201705.09
0

Unprotected Chemical Exposure Claims against the Defence Forces

New unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces, made by a former Baldonnel-based air corps mechanic, have been published in the Journal.

Working conditions at the Casement Airbase in Baldonnel, County Dublin, have been the subject of investigation since unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces were made in 2015 and 2016 by former air corps personnel, and as a result of a HSA inspection in October last year.

The current investigation is looking into claims that servicemen were exposed to high levels of dichloromethane for up to twelve years despite the Defence Forces being aware of the health risks. The new unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces are potentially more serious.

According to the Journal, a “whistle-blower” has alleged air corps servicemen were not protected against exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals at Baldonnel, and as a result at least twenty former servicemen have died due to neurological and cancer-related illnesses.

The former air corps mechanic also believes that the partners of personnel based at the aerodrome have suffered fertility issues, and that their children have been born with birth defects or development issues. Five children have allegedly died due to their parents´ exposure to toxic chemicals and, the “whistle-blower” claims, many more are living with life-changing illnesses.

The Journal reports the representative association for air corps personnel – PDFORRA – has been attempting to get attitudes towards health and safety changed for many years. The association´s general secretary Gerry Rooney told the Journal: “There’s a tendency in military organisations to focus on carrying out the operation at all costs. It´s fairly clear there was a problem with chemicals and their use.”

Attempts to get comments from the Defence Forces and Department of Defence about the new unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces were unsuccessful, but Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh was heavily critical of junior Justice Minister Paul Kehoe. He told the Journal that previous chemical exposure claims had fallen on deaf ears, despite Minister Kehoe stating the health and wellbeing of members of the Defence Forces are a priority for him.

201704.26
0

Claims for Birth Defects due to taking Epilim

Claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant have been made in France on behalf of up to 4,100 children with foetal valproate syndrome.

Epilim is the trade name of an anti-epilepsy drug that uses the active ingredient sodium valproate to control electrical activity in the brain. Introduced in France in 1967, Epilim was passed for use in Ireland in 1983, and is now also often prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, migraine and chronic pain.

At the time it was introduced into Ireland, claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant were being investigated in France. It was alleged that the sodium valproate entered the bloodstream as valproic acid, which caused foetal congenital and development issues.

The evidence of birth defects due to taking Epilim was considered inconclusive, and the drug continued to be prescribed to pregnant mothers. It was only in 2006 that the manufacturers of the drug – Sanofi – warned that sodium valproate may have adverse effects and advised the medical profession to advise pregnant mothers of the potential risks.

Research conducted several years later by France´s social affairs inspectorate – IGAS – found the majority of doctors and pharmacists were unaware of the risks associated with Epilim. The research prompted the inspectorate to conduct a small scale study in the Rhone-Alpes region last year, where a much higher than expected rate of birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant was discovered.

France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) looked deeper into the issue and researched the health of 8,701 children born between 2007 and 2014 whose mothers were known to have taken Epilim during their pregnancies. ANSM identified up to 4,100 children suffering from foetal valproate syndrome and discovered hundreds of Epilim-related stillbirths.

ANSM´s study has resulted in the families of those affected by the adverse effects of sodium valproate to form a class action in order to jointly make claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim. The families claim that Sanofi did not do enough to adequately inform the medical profession of the risks associate with the drug. It also claims the drug manufacturer failed to put adequate warning on its packaging.

In Ireland, the Disability Federation has called on the government to conduct an audit of children diagnose with foetal valproate syndrome. The organisation claims the scale of the problem in Ireland should be identified in order that adequate support measures are provided for families. If a member of your family has been affected by foetal valproate syndrome, and you would like to know more about claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant, you should speak with a solicitor.

201606.13
1

UN Says State should Allow Terminations for Fatal Foetal Abnormalities

The United Nations´ Human Rights Committee has said that Ireland should revise the Eighth Amendment to allow terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities.

Under Ireland´s current abortion laws, the right to life of an unborn child is protected by the Eighth Amendment. New laws were introduced in 2013 to allow abortions when the mother´s health is at risk, but a ban remains on terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities and inevitable miscarriages, and when a pregnancy is attributable to rape or incest.

Due to the ban on terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities, 21-weeks pregnant Amanda Mellet was forced to travel to the UK for a termination after being told that her unborn child would die in the womb or shortly after birth. Amanda endured a traumatic experience due to there being little information available to her before undergoing the procedure and no bereavement support available to her on her return to Ireland.

After founding the organization “Termination for Medical Reasons” in order to campaign for a change to the law, Amanda made a complaint to the United Nations´ Human Rights Committee through the Centre for Reproductive Rights – claiming that Ireland´s ban on terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities was discriminatory, cruel, inhuman and degrading.

Last week the Committee found in Amanda´s favour – saying that Amanda´s physical and emotional well-being had been jeopardised by Ireland´s position on terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities, that Amanda had been subjected to unnecessary financial and emotional suffering, and that the State should compensate her for failing to allow an abortion “in the familiar environment of her own country and under the care of health professionals whom she knew and trusted.”

The Human Rights Committee also said that Ireland should introduce laws – or revise the Eighth Amendment as necessary – in order to provide “effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland, and take measures to ensure that healthcare providers are in a position to supply full information on safe abortion services without fearing being subjected to criminal sanctions.”

Speaking after the decision of Human Rights Committee had been announced, Leah Hoctor – the European Regional Director for the Centre for Reproductive Rights – said: “The Irish Government must now comply with this ruling, redress the harm Ms Mellet suffered and reform its laws to ensure other women do not continue to face similar violations.”

201605.03
0

Final Delayed Delivery Compensation Settlement Approved in Court

A final delayed delivery compensation settlement has been approved in the High Court in favour of a sixteen-year-old girl who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Mary Malee was born at the Mayo General Hospital on 11th October 1999 after becoming distressed in the womb. Due to there being no consultant available to assist with the birth, Mary´s delivery was avoidably delayed by eighty minutes. By the time she was delivered by emergency Caesarean section, Mary had sustained brain damage due to a lack of oxygen and she now suffers from cerebral palsy.

Mary´s mother – Maura Malee from Swinford, County Mayo – claimed a delayed delivery compensation settlement from the Health Service Executive, alleging that there had been a failure by the Mayo General Hospital to ensure that a paediatrician was present after a deceleration of the foetal heart rate had been identified, and that the hospital´s negligence had led to the failure to deliver Mary in a timely manner.

In March 2014, an interim delayed delivery compensation settlement of €1.5 million was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine, who then adjourned the case for two years to allow for the introduction of a structured settlement system. As no system for the phased payment of compensation to catastrophically injured claimants has yet been introduced, Mary and her family returned to the High Court to hear the approval of a final delayed delivery compensation settlement.

