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€268m Compensation Pay Outs for Medical Negligence State Claims Agency in last Two Years

The overall amount of compensation handed out by the State Claims Agency (SCA) for hospital and medical negligence claims amounts to more than half a billion euro from in the last two years.

A response to a Dáil question included previously unreleased figures. Minister for Health Simon Harris provided the figures which indicate that the amount of of compensation paid out by the State Claims Agency (SCA) in 2018 was €268.45m for hospital and medical negligence cases – an increase of €18.6 million – or 7.5% – on the €249.77m paid out in 2017. This leaves the total amount of compensation for hospital and medical negligence handed over in 2017-18 to €518.2m.

The figures were released by the State Claims Agency (SCA) for a response to a Dáil Question from Michael McGrath T.D., Fianna Fáil’s Finance spokesman. It also said that the highest sum handed over in 2018 for was €15.5m to an individual suffering with cerebral palsy.

Injury compensation legal actions made in relation to birth/pregnancy negligence or cerebral palsy accounted for seven of the top ten hospital or medical negligence payouts in 2018. The figures indicate that, in the 7 cerebral palsy cases, a complete amount of €60.3m compensation was paid out in order to give adequate treatment for the people involved for the rest of their lives.

The other entries in the top ten were cases involving cluding a pay-out of €6.3 million for a clinical procedure at surgery and a separate payout of €5.9m under the same auspices.

The lowest amount handed over in the top ten was €4.37m relating to a clinical procedure in the Gynaecology service.

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Wrongful Death Trauma Compensation of €28,000 Awarded to Dead Woman’s Niece

It has been decided that largest part of a €28,000 wrongful death compensation payment it to be made to a deceased 89-year-old woman’s niece.
The woman passed away in 2009 due to a bacterial infection in 2009.

Once €7,890 for funeral expenses are accounted for the niece is to receive the should get the rest of the compensation awarded according to the decision of Judge Justice Garrett Simons. A settlement offer of €28,000 was made, and accepted, in 2015. Subsequently the High Court was then asked to decide if the offer was fair. Sadly, the deceased woman’s sister – who was a dependent, died since the offer was made. Due to this, in August 2016, the court had to come to a decision as to whether the compensation settlement should paid in its entirety to the niece.

The niece originally submitted the wrongful death compensation claim against the nursing home where her aunt had been living before her death and the Dublin hospital where she was treated just before she died. The complete compensation sum being claimed was €33,290.

The Court was told that the woman died as a result of a bacterial infection which led to diarrhoea and colitis developing. The coroner noted the official cause of death as “health care-acquired” clostridium difficile infection.

Before her death, the woman was living in a care home up until a month before her death. In October 2009, she was unwell and was taken to the Dublin hospital for some medical attention. She was sent back to the care home in early November. However, she was readmitted to the hospital on November 23 just a few hours before she died.

Her niece file the compensation claim action due to severe mental distress she suffered as a result of her aunt’s passing. The defendants refuted the claims that were made.

Judge Simons said that he believed that the step to take in this instance would be to direct the full amount of compensation to be given to the niece as sole surviving statutory dependent. He told the court that he felt the €28,000 settlement to be fair.

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Calls for Irish Government to Consider Swine Flu Vaccination Compensation Scheme

 Marc MacSharry and Clare Daly, two opposition TDs, have called on the Government to “do the right thing” and provide mediation or a redress scheme in relation the swine flu vaccine controversy where a number of those who received the vaccine suffered from serious side effects.

Mr MacSharry, a Sligo-based TD commented that the State’s dealings on this issue so far have been unacceptable and added that “the State Claims Agency (SCA) has spent over €2m rigorously defending discovery (of documents) in these cases alone”.

The Government’s inability to react to the controversy has been labelled as “extraordinary” following the release of significant international studies, including an Irish submission, which showed potential connections between Pandemrix and the sleep disorder narcolepsy.

The Government fully indemnified and approved the drug in 2009 to swiftly move it into service, the same as in many other European countries. The drug manufacturers GSK made this a precondition of producing it. The ramifications of this for the Irish taxpayer are that the State then became liable for any of the possible side effects from Pandemrix. So far the State has fully contested all compensation claims submitted in relation to the drug.

The High Court is currently hearing a major test case that could lead to another 100 further cases.

Mr McSharry TD has urged Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris to quickly bring in a round of mediation talks to those who experienced the side effects of the drug.

