A man has sued an Australian hospital for $1bn for letting him watch his wife give birth.
Anil Koppula, alleges that watching his wife’s caesarean section in January 2018 caused the onset of a “psychotic illness”. As a result, he sued the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne for the damages, according to court papers.
“Mr Koppula alleges that he was encouraged, or permitted, to observe the delivery, that in the course of doing so, he saw his wife’s internal organs and blood…He says that the Hospital breached a duty of care it owed to him and is liable to pay him damages,” the document says.
During the court proceedings, Mr Koppula said that in addition to causing “psychotic illness”, watching the procedure had led to the “breakdown of his marriage”.
Caesarean sections, also called C-sections, are performed in some circumstances that make vaginal delivery difficult or dangerous. They are sometimes performed if a woman is carrying more than one baby, if the baby is too big to be delivered vaginally, if the baby is in the wrong position, or if a mother or baby’s health is in danger, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
During a C-section, a woman will sometimes be given an epidural block through an injection in her spine. This will numb the lower part of her body. Sometimes general anaesthesia is used instead.
A doctor will then cut into the abdomen and uterus, open the amniotic sac, and remove the baby. From there, the umbilical cord and placenta are cut, and the mother’s uterus and abdomen are closed with stitches.
There are risks to opting for a C-section, including infection, blood clots, blood loss, and injury to the bowel or bladder.
When a woman is having a C-section, family members who are in the room with her should be cognizant of their own behaviour, according to healthcare company Banner Health, which has no connection to the lawsuit.
“While rare, some dads still may get a little queasy—even when they can’t see what’s happening,” Karleen Lee, an RN supervisor at Banner Health, said on the company’s website.
“Remember to not jump up out of your seat too quickly and let the anesthesiologist or surgery team know if you are feeling a little faint. They have ways of helping dads, whether through conversation as a distraction or with an ammonia inhalant or smelling salts to prevent fainting.”
Most babies are delivered vaginally in the US. In 2021, there were 2,486,856 vaginal deliveries and 1,174,545 caesarean deliveries, per the CDC.
Mr Koppula chose to represent himself in his case against the Royal Women’s Hospital, which claimed it did not breach a “duty of care” and that Mr Koppula did not suffer any injury as a result of his time at the facility.
The hospital requested that the court proceedings be discontinued.
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