At the hearing a statement was read to Mary by representatives of the Mayo General Hospital, who apologised for “the many challenges that you have faced as a result of the treatment provided to your mother Maura at the time of your birth” and who told Mr Justice Peter Kelley that a final delayed delivery compensation settlement of €5.56 million had been agreed with the family.

After hearing from Mary that “the stress of ongoing engagement with the HSE and the courts is not what I want”, the judge approved the final delayed delivery compensation settlement. Judge Kelly also described Mary as “heroic” for the challenges she has overcome so far in her life and commended her for her ambition to become an advocate for people with disabilities.

201509.26
2

Compensation Awards made by the High Court under Attack

A representative of the motor insurance industry has claimed that judges need educating about who pays for compensation awards made by the High Court.

The attack on compensation awards made by the High Court was made by Conor Faughan from AA Ireland, who was responding to the news that the average value of High Court personal injury settlements had increased from €227,000 in 2013 to €304,000 last year.

Mr Faughan said there was a need for judges to be educated so that they would understand that compensation awards made by the High Court are paid for by the country´s two million drivers. Although not strictly true (few road traffic accident claims are resolved in the High Court), Mr Faughan pointed out that the average value of assessments conducted by the Injuries Board had remained steady during the same period at around €22,600.

It has also been suggested that the increase in the average value of compensation awards made by the High Court could be due to changes made under the Courts and Civil Law Act 2013, which saw the minimum potential compensation level at which cases would be heard by the High Court from €38,092 to €60,000. Some observers believe that High Court judges are awarding a minimum compensation settlement of €60,000 when – prior to the increase – they would have awarded less.

Dorothea Dowling – founding chairperson of the Injuries Board, and the chair of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board – believes that plaintiffs are shunning Injuries Board assessments for higher compensation awards made by the High Court. Ms Dowling told the Independent: “The Department of Justice was forewarned well in advance. This is what happens when you increase the limits of the lower courts – it sends out the message that €38,000 is small money.”

Whereas Ms Dowling has a point, it is not a point that everybody shares. Earlier this year (In McGarry v McGarry) Mr Justice Bernard Barton criticised the government for not updating the injury compensation values published in the Book of Quantum since 2004. During the case, Judge Barton acknowledged that for all practical purposes the Book of Quantum was being ignored by the courts because it was so out of date and commented “it is unquestionably in the interests of the proper administration of justice that the Book be reviewed and be kept updated to properly reflect [compensation awards made by the High Court]”.

201507.24
1

State Claims Agency Criticised after Settlement of Claim for Severe Birth Injuries

The mother of a brain damaged girl has criticised the State Claims Agency for delaying the settlement of her daughter´s claim for severe birth injuries.

Alex Butler (10) from Dunmore East, County Waterford, was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005, “blue and lifeless” after her delivery had been mismanaged and she had been deprived of oxygen in the womb.

Alex was resuscitated, but is tetraplegic and normally confined to a wheelchair. Only through the efforts of her parents is Alex capable of walking a few steps, but she will require full-time care for the rest of her life.

Through her mother – Sonya – Alex made a claim for severe birth injuries against the Health Service Executive (HSE), her mother´s consultant obstetrician John Bermingham, and the locum Mahmud Khbuli who had failed to identify the need for an emergency Caesarean Section when Alex´s foetal heartrate dropped.

The HSE admitted liability and the case against the two doctors was dismissed. The family received a €1.4 million interim settlement of compensation in 2013, and the claim for severe birth injuries was recently heard once again at the High Court for a final settlement to be approved.

Even though liability had been admitted and an apology read out to the family at the start of the proceedings, it took eighteen days for the State Claims Agency to agree to a €9 million final settlement of the claim for severe birth injuries – provoking Alex´s mother to describe their attitude as “disgusting”.

“They fought tooth and nail” Sonya told the press after the settlement had been approved. “They basically want Alex to have an existence, not a life. They want her to scrape by with the bare minimum rather than her having the life that she should have had.”

In response, the State Claims Agency issued a statement which read: “The State Claims Agency recognises that clinical negligence cases involve patients who have suffered enormous trauma and pain. The Agency is acutely conscious that it has a duty to act fairly, ethically and with compassion in all its dealings with these patients and their families.”

The statement concluded by attacking the lack of a structured settlement system: “The Agency has frequently stated that the current legal system for resolving medical negligence cases is not fit for purpose and has been to the forefront in introducing reforms to make the process easier for the families involved.”

201506.15
0

Is an Anembryonic Pregnancy Misdiagnosis Medical Negligence in Ireland?

An anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis is medical negligence in Ireland but your entitlement to injury compensation will depend on several factors.

An anembryonic pregnancy occurs during the early stages of pregnancy when a fertilised egg implants in the uterus, but an embryo fails to develop. This often occurs when there are too many or too few chromosomes during fertilisation, and rather than the cells developing into an embryo, a placenta and membranes, only the placenta and membranes develop – fooling the body into believing it is still pregnant, because pregnancy hormones are still being produced which prevent a miscarriage.

The first suggestions of an anembryonic pregnancy (often called a “blighted ovum”) occur during an expectant mother´s first ultrasound – when the ultrasound fails to reveal an embryo within the gestational sac. If the diagnosis of an anembryonic pregnancy is confirmed, the patient will be given the option of a dilation and curettage procedure to remove the tissue from inside the uterus, administered methotrexate to induce a miscarriage, or allowed to wait until a miscarriage occurs naturally.

The Misdiagnosis of an Anembryonic Pregnancy

An anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis can occur in many different circumstances. Most commonly an expectant mother is misdiagnosed with an anembryonic pregnancy because she has a tilted ovum, hiding the living embryo from the view of the ultrasound. Embryos in women with a tilted uterus often appear one to two weeks behind, giving the impression that the embryo has died or miscarried.

The ultrasound machine used for the scan may be faulty, or the person operating the scan may not have sufficient experience or training to detect a foetal heartbeat when the foetus is apparently underdeveloped. Indeed, in 2011, the Health Service Executive had to apologise to twenty-four women – twenty-two of whom who were diagnosed as having miscarried, and then went on to have perfectly healthy children (the remaining two only miscarried after undergoing medical procedures to remove the foetus).

Is an Anembryonic Pregnancy Misdiagnosis Medical Negligence in Ireland?

An anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis is medical negligence in Ireland when a medical practitioner has demonstrated a poor professional performance – whether a lack of skill or a failure to apply that skill. Even when the anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis is due to a faulty ultrasound machine, the medical practitioner should have sought a second opinion or second scan before misdiagnosing an anembryonic pregnancy.

Whether or not you can claim compensation for an anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis depends on what happens after the misdiagnosis. If you have been misdiagnosed with an anembryonic pregnancy – and do not undergo any procedures to remove the foetus or induce a miscarriage – and subsequently a foetal heartbeat is discovered and you ultimately give birth to a healthy child, no loss or injury has occurred and you will not be eligible for compensation for an anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis.

