A BUSINESSMAN whose wife has been in a semi-vegetative state since giving birth to their son three years ago is suing the National University Hospital and a senior consultant for alleged negligence.
Singaporean Chandru Vishindas, 35, is seeking damages, claiming both breached their duty of care to Madam Pooja Baharani Ghansham during the delivery, which led to her current condition as well their son Ryan's brain injuries and disabilities.
Mr Vishindas claims his son should have been delivered via emergency caesarean section instead of instrument-assisted delivery based on 35-year-old Madam Pooja's foetal distress and labour condition.
In instrument-assisted delivery, a vacuum device or forceps is used to help the baby out.
The defendants deny the claims. In court documents filed last week, they counter that the couple were advised and consented to instrument-assisted delivery and it was likely to be a faster means than emergency caesarean section. This course was taken as Madam Pooja's condition had deteriorated during the process to induce birth.
Under scrutiny in the case is the massive bleeding she suffered, the treatment for her condition and whether she should have delivered via caesarean section.
Madam Pooja was admitted on June 20, 2012 at about 9am for the induced birth and baby Ryan was born about 14 hours later.
As she encountered severe foetal distress during the process, he was delivered with the help of instruments, which is a recognised method, other than natural delivery and caesarean section.
Ryan, who turns three on Saturday, suffered brain injuries which have left him with mixed spastic and dystonic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. He requires continuous medical assistance.
Madam Pooja suffered massive bleeding after the delivery and was sent to the operating theatre for surgery.
Her treatment by obstetric and anaesthetic teams included massive blood transfusions.
She was warded for five months and has been looked after at home since by two nurses.
In defence documents filed by Allen & Gledhill lawyer Tham Hsu Hsien, Madam Pooja's condition was caused by the complication "amniotic fluid embolism".
This can change the clotting effect of blood in the mother and lead to blood loss at various points in the body such as the uterus and brain. The patient falls into a coma when the brain has less blood and oxygen.
It was also pointed out in defence documents that Madam Pooja's other child was delivered successfully in 2007 in the same instrument-assisted way and by the same attending obstetrician and gynaecologist. NUH's lawyer Kuah Boon Theng argued that its staff had at all times acted reasonably in response to complications that developed during Madam Pooja's labour, delivery and post-delivery condition.
The family, represented by Straits Law Practice lawyer S. Palaniappan, is seeking compensation to be assessed by the court for pain and suffering to mother and son, continuing medical expenses and loss of earnings.
Mr Vishindas is understood to have spent more than $800,000 so far in providing for his wife and son. He has created a website "prayforpinky" dedicated to her.
An NUH spokesman said yesterday that the hospital has offered support to Mr Vishindas and his family and kept communication channels open. She added: "Mr Vishindas has also continued to approach the hospital and the doctor for assistance and advice, as Madam Pooja and their son remain under our care.
"We empathise with Mr Vishindas' situation, but do not agree with the allegations of negligence and have filed our defence in the suit. In view of the impending court proceedings, the hospital will not be able to comment further on this matter."
A High Court pre-trial conference is scheduled for later this month.