Along with these calls the campaign organisation Sound (Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder) said it is important that effective supports are provided to children and young adults dealing with narcolepsy due to the side effects of the drug.

Co-founder of Sound Tom Matthews said “Sound has always stated that it is not anti-vaccine, and that the Pandemrix scandal was a result of the State rushing to get whatever vaccine it could and that it was acting with the best intentions. We believe it is way past time for the State to finally step up on this issue and to fulfil the duty of care it is morally bound to provide to these children and young adults.”

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Boy Receives Compensation for Birth Injury Claim

The case of a young boy who was starved of oxygen shortly before his birth-and was left severely disabled as a result-has been settled in the High Court.

Coombe Hostpial, Dublin, has issued an apology to Eoin McCallig (four years of age) and his family, from Dunkineely in Co Donegal, for injuries the young boy sustained at birth. They further apologised for the difficult position in which it has put his family and all those who care for him. A €15 million settlement of compensation for the error has been approved in the High Court.

In response to the statement, Eoin’s father, Anthony, said the family could forgive the error. However, he further stated that they could not reconcile themselves with the way HSE treated their family and others who suffered similarly during the process of seeking compensation.

Mr McCallig feels that there must be a “better way” of handling cases involving seriosuly injured children than through litigation actions lasting years to a “bitter end” and last-minute settlement attempts. He told the High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly that something has to change to prevent other families suffering as his did.

He said that the HSE has spent €800m over the last ten years fighting these compensation cases. Mr McCallig felt that this money could be put to better use.
Mr McCallig stated that the birth injury settlement of €15m would never change what happened to Eoin, but it would provide some peace of mind for the family as they knew that Eoin would now be taken care after if anything happened to them.

The court was told that staff at the Coombe Hospital, stopped monitoring Eoin’s heart rate at 9.30am on the morning of his birth. Eoin’s parents believe that if he had been monitored after this, it would have seen he was in distress before he was deliver at around 11.30am. Due to his distress, Eoin was deprived of oxygen in the 20 minutes leading up to his delivery. This rendered him permanently disabled.

It was argued that if Eoin had been monitored and delivered earlier, he would not have suffered such catastrophic injuries. The court was told Eoin was a very smart boy, but he is unable to walk or talk. He has learned to communicate with other people using only with his eyes and facial expressions.

In a media statement released through their solicitor, Michael Boylan, Eoin McCallig’s parents said the Coombe Hospital settlement was welcome but the family “would hand this €15 million settlement back in a heartbeat if Eoin could get back what was robbed from him in those two precious hours before his birth”.

Due to Eoin being a minor, the settlement of compensation had to be approved of a High Court judge to ensure that it was in Eoin’s best interests. Mr Justice Peter Kelly approved the settlement, and wished Eoin the best for his future.

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Woman Awarded €5 Million Compensation in Medical Misdiagnosis Case

A woman who was left disabled for life as a result of a medical misdiagnosis has been awarded €5 million in compensation for her injuries.

Bernadette Surlis (60 years of age) made a misdiagnosis negligence claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE) in relation to the treatment she received at Sligo General Hospital in 2013. The claim was recently settled for a settlement of compensation of €5 million.

In November 2013, Ms Surlis attended Sligo General Hospital suffering from a headache and vomiting fits. Although staff at the facility diagnosed her with a dilated left pupil on her eye, she was designated as “category three” in triage and left to wait for treatment for another three hours.

When medical staff finally saw her, they inspected her for evidence of glaucoma. Finding none, they discharged her. However, she returned the following day when the severity of her condition was “appreciated for the first time”.

Ms Surlis, who lives at Drinaum, Strokestown in Co Roscommon was transferred to Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital on November 5 as she suffered a hemorrhage and severe/permanent injury. She now needs permanent care, and in unable to live independently. Senior Counsel, Mr Cush, said the opinion of experts was that her condition will only slightly improve over the course of her life. She is aware of the severity of her condition, and the implications that it will have on her quality of life. Ms Surlis has difficulty communicating but can do so with the assistance of her family members. Ms Surlis has three grown children and four sisters living nearby her, who shall all aid in caring for her.

