Hunter New England Local Health District has agreed to a settlement with the parents of a boy who suffered serious injuries during his birth.
The amount of compensation the couple will receive was not disclosed, which is often the situation with medical negligence cases that are settled before trial.
However, the Supreme Court published some of the details after the claim went before Justice Stephen Rothman for final approval.
Under the Supreme Court Act 1970 and the Supreme Court Rules 1970, a judge must give the green light to medical negligence settlements that involve a child with a disability.
According to court documents, the plaintiff suffered hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy, which is when oxygen deprivation leads to a brain injury. The boy was also diagnosed with metabolic acidosis, seizures and hypoxemia.
These events resulted in the plaintiff developing cerebral palsy, leaving him severely disabled. No further details were provided regarding the negligence that allegedly occurred, but the baby was apparently born without the use of cardiotocography.
Medical practitioners use this technical method to track foetal heartbeat and uterine contractions prior to a baby’s delivery.
“A controlled artificial rupture of membranes was performed and the plaintiff was born with no respiratory effort and was taken to resuscitation at the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit,” Justice Rothman stated.
The court documents noted that the plaintiff’s parents will receive $250,000 from the settlement amount immediately, with the remainder of the sum – which remained confidential – at a later date.
Furthermore, Justice Rothman revealed that Hunter New England Local Health District had agreed to pay the plaintiff’s $500,000 legal costs.
The full details of the settlement may never come to light, as non-disclosure clauses are commonly written into these agreements.
Nevertheless, medical negligence resulting in severe birth defects can lead to multi-million-dollar payouts because of the lifetime costs associated with caring for disabled children. Non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, can also be considerable.
For example, a boy who developed cerebral palsy due to mistakes made during his delivery received $7.5 million in the ACT Supreme Court in 2014.
Canberra Hospital decided to settle the case soon after the court began hearing evidence of the claim, cutting short a four-week hearing process.
Do you think you’ve suffered negligence at the hands of a medical practitioner in NSW? Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to discuss a claim.