The Supreme Court of the UK has ruled that Nadine Montgomery will receive a £5.25 million settlement from the Lanarkshire Health Board. That settlement is the conclusion of a 16-year legal battle that began when Ms. Montgomery’s son Sam was born in the Bellshill Maternity Hospital in Lanarkshire in October, 1999.
Sam’s shoulder had gotten stuck while he was being born, and he had to be resuscitated. During those minutes, his brain was deprived of oxygen. That caused him to develop cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects coordination and movement. It lasts the patient’s lifetime and there is currently no cure.
Ms. Montgomery claimed that the obstetrician in charge of her had not given her sufficient warning about the risks of natural birth for someone who is five feet tall and has Type 1 diabetes. She had asked about the risks during labor. Research has shown that women with diabetes can have large babies, which increases the chances of complications.
One such complication is shoulder dystocia, in which the baby’s shoulders are too broad to fit through the pelvis. That had been Sam’s problem, and he had been stuck for 12 minutes. The staff had to resuscitate him, and he ended up with brain damage and damage affecting the nerves going from his spine to his hand, arm, and shoulder.
Ms. Montgomery states she would have chosen a Caesarean if she had known more about the risks of natural birth for a diabetic. The obstetrician, Dr. Dina McLellan, said she did not discuss the risks of shoulder dystocia with patients, even though it occurs in nine or ten percent of births. She said most women who are told about it then chose Caesareans, which she believes are not in the women’s best interest.
The judges ruled that more advice should have been offered. They also agreed with Ms. Montgomery that Sam would have been delivered unharmed if he’d been born through a Caesaean.