A seven-year-old boy from Nova Scotia who suffered birth asphyxia during delivery has secured $6 million in a settlement. The boy’s injuries at birth led to severe cerebral palsy.
After seven years of legal battle, the child’s attorneys have entered into an agreement with obstetrician Dr. Alison Ball and the Gusyborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority, a district-level province health authority serving residents of Nova Scotia. It’s the largest birth injury settlement in Nova Scotia’s history, the Canadian Press reports.
Child, Family Secure $6M For Cerebral Palsy
The boy was born on July 31, 2010 at a hospital in Antigonish, a town in Nova Scotia. Delivered with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, he was airlifted to a treatment center in Halifax, where doctors quickly placed him inside a hypothermia machine.
He spent 3 full days in treatment, but physicians were unable to reverse the brain damage caused by his perinatal oxygen deprivation. In their medical malpractice lawsuit, the boy’s parents argued that the doctors in Antigonish, including Ball, an obstetrical resident at the time, had failed to diagnose their son’s perilous condition in time.
Lawsuit: Doctors Failed To Address Fetal Distress
Prior to his delivery, the parents claimed, a heart rate monitor used in the delivery room showed that their son had gone into fetal distress; the umbilical cord, wrapped around his neck, had become obstructed, leading to a drastic decrease in oxygen flow.
The lawsuit claims that the boy’s cerebral palsy diagnosis could have been avoided if the obstetrician had performed a Cesarean section.
Per the settlement’s terms, neither Dr. Ball nor the Gusyborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority have admitted fault for the boy’s injuries. $4 million of the $6 million settlement will be paid by the obstetrician; the remaining $2 million is the health authority’s responsibility.
Settlement Goes To Life-Long Medical Care
Attorney John McKiggan, who represented the family, says that the plaintiff-child “is unable to care for himself in any way.” The seven-year-old boy cannot speak, or walk on his own. “He’s partially fed through the G-tube, and partially fed orally,” his mother described.
“Any sort of personal care – we do all that – you know, the bathing, the changing, the dressing. He’s totally dependent on his parents for his care.”
The boy “will require 24-hour attendant care for the rest of his life,” McKiggan continued. He hopes the $6 million settlement will adequately compensate the boy for his past and future medical care, along with the pain and suffering he has already experienced in his short life.
So does the boy’s mother, Monique Chisholm, who was interviewed by a reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “This settlement allows us to give [our son] the best quality of life,” she said.
The Extraordinary Expenses Of Severe Cerebral Palsy
The cost of his medical care alone is astronomical. This year, his parents will spend around $70,000 to care for their son. By his 21st birthday, care will cost an estimated $130,000. A $3 million annuity has been purchased to provide the child with regular payments throughout his life.
Parents Receive $3M For Loss Of Income & Care Provided
A $3 million chunk of the agreement has been set aside to compensate the parents for the extraordinary efforts they have undertaken in caring for their child.
The child’s mother, in particular, had no choice but to leave her job; a portion of the settlement is intended to compensate her for her past and future losses in income, money that could have gone into her child’s care. “There are funds to purchase all the rehabilitation needs he will require,” attorney McKiggan says, “and money to buy a wheelchair-accessible home.”