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Late medical negligence application refused for birth injury claimant

Posted in: Medical Negligence 

A late application to amend a woman’s claim against a health board has been refused. 23-year-old Jill Clark was left permanently brain-damaged after suffering a severe brain injury during birth. She sued Greater Glasgow Health Board for £15million, claiming that midwives and doctors “negligently mismanaged” her mother’s labour. A Court of Session judge ruled that the minute of amendment — proposing a new “risk disclosure” case based on the UK Supreme Court’s decision in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board — “conflicts with the principle of finality”.

It was heard in court that Miss Clark’s mother’s womb was ruptured at 03:45, forcing the baby to be delivered by emergency caesarean at 04:10 on 2 March 1992 at the Queen Mother’s Maternity Hospital in Glasgow. However, the emergency c-section left her with a “profound and irreversiblebrain injury. She was left with no power of speech and “largely incapable”. However, her intellectual functioning, hearing and vision were “largely spared”. 

“radical change of front”

It was argued that the mismanagement was detectable in a number of points, including the fact that the labour was high-risk as the mother had had a previous caesarean section. It was found that where the labour was augmented with Syntocinon, additional strain was placed on the womb; the rate of augmentation was too high; a vaginal examination should have been carried out; labour should have been abandoned and delivery effected by caesarean at 03:30 at the latest.

The pursuer additionally argued, using assistive technology, that her oxygen supply was impaired due to the womb rupture — noted by the judge as a “radical change of front”. Lord Stewart ruled:

“On balance I am not persuaded that it is reasonable, equitable and in the interests of justice to allow the new case to be added at this stage or indeed to allow the procedure to be taken further.”

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