Claiming damages for psychiatric injury during childbirth
The issue of psychatric harm caused to a mother who experienced poor birth outcomes has once again been raised. Andrew Symon reports on YAH v Medway NHS Foundation Trust
A previous article in this series recounted a court case (RE and others v Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust ) in which a mother successfully sued for damages because she had suffered a recognised psychiatric illness following a midwife's negligence (Symon, 2017). It is important to note that such claims are only valid if it is established that negligence has occurred. A similar case was heard at the end of 2018 (YAH v Medway NHS Foundation Trust ). Once again, the defendants admitted negligence—in this case, by delaying a caesarean section long after it ought to have been carried out. The result was that the baby (referred to as XAS) was severely asphyxiated at birth, and subsequently developed cerebral palsy.
As in the case of RE v Calderdale , there was a dispute over whether the mother was a primary or a secondary victim. This is an important distinction:
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