If you are misdiagnosed with an anembryonic pregnancy and do undergo a procedure to miscarry the foetus – and it is subsequently discovered that there was a fault with the ultrasound or that a medical practitioner has made similar misdiagnoses before, and that you may have been carrying a healthy embryo – it may be possible to claim for anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis compensation.

In order for the claim to be successful, it will have to be shown that on the balance of probabilities you would have delivered a healthy child and that the misdiagnosis was the reason for you agreeing to the termination of the pregnancy. In this scenario, you will only be able to claim for your emotional distress. The law in Ireland states that a plaintiff´s right to compensation only comes into existence when they are born, and therefore you will be unable to claim compensation for the wrongful death of your child.

201505.12
1

Health Service Medical Negligence Claims Double in Five Years

According to figures released by the State Claims Agency, health service medical negligence claims against the HSE have almost doubled within the past five years.

The State Claims Agency recently reported that last year 936 health service medical negligence claims were lodged with the High Court – almost double the number reported in 2010. In addition to the new health service medical negligence claims, the State Claims Agency is already dealing with more than 3,000 historical claims dating back to 2013 or earlier, and a further 218 claims have already been lodged this year.

However, the State Claims Agency´s figures do not tell the whole story. The 936 health service medical negligence claims fail to take into account claims issued in the District Courts and Circuit Courts, or public liability claims for accidents to hospital visitors and employer liability claims when healthcare workers have been injured working in – or on behalf of – Irish Hospitals.

The number of health service medical negligence claims could continue to rise given the recent high-profile issues with the nation´s maternity services. The damming Hiqa report into failings at the Portlaoise Hospital prompted HSE chief Tony O´Brien to call for a “clear-out of uncompassionate staff”, but Health Minister Leo Varadkar is under the impression that “wall of silence” is responsible for the substantial increase in health service medical negligence claims.

Minister Varadkar has criticised an “open disclosure” initiative implemented in 2013 by the HSE and State Claims Agency. The initiative was failing to work the Minister said because hospital managers were failing to engage with patients who had a negative experience in Irish hospitals, and the patients were going to the courts to get answers to what went wrong.

“When something goes wrong, it’s OK to say that you’re sorry about what happened”, the minister commented. “It does not mean you’re accepting liability. There is a never a good reason to conceal the truth from a patient or their family once the facts are known. Aside from making sense from a human point of view, it’s the right thing to do financially”.

New legislation is being drawn up by the Department of Health to reinforce the policy of open disclosure so that healthcare workers can provide information to patients and their families without prejudicing future health service medical negligence claims. While the legislation is being drawn up, the number of outstanding health service medical negligence claims continues to increase.

201504.15
0

Guidelines Could Prevent More Syntocinon Birth Injury Claims

The State Claims Agency has said that a consistent set of guidelines should be compiled for birth-inducing drugs to prevent more Syntocinon birth injury claims.

Syntocinon is the brand name in Ireland of oxytocin – a synthetic drug that is frequently used in maternity wards to induce labour and accelerate contractions. The benefits of Syntocinon are that the drug reduces the time spent in labour, prevents excessive bleeding and helps the womb to contract after childbirth.

However, when Syntocinon is administered, both mother and child need careful monitoring to observe any signs of an adverse reaction or foetal distress. Oxytocin is one of the top ten “high-alert medications” in hospitals, and the death of four babies at the Portlaoise Hospital has been attributed to the lack of adequate monitoring.

Children who survive the accelerated contractions have been known to suffer brain damage, and among a series of recent Syntocinon birth injury claims was one in February this year, in which an interim settlement of birth injury compensation amounting to €2.32 million was approved by the High Court.

The State Claims Agency – the authority that pays out when Syntocinon birth injury claims are resolved – recently conducted a study into the use of oxytocin in Irish hospitals, which showed that there is a lack of consistency in how the drug is administered and how the health of mothers and their babies is monitored.

The report revealed that staff at one maternity unit had no guidance on the drug´s use and that at another staff had to refer to a checklist. Thirteen hospitals had similar guidelines – although not entirely consistent, five hospitals had introduced protocols, three had introduced procedures and six relied on policies. Two of the hospitals provided no guidance at all on the monitoring of mothers and babies, and one failed to advise nursing staff on the dosage of oxytocin that should be administered.

Mary Godfrey – the clinical risk advisor at the State Claims Agency – said that the results of the survey were alarming and called for a consistent set of guidelines to be compiled for all birth-inducing drugs to improve outcomes for mothers and babies, and to prevent more Syntocinon birth injury claims being made against the state.

However Ms Godfrey failed to comment on an important area of the report which revealed “No service obtains explicit written consent from women prior to starting them on the drug.” Informed consent is a vital issue for the State Claims Agency to address if it genuinely wishes to prevent more Syntocinon birth injury claims.

201502.18
0

Interim Settlement of a Cerebral Palsy Claim Approved

An interim settlement of a cerebral palsy claim against the Kerry General Hospital has been approved in court in favour of a three–year-old girl.

Skye Worthington was born at the Kerry General Hospital on April 22nd 2011 after her mother – Colleen – had been administered with syntocinon to accelerate her labour. Colleen´s contractions thereafter became very strong, but a prolonged deceleration of Skye´s heartbeat went unnoticed and the baby was starved of oxygen in the womb.

Due the brain damage she suffered at her birth, Skye – now three years of age – now suffers from cerebral palsy. She has to be fed through a tube and can only communicate with her eyes. An investigation into the circumstances of her delivery revealed that if Skye had been born fifteen minutes earlier, she would have suffered no injury at all.

Through her mother, Skye made a cerebral palsy claim against the Kerry General Hospital – alleging that, were it not for the negligence of the maternity staff, she would not have suffered a devastating birth injury. The hospital and HSE admitted liability and an interim settlement of the cerebral palsy claim was agreed pending an assessment of Skye´s future needs.

At the High Court, Skye´s patents and Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard a statement read to the court in which the HSE South/South-West Hospital Group and the maternity department of Kerry General Hospital apologised unreservedly for the errors that led to Skye´s birth injuries – an apology which Mr Justice Kevin Cross described as “out of the ordinary and very meaningful”.

The judge then explained to Skye´s parents that he was approving a €2.52 million interim settlement of the cerebral palsy claim and adjourning Skye´s case for three years. This meant that once the assessment of Skye´s needs had been completed, they could either request a lump sum final settlement of the cerebral palsy claim or – subject to legislation being introduced – annual periodic payments.

201412.15
0

Judge Denies Lump Sum Compensation Settlement

A High Court judge has denied a plaintiff a lump sum compensation settlement, saying that it would be catastrophic if he approved it and the money ran out later.

The plaintiff – Connor Corroon from Mallow in County Cork – had made his appeal to the High Court for a lump sum compensation settlement having twice previously received interim payments of compensation for birth injuries due to negligence.

