A woman who took medical authorities to court after her son was born deaf and blind has won 2.16 million baht in compensation.
The Nonthaburi Provincial Court yesterday ordered the Medical Service Department to pay compensation for disability caused to the woman's child by medicine prescribed during her pregnancy by two of its doctors at Ratchawithi Hospital.
The court ruling was based on a lawsuit filed against the department and the doctors in 2008 after she gave birth to a baby boy who turned out to be deaf and blind.
Pinyamas Yothee, 36, claimed her son, now four years old, was born with the disabilities because of the side-effects of medicine prescribed by Praveenwan Tangtong, a doctor at Ratchawithi Hospital. She claimed Dr Preveenwan had given her Warfarin _ a drug used to prevent the formation of blood clots _ when she was five months' pregnant, despite her concerns the drug might affect her pregnancy.
Dr Thitinan Tansathit, an obstetrician at the same hospital, later assured her the pills would not harm her baby, Ms Pinyamas claimed.
She told the court she took the pills even though she was concerned by a warning on the pills' package that they were forbidden for pregnant women.
Two months after she started taking the pills, her child was found to have hydrocephalus, or water on the brain.
She gave birth to her son, Chaowarin, by caesarean section. The child suffered from blindness and deafness because his brain had been damaged during her pregnancy. "There will be no miracle cure," Ms Pinyamas said. "He needs care 24 hours a day."
Judge Yutthana Sawaisuwanwong, who read the verdict, said that despite the finding, the court found no evidence the doctors had been negligent in performing their duties.
The doctors had regularly provided check-ups for Ms Pinyamas.
Reports provided by the doctors also showed that Warfarin could be given to a mother after the third month of pregnancy.
The court acknowledged that although the doctors had insisted they had told Ms Pinyamas about the drug, they produced no evidence to substantiate their claims.
Under Section 8 of the National Health Act 2007, patients had to be informed of the side-effects of treatments, and the public health authority must be held responsible for any damage which occurs.
"Ms Pinyamas received treatment under a circumstance in which limited information was provided," Judge Yutthana said.
Ms Pinyamas would be given 2.16 million baht in compensation for her son's loss of ability to rely on himself.
That was based on the minimum 300-baht daily wage in Bangkok for the job which Ms Pinyamas had to surrender to take care of her son until he reaches the legal age of 20.
The judge added that Ms Pinyamas could claim 7.5% annual interest on the compensation, backdated to the day she filed the case.
A Medical Service lawyer, who asked not to be named, said she would study regulations before deciding whether to appeal against the verdict.
Ms Pinyamas said she was satisfied with the court ruling although she had actually demanded 22 million baht in compensation.
She had not decided if she would appeal.
"I don't want the compensation, and neither do I want the doctors to be jailed.
"I'm just doing the duty of a mother who must protect her son's rights," she said.
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Writer: Paritta Wangkiat