Obstetrics and Gynaecology Negligence

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Need legal advice regarding an obstetric or gynaecology injury claim? If you have suffered from medical negligence which causes injury, loss, disability or illness, you  may be eligible for compensation. Contact our Australian legal service to find out how we may be of assistance.

Obstetrics and Gynaecology Injuries

Injuries occurring just before, during, or immediately after the birth of a child can be emotionally traumatic and financially overwhelming for victims and their families, especially if these injuries are the result of medical negligence.

A Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist (OBGYN) is also known as simply as an Obstetrician if most of his/her work is in dealing with pregnancy, or as a Gynaecologist if most of his/her work is non-pregnancy related gynaecology. If most of his/her work is in the field of infertility then he/she may be known as a Fertility Specialist.

OBGYN's deal with pregnancy, labour and delivery as well as ectopic pregnancy, Caesarian sections, forceps and vacuum delivery, miscarriages, terminations (abortions), sterilisations and infertility. They also manage medical conditions such as cervical cancer, tumours and cysts of the ovaries, endometriosis, hysterectomies, vaginal surgery and failed contraception.

Negligence Law

To establish obstetric or gynaecological negligence, the patient must prove that:

1. The doctor owed the patient a duty of care; AND

2. The doctor breached that duty of care by some act or omission; AND

3. This act or omission has caused the patient physical and/or psychological and/or financial harm; AND

4. Damage.

Compensation Claims

Each case varies and depends on its own facts. The amount of compensation awarded depends on the extent of the damage suffered.

Examples of areas in which there have been obstetric and gynaecology compensation claims involving negligence include:

  • Prolonged or problematic labour leading to birth hypoxia/ brain damage/ cerebral palsy in the newborn baby
  • Difficulties associated with a trial of labour
  • Problems following Caesarian section or following forceps or vacuum delivery
  • Forceps delivery causing skull fracture, brain damage
  • Failed sterilisation
  • Brachial plexus injury or Erb's Palsy following shoulder dystocia
  • Bladder or bowel or ureter injury during gynaecological operations
  • Complications of hysterectomy operations- vaginal and abdominal hysterectomy (removal of the uterus);
  • Problems with infertility treatments
  • Complications of twin pregnancy
  • Negligent management of uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts
  • Birth asphyxia causing brain damage or neonatal death
  • Failure to detect foetal abnormalities on ultrasound
  • Failure to diagnose, monitor and manage pre-eclampsia
  • Failure to properly test for genetic abnormalities
  • Inappropriate administration of Syntocinon
  • Meconium aspiration syndrome
  • Premature labour due to mismanagement of urinary tract infection
  • Failure to diagnose pregnancy
  • Failure to properly implant contraceptive device

Birth Injuries such as Cerebral Palsy

How do I know if there was obstetric negligence in my particular situation?

Not all children born with cerebral palsy have this condition because of something wrong that the treating doctors did. Some babies can go through a near "perfect" labour and still be born with cerebral palsy.

So how do you know if your child's cerebral palsy was caused by medical negligence? There is no easy way to tell.

An experienced medical negligence lawyer can review the antenatal treatment records, the mother's and baby's hospital notes, and obtain expert independent medical evidence which will look at the standard of care that was provided to you, whether the treating medical professionals have breached their duty of care, and whether these breaches have caused your child's cerebral palsy.

In medical negligence law, you do not have to prove something to 100% certainty. You only need to establish the most probable or likely cause of the damage. So if you can show that the most probable cause of your baby's cerebral palsy is a breach in duty of care, then your child will be entitled to be compensated. The same applies with all medical negligence cases- you need to establish a case "on the balance of probabilities". Each of the 4 points listed above (duty of care, breach, causation, damage) need to be proven  on the balance of probabilities, to be successful in a compensation case.

It may sound simple, but medical negligence is actually one of the most complex areas of the law. That is why you should seek the advice from an expert lawyer.

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