Connor was born at the Cork City General Hospital in 1995 with cerebral palsy after having been deprived of oxygen in the womb. Now 19 years of age, Connor is permanently disabled, confined to a wheelchair and cannot speak.

Through his mother – Judith – Connor successfully made a claim for compensation against the hospital in 2010 and was awarded an interim settlement of €1.6 million. A second interim payment of compensation amounting to €475,000 was made last year while reports were being conducted into Connor´s future requirements.

Prior to this hearing, Judith had asked the court of her son´s behalf to approve a lump sum compensation settlement on the grounds that Connor had undergone more than twenty assessments in preparation for return visits to court, and that she wanted her son to be able to get on with his life and not have to continually undergo assessments.

However, at the High Court, Mr Justice Bernard Barton denied the application for a lump sum compensation settlement – stating that it would be catastrophic if the court authorised a final payment and the funds ran out. Instead, the judge approved a further interim payment of €1.45 million and adjourned Connor´s claim for another five years.

The judge explained his decision to the family by informing them that he – along with other judges presiding over this type of case – had just received a consultation paper from the Department of Justice relating to legislation for the introduction of structured periodic payments. A proposed Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill was hoped to be passed this year, but could become legislation within the next few months.

201411.06
0

Government Announces New Symphysiotomy Redress Scheme

The government has announced a new symphysiotomy redress scheme to compensate women who underwent symphysiotomy and pubiotomy procedures between the 1940s and 1980s.

Almost a year after the government´s U-turn on extending the Statute of Limitations for women who had undergone symphysiotomies and pubiotomies during childbirth, a new redress scheme has been announced for the estimated 350 survivors of the procedures.

The new symphysiotomy redress scheme consists of a three-tier compensation package which will pay damages to the survivors depending on the level of injury they sustained:

  • Women who can demonstrate that they underwent a symphysiotomy are entitled to recover €50,000.
  • Women who suffered significant disability as the result of a symphysiotomy will be able to claim €100,000
  • Women who underwent a symphysiotomy after giving birth by Caesarean Section are entitled to €150,000

Former High Court Judge Maureen Harding-Clark has been appointed to assess each claim and, to qualify for the new symphysiotomy redress scheme, victims have to apply before Friday 5th December (In exceptional circumstances, Judge Harding can extend the deadline by a further 20 working days).

Once a claim for symphysiotomy compensation is made, the women have twenty days to accept it; however, under the new symphysiotomy scheme, in order to receive the payment, the claimant must give up any High Court action that is in progress.

Currently there are more than 150 claims for symphysiotomy compensation before the High Court and, according to Marie O’Connor – chairwoman of Survivors of Symphysiotomy group – two dates for High Court hearings have already been fixed.

Ms O´Connor is not happy with the new symphysiotomy redress scheme and claims that the short time limit makes it “impossible for women to seek independent advice and to make a considered decision”. She recommends that the victims of symphysiotomy speak with a solicitor, apply for the maximum amount they entitled to under the redress scheme and continue with their legal action.

Mark Kelly – Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties – also expressed his displeasure with the proposals for symphysiotomy compensation. He said that the redress scheme falls short of what is required under Ireland´s human rights obligations.

Following a complaint by the Survivors of Symphysiotomy group to a UN Human Rights Committee earlier this year, Mr Kelly said the committee recommended that the “perpetrators of symphysiotomy” should be brought to justice and the victims should receive “fair and adequate compensation and rehabilitation on an individual basis”.

Mr Kelly alleges that the new symphysiotomy redress scheme fails to meet the criteria of the UN Human Rights Committee on two counts – that it does not address compensation on an individual basis, and that payments made under the redress scheme are made without admission of liability by the state.

201410.07
0

HSE Investigates Death of Baby Born at Mullingar Hospital

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has launched an investigation into the death of a baby born at the Mullingar Hospital in County Westmeath in August.

A spokesperson for the HSE confirmed that an investigation is being conducted into the death of the unnamed baby; who was born on 16th August at the Mullingar Hospital, but who died six days later after being transferred to the neo natal unit of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin.

Few details have been released about the investigation, although the spokesperson also confirmed that the parents of the child were involved in what the HSE are referring to as an “incident”. The spokesperson said that “The HSE incident policy is being followed and a full and thorough investigation into this tragic event has commenced”.

While few details have been released into the death of the baby born at the Mullingar Hospital, a similar investigation is being conducted at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise – a hospital within the same group – where seven babies are now believed to have suffered a perinatal death due to negligence since 2006.

An initial investigation into the level of care at the Portlaoise Hospital found serious failings in the hospital´s maternity unit and prompted an apology from the Department of Health to the parents who had lost babies. The current investigation is being conducted by the Health and Information Quality Authority (Hiqa) and includes medical experts from both Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The HSE spokesperson added that the hospital extends its sympathy to the family following the death of their baby born at the Mullingar Hospital.

201409.24
0

Compensation for Teenager´s Birth Injury Approved in Court

A settlement of compensation for a teenager´s birth injury has been approved in court after a judge agreed it would be difficult to prove full liability.

Emma O´Donnell (16) from Aklow in County Wicklow was born at the National Maternity Hospital on 9th June 1998. Hours after her birth by suction, Emma started to have seizures and turned blue. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and has been cared for solely by her father – James Forde – since her natural mother was institutionalised in 2007 suffering from a significant bi-polar condition.

Emma needs round-the-clock care, suffers from an intellectual disability and has behavioural problems. On her behalf, James Forde made a claim for compensation for a teenager´s birth injury, but encountered difficulties establishing causation between the treatment Emma had received and negligence before and after her birth.

Emma´s solicitors had attempted to recover €9 million in compensation for the teenager´s birth injury, but the hospital and Health Service Executive placed value on the claim at €6 million – and only then if full proof of negligence could be established. Eventually a compromise was agreed in which the claim would be settled for €3 million provided it was approved by a judge.

Consequently, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns was told the tragic case of Emma´s life to date. He heard that the case had been brought so late in Emma´s life due to difficulties with liability and that the hospital had provided a letter of consent to a settlement of compensation for a teenager´s birth injury amounting to €3 million.

Judge Kearns agreed with Emma´s solicitors that it would be a hard case to prove if the claim went to a full hearing, and he approved the settlement of compensation for a teenager´s birth injury – describing the care that had been provided by James Forde as “heroic”.

201406.20
0

Interim Obstetrician Negligence Compensation Payment Approved

A High Court judge has approved a further interim payment of obstetrician negligence compensation in favour of an eight-year-old boy who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Luke Miggin of Athboy, County Meath, suffered brain damage prior his birth on 26th February 2006 at Mullingar General Hospital due to consultant obstetrician Michael Gannon failing to act on decelerations of the child´s heart rate recorded on CTG traces taken throughout the day.

