of our friendly team today.

Birth injury claims

At Negligence Claimline around 25% of all medical negligence claims we receive are related to birth and maternity negligence claims.

The report by the WI and NCT came as no surprise and the figures, although shocking are not uncommon.

Of the 50% of women who said they experienced one of the red flag events the report figures are as follows:

  • 31% of women who required pain relief experienced a delay of 30 minutes or more whilst in labour
  • 28% of women who required medication during or after giving birth, experienced a delay in receiving, or a delay in getting, the prescribed dose
  • 24% of women who required other services either before, or after their birth, were unable to be referred by their midwife
  • 17% of those who experienced a red flag event did not receive one-to-one care during established labour
  • 15% said that their afterbirth care was delayed. This included washing and suturing

The NHSLA and MBRRACE-UK report that Obstetrics and Gynaecology claims accounted for approximately 16% of negligence claims in 2015/2016 and around 45% of the value of claims received in the same period.

Lack of one-to-one care can have devastating effects on babies

In 2016 the Cochrane Review found that women who received midwife-led care were less likely to lose their baby before 24 weeks, have regional analgesia, have experience of a pre-term birth or experience an episiotomy.

It has been proved time and time again that the continuity of care was a key indicator of positive maternity experiences in both postnatal and antenatal care.

Multiple midwives 

88% of women surveyed by the WI and NCT said that they did not know their midwife before they went into labour.

72% of those had seen between one and four midwives during their antenatal period.

However, of the 2,189 women who did not know their midwife, 52% said it made no difference to them. Of those it did effect, not knowing their midwife made them feel frustrated as they kept having to repeat themselves to staff (22%), they felt alone and vulnerable (12%) and in some cases, unsafe (6%).