In relation to the claim, Mr Cush stated that had Ms Surlis been properly and quickly diagnosed and treated in November 2013, she would not have suffered the injuries. He advised the court that liability was accepted by the HSE. Expert medical consultants stated that if she had been sent to Beaumont when she first attended the hospital in Sligo, it is likely that she could have been treated properly and made a full recovery.

Bernadette Surlis is now restricted to a wheelchair and lives in a nursing home. Mr Justice Kevin Cross was advised that the misdiagnosis negligence settlement means she may realise her wish to return home in the future.

Judge Mr Justice Kevin Cross said the medical negligence settlement was a “reasonable and very good one” and that he hopes it will lead to Ms Surlis returning to live at home.

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Young Boy Receives Brain Damage Compensation

A young boy has received compensation for brain damage he sustained before he was born after his mother was involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver.

In February 2009, while Roisin Hammel was on her way to have her final pregnancy scan before her son, Cian, was born, she was involved in a motor incident which saw her thrown from the seven-seater vehicle in which she had been travelling. The driver of the car was uninsured. The incident occurred near Manhanagh, Co. Wexford.

As a result of the accident, Cian Hammel had to be delivered by emergency Caesarean section in hospital. Due to his mother’s accident shortly before he was born, Cian was born with severe brain damage. The boy now has troubles walking and is unsteady on his feet and also has difficulties with language.

As Cian’s mother was a minor at the time of the accident (she was 17 years of age), Cian sought the Baby Injury Compensation action through his grandmother Ann, Cian Hammel of Ford Court, Kilmuckridge, Co Wexford. He sued the driver of the car, Simon Jordan, of Monaseed, High Fort, Gorey, Co Wexford.

The Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), which handles compensation claims for victims of uninsured driving, was also sued as a result of the accident.
The court was told that the car which was driven by Mr Jordan allegedly went out of control and flipped over, causing Cian’s mother, who was in a rear seat, to be flung from the vehicle. Senior Counsel Rosario Boyle told the court that Roisin, who was studying for her Leaving Cert, had accepted a lift from Simon Jordan to attend her final scan.

Additionally, it was alleged that Mr Jordan had overtaken another vehicle, despite it not being safe to do so. Forensic examination further revealed that he was driving at an excessive speed given the weather conditions. These claims were denied by the defendant.

Ms Boyle said Ms Hammel was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. However, the MIBI later acknowledged that, had she been wearing a seat belt, the consequences for Cian would not have been better.

She said Ms Hammel’s waters broke and, due to this, she had to have an emergency caesarean section in hospital due to foetal distress. Ms Hammel, counsel said, was told to prepare for the worst and when Cian was delivered. He had to be resuscitated and there was multi-organ failure shortly after he was delivered.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the baby injury compensation settlement of €7.5 million. The judge stated that he hoped it will provide for Cian’s needs for the future, and wished the family well.

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Increase of 20% Seen in Value of Compensation Claims Made Against State

Last year has prove another busy and expensive year for the State in relation to personal injury claims, as the overall amount of money paid out in compensation claims against the State rose to €2.2 billion. This represents an increase of nearly 20% in comparison to 2015.

The figures were revealed in a report released by the State Claims Agency at the end of September this year. It provides even more evidence that the cost of the compensation claims taken against the State has continued to increase.

By the end of last year the approximate cost of outstanding compensation actions against the State had grown by €400m to €2.2 billion, an increase of 22 per cent, during the 12 months of 2016.

Notable Figures from SCA’s Report
• 8,900 legal compensation actions were classified as pending against the State at the end of 2016. This figure was just 6,000 in 2011.
• A 24% increase, from the 2015 figures, in legal actions was experienced.
• There were approximately 2,300 legal actions against the State during 2016.

Alongside the above, there were several other reasons for the increase. These include a recent Supreme Court ruling, which stated that compensation sums paid to anyone who successfully sues for damages should be higher as the returns on the cash they are due to receive have fallen. This resulted in increased amounts awarded in compensation.

The State Claims Agency is the body is responsible for managing legal cases brought against the State. The State Claims Agency, established in 2001 handles personal injury, clinical negligence and property damage claims taken against State bodies. It is part of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).

The NTMA is responsible for the National Assets Management Agency (Nama) and New Era, which oversees commercial State companies.

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Medical Negligence Solicitor Urges for Medical Reform

A prominent medical solicitor has urged for medical reform while speaking at a medical negligence conference in September.

