Sun | Sep 23, 2018

Hospital horror! - Mother demands millions for brain damaged baby

Published:Sunday | November 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMBarbara Gayle
Alisha Coleman and her 12-year-old daughter, Tashi Turner.
Alisha Coleman and her daughter, Tashi Turner.

Having already waited more than 12 years for the Government to accept liability for medical negligence which left her daughter, Tashi Turner, with the mental capacity of a baby, 36-year-old Alisha Coleman will have to wait another two weeks to find out how much she will be compensated by the State.

Last month, government lawyers announced that the State would accept liability in the suit brought against the South East Regional Health Authority and the attorney general by attorney-at-law Anthony Williams on behalf of Coleman.

The assessment of damages is scheduled for December 5 in the Supreme Court, and Coleman states, in court documents, that she is seeking more than $155 million for the future care of Tashi.

In addition to special damages, Coleman is seeking millions of dollars in general damages for pain and suffering.

According to Williams, the award for general damages must be substantial because Tashi will never enjoy the niceties of life or get an education.

"It is for the attorney general to make more conscious and timely decisions in cases of this nature, especially when it is clear that the medical team erred or was clearly negligent," Williams told The Sunday Gleaner.

He charged that it is unfortunate that the Attorney General's Chambers only chose to accept liability after 12 years.

"The writing was on the wall and the defendants should have admitted liability a long, long time ago to allow both claimants to benefit financially to deal with their medical woes," said Williams.

The court was told that when Coleman went to the Victoria Jubilee Hospital on July 31, 2005 to give birth, the medical staff diagnosed foetal distress and an emergency Caesarean section was recommended.

She signed the consent form for the surgery, but four hours later there was no surgery and she gave birth naturally.

According to the court documents, at birth the baby was unresponsive and did not cry until after several minutes. The baby then developed seizures and chest infections and had to remain in hospital for two weeks.

Coleman blamed the hospital for being negligent and unskilful in the care, management and treatment of her and the baby.

She said, in the particulars of claim, that the medical staff ought to have known that anoxic injury to the brain is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of foetal distress if delivery was not done by emergency Caesarean section.

The negligence claim also referred to the medical team's failure to take steps to resuscitate the baby immediately at birth or within a reasonable time with adequate supply of oxygen to prevent brain damage.

"I am happy with the outcome but I am disappointed that the case has dragged on for so long. I have always said that whatever the outcome, money cannot compensate for what I lost, because my daughter will never be able to have a conversation with me," said Coleman.