The family of a baby left disabled after swallowing a battery are pursuing a medical negligence claim against the hospitals that treated him.
Queensland doctors allegedly spotted the battery on an X-ray for four-month-old Oscar, but mistook it for a shirt button. The battery eventually eroded the toddler's spine, leaving him with lifelong disabilities.
According to the Daily Mail, the boy's parents took him to their local GP in 2010 when he developed breathing problems. Oscar was referred to Mossman Hospital for X-rays before being admitted to Cairns Base Hospital when his condition deteriorated.
Medical practitioners took more than 15 hours to spot and remove the battery, but Oscar had to return to hospital just four weeks later after he began frothing at the mouth. Scans revealed the tot's spine had been severely weakened due to three vertebrae sustaining extensive damage.
The boy was placed in a medically induced coma and immediately flown to Brisbane's Royal Children's Hospital. On arrival, he was required to wear a full body cast for eight months.
Medical negligence claim
Oscar's parents argue there was a critical delay before the doctors recognised the issue, and medical practitioners also failed to spot that the youngster's spine had been so seriously damaged after the incident.
The battery allegedly reacted with the child's saliva, which resulted in severe tissue damage to both the child's oesophagus and cervical spine. Three of his discs have now fused, greatly reducing his mobility, including an inability to raise his head.
Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Acting Chief Executive Caroline Wagner told the Daily Mail that the case is currently ongoing, making it inappropriate to comment at this time.
However, she added: "Cairns Hospital regularly reviews the way we operate to ensure we are providing the most appropriate care to our community."
Pursuing a claim in NSW
While this particular incident occurred in Queensland, families can pursue medical negligence claims in NSW and other states.
If you feel a medical practitioner has breached their duty of care, you should contact an experienced compensation lawyer in order to discuss the available options.
Medical negligence can cover a wide range of potential issues, such as misdiagnosing an illness, the improper prescription of drugs or a failure to inform patients of the risks of surgery.
Successful claimants can receive compensation for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, as well as money for lost wages, superannuation and medical costs.