The joint Managing partner at Callan Tansey Solicitors, Roger Murray, was speaking at a medical negligence conference when he announced some shocking statistics related the medical negligence failures in Ireland. Mr Murray, legal expert, announced that around 1,000 unnecessary deaths happen annually every year due to medical negligence.

As a solicitor who has been involved in many medical negligence compensation cases, Mr Murray said that though injured patients and families do have empathy for medical professionals who make mistakes “they cannot abide is systemic and repeated errors”.

Mr Murray called for thorough investigations into the practice of the healthcare professionals when mistakes do happen. He referred to many inquest situations where families learned that desktop reviews had been completed following a death. However, results were not sent to appropriate staff, leaving the family in limbo. He called this a “vital learning opportunity that had been missed”.

Mr Murray said 160,000 hospital visitors experience injuries due to human mistakes and errors. He said that believes that there is “no compo culture” to be witnessed when it comes to medical negligence compensation actions in Ireland. He went on to claim that what we are seeing in the legal system is just “the top of a very murky iceberg”.

During his speech, he went on to say that the most commonly experienced incidents relate to surgery (36 per cent) medicine (24 per cent), maternity (23 per cent) and gynaecology (7.5 per cent). He added that he feels that not all those injured in medical incidents report it. The HSE is notified of 34,170 “clinical incidents” annually and, of these 575 resulted in compensation claims against the HSE, a rate of less than 1.7 per cent.

Mr Tansey was speaking at the Pathways to Progress conference on medical negligence, which was attended by solicitors, medical professionals and patients. The conference was held in early September.

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Woman Sues Mater Hospital in Hospital Fall Claim

A woman has made a claim against the Mater Hospital in a hospital fall claim following an incident in which she fractured her spine.

In April 2015, the woman-who has remained anonymous-attended the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin for a routine gastroscopy. The procedure was deemed a success, and she was taken to her ward to recuperate from the procedure. She was due to leave the hospital later that day. Nurses initially tended to her as she started to come out of the general anaesthetic. However, while she was still recovering from the anaesthetic’s effects, her nurses left, and she was left alone on the recovery unit. Still disoriented from the procedure, the woman attempted to get out of bed. Doing so, she fell, fracturing her spine due to the harsh impact on the floor.

Due to the severity of her injuries, the woman spent a further month at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital. Eventually, she was transferred to the Incorporated Orthopaedic Hospital in Clontarf to receive specialist treatment for her fractured spine. She remained at the Clontarf hospital for a further three months undergoing physiotherapy before being removed by her daughter to be cared for at home.

The woman, who prior to her fall had lived an independent life, now requires full-time care. Her daughter is now responsible for assisting her in simple daily tasks. The woman has to wear a lumbar brace at all times and uses a Zimmer frame for walking. Due to the circumstances surrounding her injury, the woman sought legal counsel. She then made a hospital fall injury claim against the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, alleging that the hospital had failed to adhere to its own falls prevention policy.

The hospital denied liability for her injuries, so the case was brought to the Circuit Civil Court. It was heard by Judge James O´Donohoe. The judge was informed that the due to injury in the hospital fall the woman was “no longer the woman she previously was”. He was also told that the woman had required hospital treatment previously following a fall at her home in November 2014, and the hospital should have reasonably been aware of this and monitored her closely.

Judge O´Donohoe heard evidence from the recovery unit´s Head of Nursing, but said “what speaks volumes to this court is that the ward nurse who attended the plaintiff was not called to give evidence.” The judge also accepted the evident of an expert witness who testified the Mater Hospital had failed to comply with its standard falls prevention policy.

After considering all of the evidence at hand, the judge found in favour of the injured woman. Judge O´Donohoe said the gastroscopy had a good outcome but tragically things changed for the worse. Initially awarding the woman €58,500 in settlement of her hospital fall injury claim, the judge granted a stay pending a possible appeal on the proviso a partial settlement of €30,000 was paid immediately.

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State Claims Agency Report Reveals Clinical Negligence Data

The State Claims Agency has published a report revealing the most common clinical incidents in Ireland and the cost of settling clinical negligence claims.

The report-entitled “National Clinical Incidents, Claims and Costs”-reveals the most common clinical incidents in Ireland and the case of settling clinical negligence claims in the period between 2010 and 2014. Its lead author Dr Dubhfeasa Slattery states that its purpose is to help improve patient safety by analysing national data on clinical incidents in Ireland. The hope is that by studying the results, a “learning health system” can be developed that provides safer care.

