Abbey was born with cerebral palsy. She is unable to walk and has to rely on electronic aids to communicate. She is totally dependent on others for all aspects of personal care and domestic help, requiring 24 hour care.
Abbey’s mother had always done an outstanding job caring for her daughter, selflessly devoting her life to trying to achieve a reasonable quality of life for Abbey, whilst also caring for Abbey’s siblings.
However, as Abbey grew older and her weight increased, caring for her took an increasing physical toll on her mother. Disability services funding was never enough to meet all of Abbey’s needs and frequent issues arose with the reliability of carers and their constant staff turnover.
The mother engaged our firm to investigate the circumstances surrounding management of the labour and delivery.
We concluded that Abbey’s cerebral palsy was avoidable.
During the labour, soon after administration of an epidural analgesia, the mother had begun to feel nauseous. Her blood pressure should have been checked at that time but this did not occur until 15 minutes later. By this time, her blood pressure had dropped significantly. She began vomiting, her pulse was weak and her blood pressure became unrecordable.
The unrecordable blood pressure and the mother’s poor condition should have been treated as a medical emergency however it was not.
Eventually Abbey was delivered by emergency caesarean section however the delay in recognising the seriousness of the situation, contacting the anaesthetist in charge, and transferring the mother to theatre caused Abbey to suffer hypoxia, (lack of oxygen) while still in the womb resulting in irreparable brain damage, (hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy) and her cerebral palsy.
The case involved multiple allegations of negligence against the anaesthetist and the hospital concerned, regarding both the process around administration of the epidural to the mother, and her subsequent management.
The hospital and the anaesthetist were separately represented, by different solicitors, both of whom vigorously denied the claim.
We commissioned reports from multiple interstate experts, including an anaesthetist, obstetrician, midwife and a neonatologist, and engaged 2 barristers, both with extensive experience in medical negligence claims, to assist in achieving the best possible outcome for our client.
Generally, compensation in successful cerebral palsy claims is millions of dollars, the cost of the child’s care over a lifetime being enormous.
Ultimately, following an all day mediation, Abbey’s claim was able to be resolved for a substantial sum.
No sum of money is adequate compensation for depriving a child of a normal, healthy life but the settlement achieved in this matter will provide Abbey with some financial security and enable her to have the care and equipment she needs both now and in to the future.