The Western Australian District Court today approved one of the state’s biggest ever medical negligence settlements.
Bunbury single mother Teanne Last, 25, has agreed to settle her multi-million dollar claim against the King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth’s biggest maternity hospital, over catastrophic injuries to her son, Zachery Quinn, who was born by emergency caesarean six years ago.
Zachery, who turned six last month, was left with severe physical and intellectual disabilities, including epilepsy, emerging spastic quadriplegia, cerebral palsy and secondary respiratory and gastro-intestinal disorders.
He is confined to a wheelchair, fed through a tube, requires assistance to keep breathing and faces a reduced life expectancy.
Slater and Gordon lawyers lodged a compensation claim against The Minister for Health in July 2009, alleging the injuries were a result of the hospital’s negligence.
The case centred on the hospital’s failure to expedite Zachery’s birth despite clinical signs indicating that prompt delivery was vital.
The State Government admitted negligence two months later and the parties agreed on a settlement figure in July, with the terms of the settlement approved by District Court Chief Judge Peter Martino today.
Slater and Gordon medical negligence lawyer Karina Hafford praised her Ms Last for her relentless pursuit of justice on behalf of her son.
“Teanne is admirable both in terms of her dedication as a mother and in her pursuit of compensation to ensure her son has access to adequate care, equipment and facilities for the remainder of his life,” Ms Hafford said.
“I want to emphasise that this is not a multi-million dollar windfall for our client, it 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.”
“The money will be held by a trustee for Zachery’s future.”
Ms Hafford said Minister for Health Dr Kim Hames should be acknowledged for his intervention in ensuring the matter did not proceed to trial, protecting her client from further anguish.
Ms Last today said, while she was relieved the legal process was over, she still lived in hope that Dr Hames would apologise for the hospital’s actions.
“I would like the Minister for Health to come and meet Zach and see that this is not a boy who will be able to run and jump and play. I want him to realise the impact that the hospital has had on my son,” Ms Last said.
“This has been a long and exhausting process for me and my family and I’m glad the legal side of things is now over but I still need an apology.”
Ms Last said the compensation gave her peace of mind that Zachery would be looked after for the rest of his life.
“At least now I know that if something happens to me, Zach won’t just put in a home and classed as a number and that was always my biggest fear,” she said.
“Money is not going to make him able to jump up and run around, it just means we no longer have to fight for the special care and equipment that he needs.“
Ms Last described Zachery as the light of her life.
“He is the most beautiful boy,” she said.
“All he does is laugh and giggle. He will have a seizure and end up in hospital and he thinks that’s funny.”