A six-year-old boy who suffered catastrophic injuries from botched medical care at WA's specialist maternity hospital has been awarded more than $9 million in one of Australia's biggest medical negligence payouts.
The $9.03 million settlement to Bunbury single mother Teanne Last in the District Court yesterday comes after a three-year compensation battle with the State Government over her son Zachery Quinn, who was born by emergency caesarean at King Edward Memorial Hospital in 2006.
Lawyers Slater and Gordon argued Zachery was left with severe physical and intellectual disabilities, including cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia and respiratory problems, after the hospital failed to monitor Ms Last's pregnancy properly.
They said she was sent to the hospital after her waters broke and she started bleeding 35 weeks into her pregnancy but KEMH carried out only routine observations for several days, despite her complaining to staff there was no foetal movement.
Ms Last, 25, said she was dismissed as a young and anxious first-time mother.
Yesterday, she said she was relieved she no longer had to fight to get justice for her son, who would never talk and play like other children. Zachery is confined to a wheelchair, fed through a tube, needs to have his airways suctioned and faces a reduced life expectancy.
"I wish things were different and Zac was healthy but at least things will get easier now and I won't need to fight any more for what he needs, like a car to get him around and special equipment," Ms Last said.
She said she wanted to take Zachery to meet Health Minister Kim Hames and explain how hospitals needed to listen more to patients. "I knew something was wrong but they didn't listen to me," she said.
"I want him to know in many cases 'mum knows best' and if we're not listened to, the impact can be devastating."
Her lawyer Karina Hafford said it was a significant settlement that would secure Zachery's future.
"Teanne won't have to worry about the cost of his care all the time and can concentrate on being a mum," she said.
"This is not a multimillion-dollar windfall for our client but is merely providing for the future of her son and recognising that his injuries were as a result of the admitted negligence of the hospital."
Ms Hafford acknowledged that Dr Hames had intervened so the case did not go to trial, which would have caused her client more anguish.