The report reveals that more than 206,000 clinical incidents in Ireland were reported to the State Claims Agency over the five year period. Not all of these reports were attributable to medical negligence, and therefore not all resulting in clinical negligence claims. The incidents were divided into five major categories – Medicine, Surgery, Maternity Services, Disability Services and Care of the Elderly.

In the Medicine category-which had the most clinical incidents reported-the prevailing adverse outcomes of negligence were attributable to a delay or failure to diagnose and treat. This most often occurred in a high-stress setting, such as the emergency room. Other common claims were made due to the incorrect medicine or dosage of medicine being prescribed or administered, and serious soft tissue damage – typically caused by bed sores due to a lack of nursing care.

The delay or failure to treat was again the leading cause of adverse outcomes. in the surgical category, too. However, in both in the Surgery category and the Maternity Services category the high percentage of adverse outcomes attributable to faulty equipment and missing or misplaced clinical records was alarmingly large.

The leading clinical incidents in Ireland in the Maternity Services category were post-partum haemorrhages and perineal tears. Issues with medication (such as incorrect dosage or errors in prescriptions) and serious soft tissue damage dominated the clinical incidents in the Disability Services and Care of the Elderly categories. A further 66,000 medical incidents were reported to the State Claims Agency during the period being investigated that were not regarded to be of a clinical nature.

It is difficult to obtain a clear grasp on the number of clinical negligence claims made during the period and the cost of settling them, as the figures quoted in the report (2,873 claims and €288 million in settlement costs) are misleading. They included claims made during the period not settled during the period, and pre-2010 claims settled between 2010 and 2014. They were also inflated during 2012 by DePuy hip replacement claims, the Lourdes Redress scheme, and by the volume of claims made for unnecessary symphysiotomy procedures.

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4,100 Victims of Foetal Valproate Syndrome Linked to Epilim in France

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 Irish trade name of the French anti-epilepsy drug Depakine which is widely used to treat epilepsy. It uses the active ingredient sodium valproate to control electrical activity in the brain, and is also effective in treating bipolar disorder, migraines, and chronic pain. It was first introduced in France in 1967,  and in the first concerns regarding birth defects in babies were made my medical professionals in France in the 1980s, it was introduced in Ireland under the name Epilim in 1983.

In the 1980s,  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. However, the evidence of birth defects due to taking Epilim was considered inconclusive, and the drug continued to be prescribed to pregnant mothers. It has been alleged that these claims were covered up to prevent any “unnecessary anxiety”.

It was only in 2006 that the French manufacturers of the drug – Sanofi – told leading medical professionals that they had evidence that sodium valproate may have adverse effects. They advised the medical profession to warn pregnant mothers of the potential risks of taking the drug.

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, and many pregnant mothers were still receiving the drug. 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. Furthermore, they discovered hundreds of Epilim-related stillbirth and cases of miscarriages.

ANSM´s study has resulted in the families of those affected by the adverse effects of sodium valproate to seek legal counsel. They formed 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 light of the French legal case, the Disability Federation in Ireland 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. Epilim’s label still does not carry a warning to pregnant mothers in Ireland. 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.

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Family Awarded Compensation for Son Disabled Due to Birth Negligence

A family has been awarded compensation for birth negligence by hospital staff which left their son severely disabled, after a nine-year-long battle with the HSE.

In May 2006, a baby boy was born Kerry General Hospital via emergency Caesarean Section. Due to the negligence of the staff at the facility, several errors were made during his birth. The baby’s birth was delayed by two hours for no justifiable reason, and the consultant obstetrician was not made aware of an abnormal foetal heartbeat. Staff further failed to identify the possibility of foetal hypoxia. No action was taken on a CTG trace indicating foetal distress, despite the potential for serious adverse effects.

Due to the avoidable delay in his birth, the boy suffered from oxygen deprivation in the womb. This resulted in life-altering brain damage. He later underwent assessment for disabilities, and was diagnosed with mixed dyskinetic spastic cerebral palsy. He has always depended on full-time care from his parents. He is unable to speak and is confined to a wheelchair. He will continue to need this level of care attention for the rest of his life. Despite the clear negligence of the staff and their obvious series of errors, the HSE failed to admit liability for nine years. During this time the boy´s family had to care for him on their own, out of their own pocket, without the support they were entitled to by the state.

