skip to Main Content




Growing Stronger

We’re here to help

Protracted labour caused baby’s hypoxic brain damage | Our Client’s Story

Posted on 25th September 2019
Catherine Henry Lawyers
Catherine Henry Lawyers

Share this: 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
hypoxic brain damage

At the birth of their first child, our clients suffered terrible complications during labour and delivery at a Western Sydney hospital. The baby was ultimately born via emergency caesarean section after a protracted labour but suffered severe hypoxic brain damage.

When it became clear that he would have very limited quality of life, his parents made the excruciatingly hard decision that he would not be resuscitated in the event of a serious deterioration in his condition. Their baby passed away at 18 days old.

When our client was admitted to hospital to give birth, she was 40 weeks and five days pregnant. Everything appeared to be progressing normally and the baby was thought to be in the ‘normal’ position for delivery.

Eventually, our client started the pushing stage. Monitoring of the baby led to some concern for the baby’s welfare and it was decided that the baby needed to be delivered urgently. It was decided that our client would be transferred to an operating theatre to try to deliver the baby by forceps. If this was not successful, then a caesarean section would be performed. However, our client recalls that nobody was moving fast or rushing; there was no sense of urgency at all.

It took about half an hour to transfer our client to the operating theatre and during this time the monitoring of the unborn baby was still concerning. A further examination of our client revealed that the baby was not in the ‘normal’ position and would need to be rotated to achieve a favourable position for delivery. This type of delivery (rotational forceps delivery) is more time-consuming and more difficult than a regular forceps delivery.

Rather than proceed with an emergency caesarean, the registrar in charge attempted the rotational forceps. It was the view of experts that this should never have been attempted by a registrar with limited experience in these circumstances. The forceps failed and the registrar requested assistance from the consultant obstetrician. The consultant requested ultrasonic assessment of the baby’s heart rate and at this point the decision was made to perform an emergency caesarean delivery on a ‘code critical’ basis.

Tragically, the baby was born with profound brain damage because of perinatal asphyxia, subsequently diagnosed as ‘hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy’. Because of the extent of his brain damage the parents made the agonising decision to stop active medical management and their baby passed away at just 16 days old.

After a long battle trying to get answers from the hospital, the health service admitted liability for the baby’s death. The remaining issue in the case was whether his parents suffered ‘nervous shock’ because of the hospital’s negligence and, if so, what the quantum of damages should be. We helped our clients to resolve their claim for damages based on their ‘nervous shock’ or psychological injuries.

Our client said, “Our solicitor was so committed it was hard to believe her passion for being our advocate in circumstances where we had tried but were not able to get answers. Catherine Henry Lawyers were able to subpoena documents and act on our behalf. Their involvement reduced some of our stress and we were able to grieve and think clearly for the first time.”

If you or a loved one has experienced injuries as a result of a neonatal death or 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.

Latest blog articles

Back To Top

Stay Informed

Would you like to hear from us with the legal issues and news that matters most to you?

Subscribing to Catherine Henry Lawyers monthly e-newsletter will provide you with access to expert articles, client stories, information resources, downloadable content and relevant updates on law changes that affect you and your loved ones.