Luke has cerebral palsy due to the obstetrician´s negligence, is confined to a wheelchair and will need 24-hour care for the rest of his life.

Liability for Luke´s birth injuries was admitted by Mr Gannon and the Health Service Executive in 2010 and, in January 2011, an interim settlement of obstetrician negligence compensation was approved by Mr Justice John Quirke, pending the introduction of legislation to allow for a structure settlement to be put in place.

However, with no such legislation yet available, Luke´s mother – Emily – had to return to court to have a further interim payment of obstetrician negligence compensation approved; where she was commended for her patience by Ms Justice Mary Irvine, who apologised for successive Ministers of Justice failing to deliver on their promises of periodic payments.

The judge approved a second interim obstetrician negligence compensation payment of €580,000 to add to the €1.35 million interim payment Luke received in 2011. The payment is in respect of Luke´s care for the next three years, after which time Emily Miggin will have to return to court once again for a further interim payment of compensation or to have the terms of a structured settlement approved.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine expressed her frustration at not being able to approve a final settlement of obstetrician negligence compensation, and commented that the ongoing litigation prevents families such as the Miggins from getting on with their lives.

201404.29
0

Court Approves Compensation for Delayed Delivery

The High Court has approved an interim settlement of €1.5 million compensation for the delayed delivery of a young girl who now has cerebral palsy due to the hospital´s alleged negligence.

Mary Malee (14) was born on 11th October 1999 by emergency Caesarean section at the Mayo General Hospital after there had been a delay in finding a consultant gynaecologist to assist with the delivery and an alleged breakdown in communicating her foetal distress.

As a result of the hospital´s alleged negligence, Mary is confined to a wheelchair after being born with cerebral palsy and now needs full-time support from her family. Despite her handicap, Mary is a bright and popular girl, who aims to go to university.

Mary made a compensation claim for the injuries she sustained through her mother – Maura Malee of Swinford, County Mayo – alleging that there had been a failure to intervene and perform a Caesarean section delivery in a timely manner when it became apparent that the foetus was suffering distress and likely to need resuscitation.

Mayo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE) both denied their liability for Mary´s cerebral palsy; but agreed to an interim settlement of compensation for a delayed delivery amounting to €1.5 million, with a further assessment of Mary´s needs to be conducted within two years.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that Maura Malee had attended the consultant gynaecologist who had delivered her three previous children three days before Mary was born. The gynaecologist had informed Maura that he would be unavailable for Mary´s delivery, as he was about to undergo treatment for cancer. However, he had told Maura that arrangements would be made for her to be transferred to another consultant.

Maura saw her family doctor the following day, and he told Maura to go to hospital immediately as she was showing symptoms of pre-eclampsia. Maura was admitted to Mayo General Hospital and transferred to the labour ward, where she underwent a CTG shortly before 6:00am which revealed a series of decelerations.

The first consultant that was called was unavailable to attend Mary´s birth, and second consultant arrived shortly before 7:00am. Allegedly there was a failure to communicate the severity of Maura´s condition, and the Caesarean delivery did not take place until after 7:20am.

In court, after Mary had read out a statement in which she commented “It would have been appreciated had the HSE/Mayo General Hospital said they were sorry”, Judge Irvine approved the interim settlement of compensation for a delayed delivery and adjourned the case.

201403.05
0

Judge Resolves Claim for Hospital´s Lack of Care after Birth

A judge has resolved a forty-year-old woman´s claim for a hospital´s lack of care after the birth of her child which resulted in a significant loss of blood due to haemorrhaging.

Honey Larkin brought her claim for a hospital´s lack of care after the birth of her child following the events of January 2008 at the Letterkenny General Hospital in County Donegal.

Honey had given birth to her final child by Caesarean section, but started haemorrhaging heavily while in recovery. Honey claimed in her action against consultant gynaecologist Eddie Aboud and the Health Service Executive (HSE) that she had a near-death experience due to the loss of blood while she was waiting for the hospital to arrange a further surgery to stop the bleeding.

Honey – who also comes from Letterkenny in County Donegal – claimed that neither the staff at the hospital nor Mr Aboud checked for indications of bleeding after the Caesarean operation; and when the cause of her distress was acknowledged the hospital failed to act appropriately within a reasonable timeframe. The result, Honey claimed, is that she now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Both Mr Aboud and the HSE contested Honey´s claim for the hospital´s lack of care after the birth of her child; entering the defence that she was treated appropriately throughout and after the Caesarean procedure, and in a timely manner once staff raised the alarm about the haemorrhage. Consequently the case went to the High Court and was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the hearing, Judge Cross was told that no internal haemorrhaging had been apparent when Mr Aboud had finished the Caesarean operation; but, when he was called back to attend to Honey, he performed the second operation quickly and successfully. Judge Cross said he felt that Mr Aboud could not be held liable for any of Honey´s suffering and dismissed the gynaecologist from the case.

However, after considering the actions of the hospital once Honey´s condition had been identified, Judge Cross found that the Letterkenny General Hospital had failed in their duty of care towards her. He ordered the HSE to pay €25,000 compensation in resolution of Honey´s claim for the hospital´s lack of care after the birth of her child.

201402.21
0

HSE Admits to Errors in Care at Birth – But Fails to Apologise

The High Court has been told that the HSE should apologise for errors in care at birth that resulted in a young girl suffering from dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Grace Orchard from Carrigaline in County Cork was born on 23rd February at St Finbarr´s Maternity Hospital in Cork shortly after her mother – Deidre O´Callaghan – had been given syntocinon to help bring on contractions.

According to the evidence presented at the High Court, the drug had been administered inappropriately and, as a consequence, it took four attempts to deliver Grace – including one using a vacuum cup – before she was eventually delivered with the use of forceps.

Due to the trauma she had endured, Grace had to be resuscitated after her delivery, and her face, head and forehead were badly bruised due to the force that had been used. Grace was subsequently diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy was attributed at the High Court to “appalling poor handling” during her birth.

Through her mother Grace (now seven years of age) claimed compensation for errors in care at her birth against St Finbarr´s Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE admitted liability for Grace´s injuries just two weeks before a schedule court hearing was due to commence.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Daniel Herbert was told that the claim for errors in care at birth was before him to be assessed for the level of damages that should be awarded to Grace. Judge Herbert was told by Grace´s counsel that the circumstances of her birth were tragic and that the HSE were yet to apologise for the injuries she had suffered.

The Court also heard that Grace´s family had done everything they could for her after she was born – including taking her to a specialist centre in New York for physiotherapy – and that Grace had been accepted into mainstream school where she was in the first class, but the services available to her at the school are being reduced due to cut-backs.

201402.14
0

Delayed Birth Injury Compensation Approved in Court

A €4 million settlement of delayed birth injury compensation has been approved in favour of a thirteen year old girl at the High Court in Dublin.

