OLG Oldenburg, Judgment of 13.11.2019 – 5 U 108/18
500,000 euros compensation for pain and suffering for birth injury after confusion of heartbeat
In its judgment of 13 November 2019 (case number 5 U 108/18), the 5th civil senate of the OLG Oldenburg awarded 500,000 euros in damages for pain and suffering to a now 8-year-old girl from the district of Gütersloh and found that the defendant clinic from the district of Osnabrück and the defendant doctor are also obliged to compensate the girl for all pecuniary loss that she has suffered or will suffer in the future as a result of the medical errors on the occasion of her birth.
The girl suffered severe brain damage as a result of an oxygen deficiency before birth; she is severely disabled and will always be dependent on outside help throughout her life.
The damage had occurred because the child’s heart rate had dropped very sharply about 45 minutes before delivery; during this period, however, the CTG did not record any heartbeat, neither that of the child nor that of the mother, for about 10 minutes; when after 10 minutes a heartbeat with a normal rate could be recorded again in the CTG, the doctors assumed that this was the child’s heartbeat and that it had recovered. In fact, it was the mother’s heartbeat. By the time the mistake was realised, the plaintiff had already been severely damaged by the lack of oxygen.
This procedure constitutes a gross treatment error, according to the senate with reference to the corresponding statements of the court expert. In view of the suspicion of a drop in the child’s heart rate, the attending physicians should have convinced themselves in another way that the child was well, e.g. by means of a so-called scalp electrode; under no circumstances should they have been satisfied with an inconclusive CTG for a period of 10 minutes in view of the threatening situation.