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Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board

Updated July 2, 2024 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Birth injuries resulting from medical malpractice are deeply tragic, as avoidable errors during childbirth can have lasting impacts on both the baby and the family. Mistakes such as improper labor management or insufficient fetal monitoring not only threaten the newborn’s health but also impose emotional and financial strains that may persist for generations. Doctors have a duty to inform patients of the risks involved in any procedure. Failing to do so could make them liable if a patient is injured.

Montgomery v Lanarkshire of 2015 is an English tort law case regarding informed consent. The claimant, Nadine Montgomery, was a diabetic woman of small stature who suffered from birth injuries when delivering her baby vaginally. She claimed the medical professionals did not inform her of the potential risks or of an alternative procedure for giving birth.

Medical Negligence by Lanarkshire Health Board

Nadine Montgomery gave birth vaginally despite the risks and signs indicating she may have been safer having a caesarean section. Montgomery sued the doctors for negligence as they failed to inform her of the risks involved with being a small, diabetic woman delivering a larger baby vaginally.

The Montgomery v Lanarkshire case was an act of failed medical consent due to the following:

  • Failure to inform the patient of the risks to giving birth vaginally
  • Failure to inform the patient of potential birth injuries to be sustained
  • Failure to give patient the choice with recommended process or procedure

Nadine Montgomery’s baby suffered severe disabilities following the birth including shoulder dystocia and cerebral palsy. The claimant sued the health board for damages due to negligence committed as she was not informed of the potential injury to her baby. Dissents from the court ruled that there was no causation and that Montgomery would have opted for a vaginal birth regardless of the risks.

Clinical Concerns  

The defendant argued that many medical professionals are concerned that disclosing too much information or too many options would overwhelm patients with information they may not understand, thus, causing distress or poor decision making. The court, however, emphasized that it is necessary to explain information in a way the patient can understand.

While doctors and healthcare providers may argue that disclosing information to a patient they may not understand increases harm, it is their duty to uphold the medical standard of care by disclosing risks to their patients.

What We Learned from Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board

The Court of United Kingdom released judgement in the favor of Nadine Montgomery in March of 2015. This decision was an overruling of a previous decision made by the House of Lords. The case was deemed a conflict of standards – informed consent versus medical preference. The case of Montgomery v Lanarkshire has made a clear mark on medical law and ethics. Informed consent must be clarified and align with ethical guidance for doctors.

As of today, the Montgomery Test has been applied in several cases in the United States surrounding consent and medical ethics. The ruling in Montgomery v Lanarkshire has given patients a newfound process of giving consent based on proper information and clarification.

Contact an Attorney Today

Parents of babies who have suffered birth injuries as a result of medical negligence are urged to contact the Indianapolis birth injury lawyers of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. At WKW, we can offer you the legal representation you need. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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