Katie Martin from Trim in County Meath was born at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin in November 2000 after her mother – Fiona – had arrived at the hospital very early in the morning complaining of having irregular contractions.

A CTG trace was performed on the expectant mother and – according to Katie´s solicitor – the trace produced abnormal readings that indicated Katie was being starved of oxygen in the womb. However, it was nearly an hour and a half before an emergency Caesarean Section was organised and, when Katie was born, she had suffered a cardiac arrest and displayed no signs of life.

The medical team were able to resuscitate Katie, but she had suffered severe brain damage due to a lack of oxygen prior to her delivery which has left her requiring constant care for the rest of her life.

Katie made a claim for delayed birth injury compensation through her mother against the Coombe Hospital – which denied its liability for her injuries, and argued that Katie was starved of oxygen in the womb before her mother arrived at the hospital, and there was nothing that could have been done to prevent her brain damage.

However, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was informed that a €4 million settlement of compensation for a delayed birth injury had been negotiated without admission of liability from the hospital, and that the case was before her for approval of the settlement.

The judge was told the circumstances of Katie´s brain damage – and that the hospital had prepared a full defence against the claim – before approving the settlement and commenting that it was a good one considering that the Coombe Hospital had contested the claim.

201402.03
0

Perinatal Death Due to Negligence Exposed by RTE Program

An RTE Prime Time program has exposed four cases of perinatal death due to negligence at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise.

The program “Fatal Failures” featured the tale of Roisin and Mark Molloy from Tullamore in County Offaly, whose son Mark died soon after his delivery January 24th 2012. The couple fought a four-month battle to have an investigation launched into their son´s death – during which time they were fed misinformation into the circumstances of his delivery.

When an independent clinical review was subsequently concluded, it reported that “failures in the standard of care provided were casually linked to the foetal hypoxia damage that occurred [and the death of baby Mark]” – effectively that Mark had suffered an avoidable perinatal death due to negligence.

The Midland Regional Hospital issued the Molloy´s with an apology and told the couple that neonatal deaths at the hospital were extremely rare. However, by chance, Roisin Molloy heard a radio interview in which a Shauna Keyes was retelling the story of how she had lost her child at the Midland General Hospital in similar circumstances, and the two women got in touch with each other.

However, as the RTE Investigation Unit discovered, there were at least two further incidents of perinatal death due to negligence, which had been investigated internally at the hospital, but the grieving parents never been advised of the outcome. The RTE investigators also found that none of the measures that had been recommended following Mark Molloy´s death had been implemented.

Appearing in the program, Dr Philip Crowley – the National Director of Quality & Patient Safety at the Health Service Executive (HSE) – said that the delays in investigating Mark Molloy´s death and implementing procedures that would avoid perinatal death due to negligence were “lamentable” and he apologised on behalf of the HSE for the trauma the families had been through.

The Minister for Health – Dr James Reilly – also commented on the findings of the RTE investigators. Speaking on the Today radio program he said he had asked the Chief Medical Officer to conduct a further investigation into the failings of care at the hospital and described the four cases of perinatal death due to negligence as “utterly unacceptable”.

201312.03
0

Settlement of Claim for Fatal Hospital Errors Approved at Court

A family from Dromahair in County Sligo have heard the settlement of their claim for fatal hospital errors approved in the High Court following the death of Dhara Kivlehan three years ago from avoidable multiple organ failure.

On 20th September 2010, Dhara (29) was admitted to Sligo General Hospital for the delivery of her first child after having experienced painless contractions for two days. Dhara was two weeks passed her due date and, on examination, was exhibiting signs of pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure and fluid retention around her ankles (also known as oedema).

Blood taken from Dhara showed that she had abnormal kidney and liver function (a further symptom of pre-eclampsia), but no action was taken due the results of the blood tests not being communicated to Dhara´s doctors for twelve hours. The morning following her admission, Dhara gave birth to her son -Dior – by Caesarean Section and was transferred to a side room off of the main Maternity Ward.

While Dhara was in the side room, her condition started to deteriorate, but it was not until 4.45pm the following day that she was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit at Sligo General Hospital. At 11.00pm that evening, Dhara´s condition became critical and she was air-lifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast to receive specialist treatment.

Dhara died four days later due to multiple organ failure secondary to HELLP syndrome – a variant of pre-eclampsia – but, as yet, both the Belfast coroner and the Sligo coroner have declined requests to conduct a post-mortem.

Dhara´s husband – Michael – believing that the symptoms of haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and a low latelet count were not identified and treated in time to prevent his wife´s death, made a compensation claim for fatal hospital errors against the Health Service Executive (HSE) – alleging that the Sligo general Hospital had breached its duty of care and that the care provided for Dhara once she had given birth to Dior was negligent.

The HSE denied that there had been a failure in the duty of care by Sligo General Hospital in the treatment that Dhara had received, but Michael persevered with his claim, and a court hearing was scheduled to determine whether the HSE had a case to answer.

Shortly before the claim for fatal hospital errors was due to be presented in court, the HSE acknowledged that there had been shortcomings in the care provided for Dhara both before and after the birth of her son, and an €800,000 settlement of compensation for fatal hospital errors was negotiated.

At the High Court in Dublin, the family heard a statement read out to them in which the HSE apologised unreservedly for the errors that had been made which led to Dhara´s death and offered their condolences to Michael and Dior.

Following the apology, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement of compensation for fatal hospital errors, and also used the opportunity to criticise the HSE for “holding out until almost the bitter end” before admitting liability, and consequently causing the Kivlehan family unnecessary distress.

201311.26
0

Interim Payment of Compensation for Cerebral Palsy Approved

A High Court judge has approved an interim payment of cerebral palsy compensation for a 12 year old girl who sustained birth injuries due to the negligence of an obstetric consultant.

Roisin Conroy was born at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portloaise on 14th November 2001, four days after her mother – Mary Conroy of Portlaoise, County Laois – had attended the hospital, believing that her waters had broke. Mary was sent home after being reassured that everything was okay but, three days after attended the clinic of Dr John Corristine – her private consultant obstetrician – and, following an ultrasound at the clinic, Mary insisted she be admitted into hospital.

A CTG scan conducted at the hospital failed to indicate any sign of contractions, and Mary was advised to take a bath. However, there was insufficient hot water was available at the hospital so Dr Corristine prescribed Mary with some medicine to induce labour. Thereafter, Dr Corristine was not present during Mary´s labour or Roisin´s birth the next day.

When Roisin was born the following morning, she suffered seizures soon after her birth and was transferred to a neo-natal unit in Dublin. However, her condition failed to improve and Roisin was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy – due to which she is permanently disabled and can only communication using eye movement.

Mary blamed herself for Roisin´s condition, and insisted on having her next two children delivered by Caesarean Section. Both Mary and her husband Kevin gave up work to look after Roisin, believing what the hospital had told them that nothing could have been done to avoid the tragedy and that the couple had just been unlucky.

