Family of woman who died in childbirth allowed to seek claims

THE husband and daughter of a teacher who died in 2007 while delivering her son, will have their day in court to seek dependency claims from her obstetrician and Thomson Medical Centre (TMC). This was allowed although their suit was filed past the three-year statutory limitation period.

The Court of Appeal yesterday ruled that father and daughter should be allowed to pursue their claims, overturning a lower court decision, which had struck out their claims on the grounds that they were time-barred from suing.

The three-judge court said it seems that there was an arguable case that the late disclosure of a set of medical reports "might have resulted in the concealment of the cause of action and resulted in the late commencement of the suit".

The trial judge will have to decide if the defendants can be prevented from using the limitation defence on the grounds that they had acted fraudulently to conceal negligence, said the court. The patient and her family cannot be named for legal reasons.

In September 2007, the woman, who was given oxyto-cin to induce labour, died during childbirth from acute amniotic fluid embolism. The baby, who suffered brain damage at birth, has severe disabilities.

In the months after her death, her husband asked her obstetrician Koh Cheng Huat for a medical report and TMC for a copy of his wife's medical records.

However, it appeared that the cardiotocography (CTG) reading, which monitors the foetal heart beat and labour contractions, was incomplete.

In January 2014, the man and his two children filed a negligence suit for damages, including dependency claims and claims for physical injury to the son.

Five months later, portions of the CTG records that were previously omitted were finally provided to the husband.

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