£5.25m Landmark victory after 16 year legal fight

Nadine Montgomery's son sustained a brain injury at birth and now has cerebral palsy and severe disabilities.

The 40-year-old from Lanarkshire claims medics neglected to give her proper advice which may have led to her son, Sam being born through Caesarean in 1999. Her damages claim had been rejected on two previous occasions at the Court of Session in Edinburgh Judges at the Supreme Court in London have now upheld her major damages claim against NHS Lanarkshire and have awarded her £5.25m compensation. The case hinged on whether the health board went far enough in advising Mrs Montgomery, who is small and a Type 1 diabetic, of all the potential risks of giving birth to her son. It is recognised that diabetic mothers can give birth to larger than average babies, putting them at risk of complications from traditional births, including shoulder dystocia, where the baby gets stuck. In Mrs Montgomery's case, Sam's shoulder became stuck after the delivery of his head. » Expert advice if you are thinking about making a claim on behalf of your child. The staff performed appropriate manoeuvres to release the shoulder, but during the 12-minute delay, he suffered oxygen depravation. The need for resuscitation resulted in brain damage, leading to cerebral palsy and damage to the nerves which control shoulder, arm and hand movements. Mrs Montgomery had expressed concerns during pregnancy about her ability to deliver the baby safely. Her obstetrician was aware of the risks of shoulder dystocia, but made a decision not to discuss this with Mrs Montgomery - or to discuss caesarean section as an alternative. Mrs Montgomery indicated that had she been advised of the risks, she would have elected for a caesarean section. In their ruling, the judges said: "The only conclusion that we can reasonably reach is that, had she (the consultant) advised Mrs Montgomery of the risk of shoulder dystocia and discussed with her dispassionately the potential consequences, and the alternative of an elective caesarean section, Mrs Montgomery would probably have elected to be delivered of her baby by caesarean section. "It is not in dispute that the baby would then have been born unharmed." Mrs Montgomery's lawyer, Fred Tyler, from Balfour and Manson, said: "This is almost certainly the most significant medical negligence judgement in 30 years - a momentous decision which will affect the doctor-patient relationship throughout the UK. "Doctors will have to discuss with their patients the options that exist in their treatment and advise them about the alternatives and any associated risks." Following the ruling, Mrs Montgomery said: "This judgment is an enormous relief after a very long legal fight. "I believe that I had the right to know of all the risks surrounding Sam's birth - and I am pleased the Supreme Court has recognised that. I hope this means that other patients will not have to go through what I have gone through. "The decision will allow me to ensure Sam receives the best possible care for the rest of his life."
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