Baby born by caesarean op after complications arose during labour
A WOMAN is taking Raffles Hospital to court after alleged complications during the birth of her second child led to his suffering irreversible brain damage.
She is claiming that the hospital did not warn her adequately about the risks of having her second child delivered vaginally after her first had been born by caesarean section.
She is alleging that the hospital failed to spot signs of trouble during labour and avoid damage to her baby.
He now has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, infantile spasms and breathing difficulties, and requires permanent assistance for all daily activities.
The case will bring up the concerns surrounding vaginal births following caesarean sections.
Previously, it was believed that caesarean sections made vaginal delivery afterwards dangerous, because the uterus would form scar tissue from the surgery, and could rupture the next time. But reportedly, more than 50 studies in the United States in the last 30 years have shown vaginal deliveries after caesarean sections to be safe.
The 30-year-old woman, who is not being named because a minor is involved, claims she was not advised on the risks and possible complications in opting for natural birth the second time around. She alleges that Dr Koh Gim Hwee, the attending specialist, had failed to advise her that the uterus could rupture during delivery.
But Dr Koh and the hospital are disputing her claims, and say that the pros and cons had been discussed with her on previous occasions before she was admitted.
They claim she was given the option of a caesarean section twice when she was in labour during the night but she consented only the following morning when the foetal heartbeat had slowed and uterine contractions became more frequent.
The woman says she had a uterine rupture during labour but this is in dispute.
Uterine rupture during labour is the most serious risk, but a rare one. Less than 1 per cent of natural births following caesarean sections result in uterine rupture.
She is seeking damages to be assessed by the court and future expenses required for the baby’s care, as well as some $54,000 spent on medical and miscellaneous costs linked to the delivery.
The woman was admitted on Oct 18, 2008 at about 3pm and was given medication to promote contractions.
But as complications arose through the night, the natural delivery she had asked for was called off and the baby was born next morning by caesarean surgery.
He was blue, showed no reflex and needed prompt resuscitation by a neonatologist.
Represented by lawyer S. Palaniappan, she claims the hospital failed to note the varying effects that the medication had on her uterine contractions, which affected the foetal health of the baby.
She claims there were tell-tale signs which could have led to a decision to do a caesarean section at least eight hours earlier, and injuries to the baby could have been prevented.
But Dr Koh, defended by lawyers Saw Seang Kuan and Esther Yee, claims that she was advised to undergo a caesarean section twice during the night.
Unhappy at having to abandon natural birth, she dithered both times and agreed only the next morning, he added.
The woman is disputing this, saying the prospect of a caesarean section was brought up only on the morning it was done and not before.
The hospital is denying her claims.
A Raffles Medical Group spokesman declined comment when contacted yesterday, “as the legal process is under way at the moment”.