The case of Eric Victor Cojocaru, a now-seven year-old boy born with severe brain damage and permanent physical disabilities, is a tragic reminder that there are risks associated with childbirth, even at a medical facility with the sterling reputation of BC Women’s Hospital.
Childbirth seems miraculous to most of us, but it is not mistake-proof. Untoward events happen and bad outcomes are the result.
Last month, Justice Joel Groves of the B.C. Supreme Court, awarded the boy and his mother, Monica Cojocaru, just over $4 million in damages after finding the hospital, three doctors and a nurse negligent. The hospital and health professionals have filed a notice to appeal.
In his decision, the judge said:
“Tragically, Ms. Cojocaru did not receive the care she should have. ... While in a situation of being virtually unsupervised, although a high-risk patient, her uterus ruptured and hemorrhaged and her son ... suffered acute asphyxial insult.”
The judge found that the obstetricians did not find out from her former doctor in Romania the orientation of a scar Cojocaru had from her previous caesarean section delivery. If they had got that information from the operative report, they would have realized that she had had a previous C-section with a vertical uterine incision, and she was unsuitable to risk a vaginal delivery.
... Birth trauma is defined as injury to newborns that may be anything from a minor bruise or laceration to a major brain or skeletal injury occurring during delivery.
... In an attempt to bring down the c-section rate in the last decade, doctors have determined that a previous C-section may not preclude the more “natural” vaginal delivery for subsequent births. So women who fit a low-risk profile may be offered a chance at labour in the hopes that they can experience childbirth without surgery and the potential risks that go along with it.
The national average for caesarean births is 25.6 per cent.
Classical (vertical) uterine incisions do carry a high risk of uterine rupture, and therefore women who have had a previous classical incision are advised to have an elective repeat caesarean for future births.