Saturday, 30 September 2023

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Malaysian High Court grants over RM8 million to mother over medical negligence during labour

KUALA LUMPUR — In a significant ruling, a woman and her four-year-old daughter have been awarded over RM8 million by the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.

The ruling came as a result of severe and irreversible brain damage suffered by the child due to medical negligence during her birth at a government hospital.

The plaintiffs, a mother with a high-risk obstetric history and her daughter, lodged a lawsuit in November 2020 against the government and eight other individuals, comprising medical officers and staff. However, the government admitted liability for all the plaintiff’s claims in January 2022, leading to the withdrawal of the suit against the other defendants.

Judicial Commissioner Roz Mawar Rozain clarified that the considerable sum awarded in damages was not a fortune but merely a means to ensure some convenience for the child’s survival.

“She will never have a taste of any decent normal living. The pain and suffering also extends to the mother and the rest of her family,” Roz Mawar stated in her judgement.

The court broke down the damages, awarding RM209,172 for special damages, RM500,000 in general damages to the child (the first plaintiff), and RM114,000 to the mother.

Both plaintiffs also received RM350,000 in aggravated damages. In anticipation of future general damages, the court awarded the first plaintiff a total of RM6,954,156 for the next 40 years. An additional RM215,177.25 was ordered for costs.

The events leading to the negligence began to unfold on 17 March 2019. The woman, who had a high-risk obstetric history, was due for an emergency caesarean. However, despite clear signs of bradycardia in the unborn child, there was a regrettable delay in the operation.

As a result, the child suffered severe brain damage at birth, a condition known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and its sequelae. The delay also caused the exacerbation of the mother’s major depressive disorder.

The first plaintiff, now four, suffers from spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and requires constant care. Despite their personal struggles, the second plaintiff and her husband have become the primary caregivers for the child.

Karthi Kanthabalan, the duo’s counsel, confirmed the court’s decision, also indicating that the government had filed an appeal.

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