An investigation was launched into the circumstances Roisin´s birth after the couple had spoken with a solicitor and, with evidence of negligence against both the hospital and the obstetric consultant, Kevin and Mary made a claim for cerebral palsy against both the Health Service executive (HSE) and Dr Corristine on their daughter´s behalf.

Both the defendants denied their responsibilities for Roisin´s injuries for almost two years until – five weeks before a scheduled court hearing – the hospital and Dr Corristine admitted that errors had been made in the management of Mary´s pregnancy which led to Roisin suffering birth injuries.

An interim payment of compensation for cerebral palsy amounting to €2.3 million was negotiated between the parties and, at the High Court in Dublin, the interim payment of compensation for cerebral palsy was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

The family also heard an apology read to them by an HSE representative and Dr Corristine, after which Ms Justice Mary Irvine adjourned the case for two years so that an assessment of Roisin´s future needs can be made and to allow time for the introduction of a system of structured compensation payments.

201310.11
0

Teenager Resolves Claim for Foetal Injuries in a Car Crash

A teenage girl, who was born prematurely two days after her pregnant mother was involved in a road traffic accident and suffered respiratory distress syndrome as a result, has had a claim for foetal injuries in a car crash resolved at the Circuit Civil Court.

Martina Sheehan from Rathfarnham in Dublin had been driving the family car along Templeroan Road in Rathfarnham in April 1999, when she was in collision with a car driven by Elaine O’Connor also from Rathfarnham.

Although neither driver was injured in the accident, the shock of the collision allegedly resulted in Martina going into labour at thirty-six weeks, and two days later delivering a daughter – Aoife – at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

Aoife immediately suffered from respiratory distress syndrome and she was transferred to the neo-natal intensive care unit, where she placed on a ventilator and given medication to assist with her breathing. She remained in the neo-natal intensive care department for a further three weeks – critically ill.

Through Martina Sheehan, Aoife (now 14 years of age) made a claim for foetal injuries in a car crash on the grounds that, had the accident not occurred, Martina would have not have gone into labour so early, Aoife would not have been born prematurely and suffered respiratory distress syndrome.

The insurance company representing Elaine O´Connor denied their policyholder´s liability for Aoife´s injuries – claiming there was no proof that the accident was responsible for the early onset of labour, Aoife´s premature birth and her breathing difficulties as pre-term babies were more pre-disposed to respiratory distress.

However, solicitors representing Martina and Aoife persevered with the claim for foetal injuries in a car crash and, as Judge Matthew Deery heard at the Circuit Civil Court was told, a negotiated settlement had been agreed that would see Aoife receive €17,800 in compensation for her pre-birth injuries.

The judge approved the settlement, stating that it was a good one in the circumstances, and ordered that Aoife´s compensation be paid into court funds, where it will remain until she reaches the age of eighteen.

201306.07
0

Court Approves Interim Cerebral Palsy Compensation Settlement

An interim cerebral palsy compensation settlement has been approved in the High Court for a thirteen-year-old boy who sustained irreversible brain damage during his birth.

Ryan Brennan from Cahir in County Tipperary was born at St. Joseph´s Hospital in Clonmel in January 2000; hours after abnormalities had been discovered in the foetal heart rate tracing. Following his delivery, Ryan had to be resuscitated and later in the day suffered seizures.

It was claimed by Ryan´s parents – Lorraine and Raymond – that Ryan suffered irreversible brain damage and cerebral palsy due to a failure to act by the hospital´s consultant obstetrician – Dr Brendan Powell – and that Ryan´s injuries could have been avoided if staff at the hospital had acted with greater diligence.

On behalf of their son, the Brennans made a claim for cerebral palsy compensation against Dr Powell and the Health Service Executive (HSE) for alleged negligence, breach of duty and breach of contract.

The two defendants denied responsibility for Ryan´s injuries but, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that an interim cerebral palsy compensation settlement of €1.7 million had been agreed with the HSE without admission of liability and that the claim against Dr Powell could be struck out.

The interim settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy is for two years to allow for reports on Ryan´s future needs to be conducted and to allow for the possible introduction of a periodic payment system. After commenting that the settlement was ‘in the upper parameters of these types of cases’, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement.

201305.15
0

Compensation for Catastrophic Birth Injuries Approved in Court

An interim payment of compensation for catastrophic birth injuries has been approved in the High Court for a ten-year-old boy who suffers from severe dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

In February, the Coombe Hospital was found liable in a catastrophic birth injury claim brought against it by Dr Fiona Murphy of Malahide, County Dublin, on behalf of her son Eoin.

Eoin had been delivered at the hospital in July 2002 suffering from near total acute hypoxic ischaemia, but was not ventilated until seventeen minutes later because a paediatric registrar was not available at the time. As a consequence of the avoidable delay, Eoin´s brain was starved of oxygen and he now suffers from dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

After finding the Coombe Women’s and Infants’ University Hospital liable for Eoin´s injuries, Ms Justice Mary Irvine adjourned the case in February for the assessment of damages, and  yesterday the family were back in court to hear Mr Justice Michael Moriarty approved an interim settlement of compensation for catastrophic birth injuries amounting to €2.9 million.

The settlement is intended to provide initial support and care for Eoin, with a further hearing scheduled for two years time, when a review of Eoin´s future needs will be conducted and by which time a structured compensation payment system may be in place. After approving the settlement, the judge said it had been “a harrowing, taxing and difficult case” for Eoin’s family and legal advisers.

As part of the settlement of compensation for catastrophic birth injuries, the Coombe Hospital is also to drop its Supreme Court appeal against the February decision which found the hospital liable for Eoin´s injuries.

201305.04
0

Compensation Settlement for Cerebral Palsy Approved in Court

A ten-year-old boy, who alleged through his mother that he suffered foetal distress due to a hospital´s mismanagement of his birth, has had an interim compensation settlement for cerebral palsy approved at the High Court.

Jamie Patterson from Drimnagh in Dublin was born in November 2002 at the city´s Coombe Hospital after his mother – Teresa – had been administered the drug Syntocinon to help start her contractions.

However, the hospital allegedly failed to take into account that the administration of the drug could cause foetal distress without careful monitoring, and Jamie was born with cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia.

Through his mother, Jamie – who is unable to talk and can only communicate through body language and facial expressions – made a claim for cerebral palsy compensation on the grounds that Coombe Hospital failed to exercise a proper standard of care for Jamie and his mother.

The claims were denied by the hospital but, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O´Neill heard that an interim compensation settlement for cerebral palsy of €1.58 million had been agreed between Jamie´s legal representatives and the Health Service Executive.

The judge also heard that the interim compensation settlement for cerebral palsy was made without admission of liability. Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O´Neill approved the settlement – saying that it was an extremely prudent settlement – and adjourned the case for two years while an assessment is made of Jamie´s future needs.

