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Midwife named in medical malpractice suit

The birth of a child should be a joyous occasion. Modern medicine and childcare practices have greatly reduced the likelihood of major incidents during childbirth compared to times past, yet there always remains a chance of something going wrong. A recently settled medical malpractice suit in British Columbia brings to a close the story of one such unfortunate incident, and it could have repercussions on similar cases in Ontario.

A mother gave birth to a baby boy on Vancouver Island in December 2011. The birth took place in the Cowichan District Hospital under the supervision of a midwife and two nurses. During the delivery, the baby suffered severe brain injuries, causing both mental impairment and cerebral palsy. The extent of the injuries was so extreme the child will require care for the remainder of his life.

The mother sued the midwife who cared for her prior to going to the hospital, the Vancouver Island Health Authority and two nurses who worked at the hospital. In her suit, she claimed care from all parties was negligent and that neither her labour nor delivery were attended properly. When the suit was brought to court, the defendants conceded they were liable, and a judge approved a settlement agreement in August 2016.

Unusually, the judge allowed for yearly payments in his ruling, with the total value of the settlement in excess of $3 million to be paid out in annual installments of $400,000 each. Midwives in British Columbia are provided with liability insurance, as they are in Ontario and several other provinces. This insurance covers them in the event of a malpractice suit.

When a child suffers a debilitating injury during birth, the emotional trauma to the parents is beyond quantification. However, the cost of caring for an injured or disabled child is entirely calculable. For those unfortunate enough to have endured a case of medical malpractice in Ontario, a personal injury law firm may be able to help them in their search for financial compensation.

Source: The Globe and Mail, "Vancouver Island mother wins $3-million suit against midwife", Megan Dolski, August 14, 2016

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