Disabled child wins ACT compensation payout

Date: Oct 23, 2014

A severely disabled child has been awarded a $7.5 million payout by the ACT government after claiming medical negligence at Canberra Hospital caused his cerebral palsy.

According to court documents, shortly before his birth in 2000, the mother claimed to have an unstable lie of the foetus. This meant the baby continued to change its position. It was noted the baby was in the breech position, so doctors decided to schedule a caesarean section.

However, this was cancelled after the baby moved prior to the procedure. As the pregnancy continued, the mother completed antenatal visits without incident. This was until she couldn’t feel the baby move anymore and went back to the clinic.

The baby was quickly born via caesarean section and wasn’t breathing when delivered and required emergency treatment. He was monitored for 11 days in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Despite this emergency care, the baby’s brain and organs were deprived of oxygen for long enough to cause serious disability. In fact, court documents claim he suffers 40 separate injuries, disabilities and other medical issues. This includes spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, organ damage, cognitive impairment and constant seizures.

What did the family claim?

The medical negligence claim from the boy’s family alleged the hospital and its staff failed to adequately provide a duty of care to the child or his mother during this time. For example, clinic staff didn’t identify the unstable lie, listen to the description of the baby’s movements and shouldn’t have cancelled the first caesarean.

This lawsuit also claimed they didn’t treat the woman in good time and the birth was unduly delayed by the hospital.

Initially, the ACT government fought the allegations stating that his medical problems weren’t caused by maltreatment from hospital staff. The case was headed for a four-week trial, however, at the eleventh hour, Justice John Burns signed the agreement deal that awarded the claim to the family.

What does the medical compensation cover?

The $7.5 million payout will be very beneficial for the boy and his family as they continue to pay for domestic assistance and other expenses related to his conditions. The compensation will also cover present and future medical treatment and supervision, as well as necessary equipment and aids.

It is also understood that the boy will suffer economic loss for the rest of his life as he is unable to participate in any form of work in the future.

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