After being threatened with aggravated damages by the family’s legal team, the HSE finally admitted liability for the birth negligence claim early last year. An interim settlement of €2.7 million compensation for brain damage at birth was awarded after being rushed through the court system for approval. Earlier this month, the family was back in court for the approval of a final lump sum settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth. The final sum was negotiated, and now amounts to €15 million. As the compensation was for a minor, the amount had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in the boy’s best interests. The sum of compensation was described as “commercial common and legal sense” by presiding judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

Judge Kelly paid tribute to the boy´s parents for the care of their son, and added while no money would compensate the boy and his family, it was the only form of redress the law could provide. He approved the settlement of compensation for the boy. He hoped it would give peace of mind that there is a fund to care for the boy´s needs into the future. As the boy is a ward of court, the settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth will be paid into court funds and managed by court authorities.

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Judge Approves Compensation in Birth Negligence Claim

A judge has approved a settlement of compensation for a young boy who suffers from cerebral palsy due to negligence surrounding his birth.

A baby boy (now six-year-of-age) was delivered at the Sligo General Hospital in May 2010. A CTG trace had been taken at 5:30pm, and it is alleged that it indicated the boy was suffering from foetal distress syndrome. However, no emergency Caesarean section was arranged and his delivery was delayed by two hours.

The delay meant that the boy suffered from a lack of oxygen in the womb, and suffered from brain damage. He underwent medical assessment for disabilities, and he was diagnosed with suffering from cerebral palsy. The boy, originally from Ballagharderreen, Co. Roscommon, his family have since moved to Canada.

Acting on her son’s behalf, his mother made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Sligo General Hospital and the Health Service Executives (HSE). The HSE quickly admitted liability and initiated negotiations concerning a settlement of compensation. They also offered a formal apology to the boy and his family for their failings, explaining why there was a delay in delivery.

The negotiations resulted in a €704,000 interim settlement of compensation, which should provide for the child’s care over the next five years. The case then proceeded to the High Court of Dublin such that the settlement could be assessed by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the hearing, Judge Cross heard the circumstances of the birth and the reasons behind the delayed delivery. He further heard that the young boy was a “bright and sociable” child. Whilst praising the boy’s family for the care they provided him over the past six years, he also commended the HSE’s cooperation and provision of an explanation. Judge Cross proceeded to approve the settlement. The case was adjourned the case for five years for the next settlement to be assessed.

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High Court Awards Interim Settlement of Compensation for Birth Negligence

The High Court has awarded an interim settlement of compensation for birth negligence to the family of a young boy who was born severely disabled due to a delay in his mother having a Caesarean section.

The claim for medical negligence compensation was made by a mother on behalf of her disabled child from Bantry, Co. Cork. Born in March 2010 at the Cork University Maternity Hospital, the boy sustained severe birth injuries after an alleged failure to correctly interpret the results of a CTG scan.

The scan showed that the boy was suffering from foetal distress syndrome, but these results were not correctly processed by medical professionals at the facility. As the staff did not believe the foetus was in danger, there was a delay in performing a Caesarean section. Consequently, the boy suffered from a lack of oxygen in the womb. He contracted hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy in utero, and was subsequently born with severe brain damage.

The boy, now six years old, is blind and unable to speak. He also suffers from daily seizures. His parents and extended family provide constant care for him, and he receives additional support from the Jack and Jill Foundation.

After seeking legal counsel, and acting on her son’s behalf, the boy’s mother made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE). Though the HSE denied the allegations of negligence, saying that their medical staff had done the best that they could in the circumstances of his birth, they agreed to pay an interim settlement of compensation of €1.35 million without admitting liability. The settlement allows for an assessment of the boy’s condition and future care needs.

As the claim was made on behalf of a minor, the settlement had to be approved in court before it could be awarded to ensure that it was in his best interests. The case was heard at the High Court in Dublin byMr Justice Kevin Cross. The judge was told of how hard it was for the boy’s family to get compensation for the delayed Caesarean section, and of their relief that the process was over. He further heard in the entire family’s dedication in providing the boy with his constant daily needs. Wishing the family the best for the future, Judge Cross approved the settlement and adjourned the case for three years for future assessments of compensation to be made.