201304.24
0

Claim for Birth Injuries due to Lack of Staff Resolved in Court

The family of a girl who suffered brain damage at her birth due to hospital obstetric negligence have had their claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff resolved at the High Court in Dublin.

Alex Butler (8) from Dunmore East, County Waterford, was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005; however, due to the hospital´s failure to have an adequate number of properly trained competent medical staff to deal with the Alex´s delivery, and to ensure that an adequate and properly competent obstetrician was available, Alex´s delivery was delayed by twelve minutes – during which time she suffered brain damage which led to permanent tetraplegic injury.

Through her mother – Sonya – Alex made a claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff at the hospital, alleging that her consultant obstetrician had been allowed to take leave at the same time as the hospital´s two other obstetricians and that the hospital had employed a locum obstetrician without ensuring that he competent. It was further claimed that Sonya´s pre-operative assessment was substandard and there was a failure to recognise the necessity for a Caesarean section.

The High Court heard that the Health Service Executive (HSE) admitted liability for Alex´s injuries, and the claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff against the consultant obstetrician – John Bermingham – and locum obstetrician – Mahmud Khbuli – were dismissed. A representative from Waterford read out an apology for the mismanagement of Alex´s birth and accepted that the mistakes that were made should never have happened.

The Court also heard that an interim settlement of Alex´s claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff amounting to €1.4 million had been agreed upon between the HSE and Alex´s parents. The compensation settlement is to be reviewed again in two years when an assessment of Alex´s care needs for the future has been made, and by which time it is hoped that the option of a structured settlement is available.

201303.12
0

Woman Awarded Compensation for Injuries from Symphysiotomy

A woman, who underwent a symphysiotomy procedure at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in 2000, has been awarded €591,297 compensation for injuries from symphysiotomy by the High Court.

Tracey Nelson (45) from Navan in County Meath underwent the procedure prior to the delivery of her second child, when medical staff at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda failed to correctly diagnose the symptoms of symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD).

After suffering for many years with the physical discomfort from the symphysiotomy, Tracey underwent surgery in 2004 to stabilise her condition and again, in 2007, had to have a spinal cord stimulator fitted – since when Tracey has been relatively free of pain.

However, as Tracey related to Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill at the High Court, she has also suffered emotionally due to the negligence of the medical staff who failed in their duty of care to manage her pregnancy.

Tracey told the court she had developed fibromyalgia – where she had constant pain in her muscles and joints – and due to the pain, started to drink alcohol heavily. This resulted in the break-up of her marriage and, in turn, to depression.

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital denied their liability for Tracey´s injuries, but Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill ruled that he was satisfied from the medical evidence there was a failure to diagnose SPD on February 2nd when Tracey attended the hospital complaining of pain in the pelvic area.

The judge said there was no doubt that the “primary cause” of Tracey´s physical and psychological injuries was the negligence of the HSE and “terrible consequences” of it. “I am quite satisfied that the failures in this regard fell substantially below the standard of care to be expected of doctors practising obstetrics in a maternity unit such as Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda,” he said.

Awarding Tracey €591,297 in compensation for injuries from symphysiotomy, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill said that he was also satisfied the doctors and midwives who attended Ms Nelson were “oblivious” to her SPD condition and consequently took no precautions to prevent the risk of avoidable injury during the course of her labour.

201302.08
0

High Court Awards Compensation for a Failed Sterilisation

The High Court has awarded a mother €100,000 compensation for a failed sterilisation after the son she was never supposed to give birth to died after only six months of life.

Karen Hurley-Ahern (41) from Newcastlewest, County Limerick, underwent the sterilisation procedure in February 2001 after discovering from her GP that she had a rare blood-clotting disorder that would pose a risk to herself and her unborn child if ever she were to fall pregnant again.

The operation was performed by gynaecologist Dr Victor Moore at the Tralee General Hospital in County Kerry, but in April 2002 Karen fell pregnant again and, after a difficult pregnancy, gave birth to baby Samuel on 10th October 2002 – six weeks early and by emergency Caesarean section.

Samuel suffered from severe abnormalities which were unrelated to Karen´s sterilisation procedure, and remained in hospital for six months – kept alive by a series of life -support machines. In April 2003, Samuel suffered a severe heart attack and Karen and her partner – Garrett Ahern – made the painful decision to switch off the life-support machines.

After seeking legal advice, Karen and Garrett made a claim for failed sterilisation compensation against Dr Moore and the Southern Health Board (now the Health Service Executive), for the suffering and trauma the couple had been through due to the unsuccessful procedure.

Dr Moore and the HSE denied liability – claiming that the procedure had been performed correctly and the couple had been warned that there was a risk of failure. However, in the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Sean Ryan found in favour of the now-separated claimants – acknowledging that Samuel´s disability was not a consequence of the failed sterilisation procedure, but stating that Karen had suffered to a significant extent due to the defendant´s negligence.

Awarding Karen €100,000 compensation for a failed sterilisation, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said that the award of compensation was in respect of the worry she had experienced when she discovered she was pregnant, the pain of childbirth, the distress of Samuel´s condition and distress after his death. However, no award was made to Garrett as – according to Mt Justice Sean Ryan – while he had undoubtedly endured emotional anguish, there was no proof Garrett had suffered a defined psychiatric injury.

201302.04
0

Coombe Hospital Liable in Catastrophic Birth Injury Claim

A High Court judge has found the Coombe Women´s Hospital in Dublin negligent in a catastrophic birth injury claim brought against it by a ten-year-old boy.

The claim for catastrophic birth injury compensation was made by Fiona Murphy of Malahide, County Dublin, on behalf of her son Eoin (10) following the events of his birth on 12th July 2002.

Eoin had been born suffering from near total acute hypoxic ischaemia which an investigation into the catastrophic birth injury claim determined had begun two or three minutes before he was delivered.

However, rather than resuscitating Eoin within minutes of his birth, a delay of seventeen minutes occurred due to a paediatric registrar not being available and, as a consequence, Eoin sustained irreversible brain damage and now suffers from severe dyskinetic cerebral palsy .

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said that, had the hospital acted with reasonable care for Eoin’s welfare, there was no reason why he should not have been effectively ventilated by the time he was nine minutes old which would have prevented his injuries from occurring.

Finding the Coombe Women’s and Infants’ University Hospital liable for Eoin´s injuries, the judge said “the delay was unacceptable and the hospital was negligent in failing to ensure the child received the type of intubation and ventilation mandated in the first 10 minutes of his life”.

Eoin´s catastrophic birth injury claim has now been adjourned for the assessment of damages.

UPDATE May 2013: Eoin was awarded an interim settlement of €1.9 million in compensation for catastrophic birth injuries in May 2013, with his case adjourned for a further two years when a review of his future requirements will be conducted.