Woman gets compensated for vacuum-assisted birth

Woman demands compensation for baby's paralysis, gets compensated for loss of autonomy instead.

Orly Harari,

Delivery room
Delivery room

A Ness Ziona resident arrived at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center with contractions, but when the birth did not progress, hospital staff decided to use a vacuum to help the baby out.

Afterwards, the woman discovered that her baby's left arm was paralyzed. The mother and her husband hired attorneys and sued the hospital and Israel's Health Ministry for damages.

Included in the suit were demands for compensation for the child's permanent disability and compensation for the woman's lack of autonomy during the birth.

The woman claimed Assaf Harofeh staff did not explain what possible complications of vacuum-assisted births are, and did not ask her permission to use the vacuum.

Tel Aviv Hashalom Court's Judge Sigal Dominatz rejected the woman's demand for compensation for her child's disability, but ordered the hospital to pay 131,000 shekels for harming the mother's autonomy during the birth.

"This is an important ruling which emphasizes the medical staff's responsibility to explain to patients exactly what is being done and what the options are, and to receive the patient's permission to carry out the procedure. This is true even if there are no negative complications from the procedure.

"Performing a medical procedure without explanation, in cases in which an explanation could have been given, harms the patient's autonomy and in some cases may be legally considered an attack."

Assaf Harofeh and the Health Ministry will not appeal the ruling.