The Supreme Court recently ordered that a woman be ordered millions of pounds in compensation because her son was brain damaged during the delivery. She had type 1 diabetes and would have had a Caesarean section, had she been made aware of the risks involved.
The facts of the case
In October 1999, Nadine Montgomery gave birth at Bellshill Maternity Hospital. She suffers from type 1 diabetes and had expressed concerns about giving birth by way of vaginal delivery.
Diabetes is associated with increased risk of complication with regards to vaginal birth. In particular, diabetes patients are more likely to have a larger than average baby due to the high glucose levels in their blood. Have a large baby is called macrosomia.
Macrosomia can lead to a third or fourth degree tear, where the mother’s perineum and anal sphincter is torn. It can also result in shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone.
In the case of Mrs Montgomery, this is exactly what happened. She experienced shoulder dystocia, but sadly this caused her baby to be deprived of oxygen. Her son was born with permanent brain damage and severe disabilities.
Mrs Montgomery says that had she be warned of the possible consequences, she would have opted to have an elective Caesarean section. This would have led to her son being born safely, free of brain damage.
On 11 March 2015, the Supreme Court ordered that £5.2 million compensation be paid to Mrs Montgomery by NHS Lanarkshire. The judges said that:
“Had she [the consultant] advised Mrs Montgomery of the risk of shoulder dystocia and discussed with her dispassionately the potential consequences, and the alternative of an elective caesarean section, Mrs Montgomery would probably have elected to be delivered of her baby by caesarean section. It is not in dispute that the baby would then have been born unharmed.”
Expert legal advice
If you have suffered a similar tragedy to Mrs Montgomery, you need to talk to a lawyer about your options. If you should have undergone a caesarean section but proceeded with a vaginal delivery because of poor medical advice or error, you could be entitled to claim compensation.
Although this will not undo the damage you and your family have experienced, you may find it helps you achieve some sense of justice. It will also help with the cost of any care or treatment required.