Ten years after the events and three years after the first sentence in Ciudad Real, the criminal case opened by a mother and a father against the Castilla-La Mancha Health Service (SESCAM) for the “very serious injuries ” caused to her daughter during childbirth at the Valdepeñas Hospital (Ciudad Real). The legal defense of the parents has been carried out by the association El Defensor del Patient, which reports that an agreement between the accusation and the insurers condemns this Health Service to pay 5.2 million euros. According to the legal representation, it is the largest amount in history for medical negligence in Spain.
My birth was a crime
It was October 2012 when, according to the sentences, the mother went to the Gutiérrez Ortega Hospital in Valdepeñas due to finding herself with labor symptoms. She had had a normal pregnancy and all her previous controls had been normal. She was her third childbirth and two “completely healthy” children were born from the previous two.
During the control of the evolution of labor, the midwife decided to do without one of the two straps used for monitoring the fetal heart rate and the control of the uterine dynamics of the Eco-Doppler system, whose purpose is to detect the early signs indicative of a possible loss of fetal well-being. “That decision prevented the physical situation of the fetus from being effectively controlled.”
Lawyer Francisco Fernández-Bravo explains that “neither was importance given to the 26 episodes of decreased heart rate of the fetus”, at levels of 80 and even 60 beats per minute that are marked on the graphic record, nor to the nine annotations of bradycardia “that were printed on said strip”. He affirms that they were drops in the fetal heart rate, “clear and unequivocal alarm signals in the evolution of this period of childbirth.”
According to the sentences, despite these “clear and unequivocal warning signals” in the evolution, both the gynecologist and the midwife, in charge of monitoring and controlling the birth, with “an absolutely negligent procedure”, did not adopt the necessary measures aimed at solve the situation of loss of fetal well-being.
“Poor control and monitoring”
As a result of the “poor control and follow-up”, the newborn suffered serious and severe neurological damage as a result of the lack of oxygen, caused by the repeated and sustained decrease in the fetal heart rate.
Currently, the minor has the following injuries: hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy with severe infantile paralysis predominantly dystonic, seizures, PEG feeding (endoscopic gastrostomy tube), remaining hospitalized for 91 days in the Neonatology ICU Service of the Hospital de Albacete, requiring various surgical interventions (thyroidectomy, hysterectomy, myomectomy, cystectomy, cholecystectomy, laminectomy, hip/knee replacement, nephrectomy, major laparoscopic procedures and resection/reparative surgery of the digestive tract).
In 2019, almost seven years after the birth, a court in Ciudad Real sentenced the midwife and the gynecologist who attended the birth as perpetrators of a crime of injury due to professional negligence to a nine-month fine, at the rate of a fee. daily ten euros. It also condemned SESCAM and the insurers (Mapfre and Zurich) as the responsible party. According to the association, the compensation was then set at 5.5 million euros. The figure has now been lowered due to “technical issues” of scale.
The Provincial Court of Ciudad Real ratified that sentence months ago after the accusation appealed the first judicial resolution for not agreeing with the compensation. It was the intention of the family to continue with the judicial process until the Supreme Court, but the agreement between the parties has avoided this extreme.
a decade of waiting
The family’s lawyer explains that this large sum of money is largely due to the time that has elapsed and the damage caused to the family. He places special emphasis on the ten years since the girl’s birth and her injuries, which have caused default interest. “A higher amount has been charged for the elapsed time.”
The association for the defense of patients specifies that the insurance companies have just paid the minor and her relatives a total of 2,591,498 euros in principal, plus 2,356,726 euros in interest and capitalization of the annual pension, which together to the costs of the procedure, still to be assessed, will reach an amount of 5.2 million euros.
In Spain, such high compensation for medical negligence has never been issued. The family’s lawyer affirms that the previous largest amount in the country was until now 3.3 million euros.
But he highlights another more human issue: “The most important thing is that we are creating a sensitivity that is changing both in the judiciary and in the population. Before, there was not this culture of claiming rights, and now people are losing their fear and judges are understanding that they have to fully compensate the injured party.”
“The saddest thing about this matter is that nobody has listened to this family until now. No one called from SESCAM, not even when the first sentence was handed down, or offering the means, or assistance, or anything. That is very sad, leaving her family to their fate with a girl with such brutal damage and nothing is done. As a society it should make us reflect”, she concludes.
For its part, the Health Service of Castilla-La Mancha has declined to comment or assess the sentence before the request made by elDiarioclm.es