The article “When the Outcomes are Bad, They’re awful” published in the Vancouver Sun on Friday, September 16, 2016, was prompted by a recent analysis done by the Canadian Medical Protective Association, the medical malpractice insurance group for Canadian doctors. The Association revealed that tens of millions of dollars have been paid to families for “botched deliveries” that left at least 25 babies and two mothers’ dead and untold numbers of children severely disabled. The Association reviewed 169 lawsuits and provincial regulatory college complaints involving obstetric emergencies over the past 10 years, including 50 cases from 2010 to 2014, “nearly all of which involved serious patient harm.”
The article referenced Paul McGivern, a Vancouver lawyer whose practice over the last several years has focused on birth injuries and referred to a case that was resolved in June this year in which a B.C. Supreme Court judge awarded Mr. McGivern’s client $5.2 million for brain damage suffered when her mother experienced a uterine rupture. Mr. McGivern said he sees the same problems time and again. “Physicians and nurses just get kind of inured to the symptoms that they should be looking for,” he said.
In May of this year Pacific Medical Law also obtained another successful judgement from a BC Supreme Court judge in another birth injury case. This time the problem involved a pregnant woman whose symptoms of pre-eclampsia were missed when she visited a hospital emergency room. While the nurse involved in her case gave evidence that she took the woman’s blood pressure and that it was normal, the judge found that the nurse had reconstructed her evidence and that the nurse had not, in fact, taken the blood pressure. Two days later she suffered a seizure that ultimately caused a severe brain injury in her unborn baby. The child was left with severe cerebral palsy with developmental and cognitive impairment. The case is currently under appeal.