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Mother Receives Compensation for  Vasa Praevia Birth Complications

The mother of twin boys has made a claim for medical negligence on behalf of one of her sons, who was left disabled due to failure to diagnose complications due to vasa praevia complications surrounding their birth.

In October 2010, twin boys were delivered at Cork’s University Maternity Hospital  by an emergency Caesarean Section. However, one of boys was declared healthy, his brother suffered foetal distress in utero and as such was very weak after he was born. The baby required extensive antenatal care. After undergoing further medical assessment, he was diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. The birth complications were due to vasa praevia, which is a condition in which the foetal blood vessels are near the internal uterine opening. This puts them at risk of rupturing during labour, thus causing harm to the baby.

After seeking legal counsel, the twins’ mother, acting on behalf of her second child, made a claim for medical negligence compensation for the failure to diagnose vasa praevia complications during her pregnancy. The woman, who has remained anonymous but is known to live in Midelton, Co. Cork, alleges that earlier scans revealed that one of the placentas was low-lying, one of the critical indicators of vasa praevia. However, this information was never acted upon by medical professionals.

The defendants-the Health Service Executives (HSE) and Cork University Maternity Hospital – denied that they were liable for the birth injury. They claimed that it was not standard practice to conduct further scans or tests to eliminate the risk of vasa praevia complications, and thus their staff were not negligent. Despite this, both parties agree to pay an interim sum of compensation without admitting guilt on their part.

As the claim was made on behalf of a minor it had to be approved by a High Court judge before any settlement could be awarded to ensure it was in the child’s best interests.The approval hearing was held earlier this week at the High Court of Dublin.The judge was told about the circumstances of the pregnancy and birth by the plaintiff, and what medical staff could have been done to prevent the boy’s injuries.

The court was also informed of the young boy’s progress in spite of his difficult condition. In 2014, he received a National Children of Courage Award. His friends and family had also raised funds for him to fly to the United States for selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery, which allowed him to walk for the first time. However, he still requires therapy for speech and language acquisition.

The interim settlement was approved by the High Court. The case was then adjourned for five years, after which an additional assessment will be conducted.

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HSE Offers Compensation to Bereaved Parents Without Admitting Liability

A settlement of compensation has been offered to bereaved parents by the HSE for the death of their newborn daughter, without offering an admission of liability.

A baby girl was born on the 15th July 2010 at the Limerick Regional Maternity Hospital. She was her parents’ fourth child, but their joy was tragically short-lived. Just six hours later, their baby had died due to severe blood loss.

The couple–who have wished to remain anonymous-were originally from Ballyneety in Co. Limerick. They claim that their baby had been born fit and healthy, but had died as a direct consequence of medical negligence and mismanagement of the situation. They state that, if their baby’s rapid blood loss had been noticed in time by hospital staff, their baby would have had much better chances of survival. The blood loss was later deemed to be due to the cutting of the umbilical cord.

The couple consulted a medical negligence solicitor and subsequently made a claim for compensation against the Health Service Executives (HSE). In the claim, they allege that the manner in which their daughter’s umbilical cord was cut was unsafe. They claim that when she was raised above the placenta so that the baby could be untangled from the afterbirth, the staff did not adequately clamp the cord. This lead to an extreme and rapid loss of blood.

The Health Service Executive, however, presented an alternate version of events and denied that they were liable for the newborn’s death. However, without admitting liability, an offer of €98,000 in compensation was made to the couple. The HSE said that this was to compensate for the extreme shock and trauma they suffered after losing their baby.

Before the settlement could be awarded it first had to be approved by a judge. The case was by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the Dublin High Court.  The judge heard the disputed evidence that the HSE was responsible for the baby’s death due to mismanagement of her birth. He was told that, after she had been raised and the cord cut, she became listless and floppy, dying just six hours later. 


After representatives from the HSE read a statement of regret, Judge Cross approved the compensation settlement. He proceeded to add his offer his sympathies to the bereaved couple.

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Hospital Trolley Accident Case Settled in Out-of-Court Agreement

A case in which a man fell off a hospital trolley while he was asleep was won compensation from the HSE after the case was settled in an out-of-court agreement.

In September 2015 when Anthony Whelan, a sixty-four year-old caretaker from Tallaght, attended the nearby Adelaide and Meath Hospital to seek medical assistance for post-operative pain. The hospital admitted Anthony overnight under observation, and a second operation was scheduled for the following morning to investigate the pain.

