Supreme court rules in favour of mother and her son who suffered cerebral palsy after doctors failed to advise of risks
A major change in the way doctors are required to give details of material risks associated with recommended treatments has been confirmed by the Supreme Court following a landmark cerebral palsy case.
Sam Montgomery was deprived of oxygen at birth because his shoulder became stuck in his mother's pelvis during delivery. He suffered from cerebral palsy as a result.
Mrs Montgomery who is diabetic, and of small stature, was told that her baby may be large, but was not informed of the risks she could face during birth, nor was she offered a caesarean section.
There is a propensity for diabetic mothers to give birth to larger than normal babies and around 10% of diabetic mothers suffer from hip dystocia during a normal vaginal delivery.
Mrs Montgomery testified that had she been fully informed of the risks she would have opted to have a caesarean section.
The Supreme Court upheld an appeal which stated that doctors are obligated under duty of care to discuss all material risks with their patients, be it relating to recommended or alternative treatments.
Joint head of medical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors, Linda Millband said: “In the past the courts have not concerned themselves with the relationship between doctor and patient, concentrating instead on the act of alleged negligence by the medical staff. The information shared between doctor and patient has not previously proven to be critical to the success of clinical negligence cases.
“This ruling, however, illustrates a progression in the law which will allow patients to seek justice if they were not made aware either adequately or at all of the risks associated with a course of action or type of treatment, or the alternative, safer options which might have been available.
“Mrs Montgomery should have been given details of the risks of a natural childbirth and the courts found that had she been properly informed, she would have decided on a different procedure which, it was accepted, would have prevented her son from being deprived of oxygen at birth. As a result of the negligence, the Montgomery family have been compensated over £5million for the extensive support and care Sam will need for the rest of his life.
“This important judgment should ensure that medical practitioners give mothers far more detail on all of the risks they may face during childbirth and ensure they are aware of all of the options open to them.”
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