Wednesday, April 28, 2010

£5.6 million for girl injured in ill-advised VBAC

I met a woman just the other day at a toddler group whose first baby was born by cesarean and whose second baby had arrived 7 weeks earlier via VBAC. She was happy that she had the chance to deliver vaginally. I also know there are numerous women out there who would choose a VBAC instead of a repeat cesarean, and feel that their informed decision is being unfairly denied.

However, the case below (reported by Darbys Solicitors LLP on Webwire in February) illustrates the reason why many doctors do favor repeat surgery over VBAC - because when it goes wrong, it can seriously injure a baby, distress an entire family and ensure a huge litigation bill at the end. My sympathy lies with the parents, who, like so many families, have to wait years before receiving their compensation, and who feel that they were not informed about all the risks associated with a VBAC.

Choice, not VBAC for all, is crucial
It's one thing if YOU personally want to have a VBAC and are willing to accept the risks, but I would urge caution - particularly in light of what is happening in some Trusts in the NHS currently - that VBAC is not a delivery method that should be encouraged for every woman who has had a previous cesarean. Most importantly, if a woman wants to have a repeat cesarean, she should not be forced to have a VBAC trial of labor first.

This is an extract from the report:

"A 13 year old girl who was severely injured during birth has been awarded £5.6 million in compensation, payable by South Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Alice Joyce was born on 23 March 1996 at Wycombe General Hospital with breathing difficulties, and later developed fits whilst in the Special Care Baby Unit. Her development was delayed and she was later diagnosed as having spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. As a result Alice suffers from severely delayed mental development and learning difficulties.

Were it not for medical negligence on the part of the doctors responsible for Alice’s mother’s care, all this could have been avoided. Doctors failed to inform Mrs Joyce that, due to a previous birth which involved caesarean delivery, there was a risk of rupture of the womb should she have a subsequent labour and vaginal delivery. If she had been warned of this risk she would have chosen to have a second caesarean delivery, thus avoiding the risk of labour."

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