The family of Sunday Mabior has won a case against WA’s Child and Adolescent Health Service.The daily struggle of caring for Sunday Mabior after she became severely brain damaged following hospital treatment for burns is something her family could never have imagined when they fled Sudan for a better life in .
Sunday was admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital with scald injuries on December 9, 2005 and two days later was in the intensive care unit, where she suffered lung failure and two heart attacks, which caused irreversible brain damage.
The WA Child and Adolescent Health Service was fighting accusations of negligence in a District Court civil trial, but Judge Anthony Derrick sided with the girl’s family on Friday.
Damages are yet to be agreed upon, but the family’s lawyer Phil Gleeson expects it to be “many millions of dollars” given Sunday has cerebral palsy.
Sunday, now aged 13, smiled as she sat in her wheelchair outside court surrounded by her family and supporters.
“The reason we have pursued this case is because our daughter Sunday is growing up and she always asks the reason for her disability,” the family said in a statement.
“It is appropriate for her to know what happened as she grows up.”
The family says life has been tough since 2005, with only one parents able to work because Sunday needs constant care.
“We do not see the whole of PMH as responsible for our daughter’s injures, only those who were there in ICU on the night,” the family said.
Sunday was a toddler when she fell into a bath of hot water, suffering burns to about 18 per cent of her body.
On her third day at the hospital, staff told Sunday’s family she had died, then returned moments later to say she had been revived but had brain damage and was unlikely to survive.
Judge Derrick ruled Sunday had sepsis, which evolved until the time she was transferred to the ICU, and it was a breach in the duty of care that caused her injuries.
“A reasonable person in the position of the treating doctors would have taken the reasonable and practicable precaution of administering antibiotics … given that the disadvantages of doing so if it was subsequently established that she did not have sepsis were minimal,” he said.
“By failing to recognise (the possibility of sepsis) … and by failing to administer antibiotics as quickly as was reasonably possible, the team of doctors responsible for the care and treatment of the plaintiff in the burns ward did not meet the standard of care that was required.”
Health Minister Roger Cook said it was “obviously very sad” for the family.
“We’ll work very closely with the family to make sure that they get the outcome that they feel is fair and make sure that, more importantly, we learn from the experiences of this family to continue to improve our health services,” he said.
A CAHS spokesperson said the board acknowledged the family’s distress and would review the judge’s findings.
“We recognise the continued commitment of all our staff to deliver the highest possible standard of care to our patients.”