We helped an Aboriginal woman to successfully resolve a case against the Mid North Coast Health District for the birth trauma she experienced at a local hospital.
Our client had a very rapid delivery. During the labour, she suffered a perineal tear which a midwife diagnosed as “second-degree.” However, a review by an obstetrics and gynaecology registrar showed she had in fact suffered a fourth-degree tear.
The proper practice following such a significant injury would have been to repair the injury in a hospital operating theatre, but this did not happen. Instead the registrar repaired the tear in the birthing suite leading to a very sub-optimal result.
Three days after the birth, our client was discharged from the hospital. This was inappropriate for a number of clinical reasons. It was not until 10 days after the birth that the extent of the tear that occurred during labour was detected.
On examination, the registrar’s repair of the tear was found to be deficient, the surgical wound broke down and our client developed a rectovaginal fistula. She had to endure several more procedures – both day procedures and operations, and needed a temporary colostomy.
Seeking justice for her injuries
Our in-house nurse had worked as a midwife and was able to assist our health law team to quickly get to the crux of the case. She knew from her midwifery experience that the way in which the tear had been managed was not clinically appropriate. She helped us establish the case in negligence and ask the right questions of the doctors we engaged as experts.
We used the opinions of a colorectal surgeon, a urogynaecologist and a clinical psychologist to prepare the case.
We argued that if the tear had been repaired properly in the first instance that the rectovaginal fistula would probably have been avoided.
Our client claimed that a number of her operations and procedures would not have been necessary had the tear repair been done appropriately. She suffered unnecessary pain and suffering which was often debilitating. She had to learn how to use a colostomy. We also argued that she should be compensated for her psychological distress as her coping mechanisms had been tested to the limit.
Given our client’s youth, the nature and extent of her injuries, the ongoing pain, interference with her enjoyment of life and her work, and the prospect of further surgery and its uncertain outcome, we successfully sought and obtained significant compensation.
If you or a loved one has experienced injuries as a result of birth trauma, our caring, expert female lawyers can help advocate for you and seek justice. Please talk to us about the options available to you.