Anthony was taken to an overnight ward in a hospital trolley.The medical staff quickly realised that there was no bed available to him. As such, he was brought to a corridor near a nursing station, with screens around him to afford him the privacy to sleep.

Whilst he was sleeping, Anthony rolled off of the trolley and landed hard on the bases of the screens that surrounded him. An x-ray was immediately taken to investigate if he sustained any damage. It showed that there was no apparent damage to his chest or back, but the staff still administered a dose of painkillers before moving Anthony to a private room.

The next morning, Anthony was operated upon as planned. Once he recovered, he sought the advice of a solicitor and proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence compensation. He alleged that, whilst he was staying at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, he did not receive an adequate level of care. He claimed that the trolley was not adequate for him to sleep on, and thus the hospital was liable for his accident.

Despite acknowledging the accident, the hospital disputed the amount of compensation Anthony was claiming, as they claimed x-rays showed that he had not been seriously injured. As such, the case was scheduled for an assessment of damages at the Circuit Civil Court. There, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was informed that the parties had settled upon a compensation settlement, as well as the payment of costs. The judge was also informed that District Court was now responsible for the case.

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New Legislation to be Made to Deal with Medical Negligence Claims in Ireland

Health Minister Simon Harris has announced the foundation of a new office which will create legislation to change the way medical negligence claims are made in Ireland.

The Health Minister´s intentions to establish a new National Patient Safety Office were announced at the State Claims Agency´s first annual “Quality, Patient Safety & Clinical Risk Conference” at Dublin Castle on Monday.  The minister hopes that this will help with current legislation, and will advance further to enforce a medical negligence open disclosure policy.

At the conference, Mr Harris said that the new office would “lead a program of significant patient safety measures”. He stated that the hoped the office would review how adverse medical events are disclosed to patients and their families and the process for claiming medical negligence compensation in Ireland.

The National Patient Safety Office will be led by a team of experts, and would report directly to the Department of Justice and Equality. Mr Harris outlined the roles of the new office, which include: setting up a national patient advocacy service, introducing a patient safety surveillance system, and establishing a national advisory council for patient safety. These will streamline the procedure for making medical negligence claims in Ireland.

The National Patient Safety Office will also be responsible for accelerating the progress of the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill. However, until the EU has finished its own work on its review of European-wide data protection standards, enactment of the bill may not be possible.

The conflict between the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill and the EU review is due to the bill containing measures to protect patients´ private healthcare information while simultaneously aiming to create a national network of healthcare data. This databank of health information will be used by experts to improve the provision and management of healthcare services throughout Ireland.

The Health Minister also stated that he intends to enforce a medical negligence open disclosure policy. Prominent legal figures and patient safety experts have lobbied the government for many years for a legal duty of candour to be introduced to improve the manner in which legal proceedings are processed in Ireland.

Some have claimed that the HSE´s 2013 national guidelines for open disclosure have been largely unacknowledged, as there still exist many hospitals who have not adopted the policies. They further claim that former Health Minister Leo Varadkar missed an opportunity to enforce a medical negligence open disclosure policy in the Civil Liberty (Amendment) Bill 2015.

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Child Left Permanently Disabled Due to Medical Negligence

A child has been awarded €2.6 million as an interim settlement of compensation for injuries he sustained due to medical negligence while attending his local hospital. He was left with lifelong disabilities due to the negligence.

In August 2012, Eoghan Dunne-who was eleven months old at the time of the incident-was admitted to the Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe. Eoghan-originally from Co. Offaly-was suffering from severe respiratory distress and an elevated heart rate. He was kept under observation of medical staff, and within twelve hours his condition had become so severe that it was deemed necessary for him to be transferred to Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Dublin.

At the Dublin hospital, Eoghan went into septic shock and suffered from a heart attack. His brain was starved of oxygen, and as a consequence he sustained severe brain damage. After further medical investigation, he was diagnosed with epilepsy. Furthermore, he was left with severe visual impairments and an inability to walk or talk. Eoghan remained in hospital in hospital for nearly half a year after the heart attack. Upon returning home, he became entirely reliant on his parents and requires twenty-four hour care. He will need this level of attention for the rest of his life.

An investigation was launched into the nature of Eoghan’s injuries. The report produced showed that he had received substandard care whilst at the Portincula Hospital. The review alleges that the facility was not prepared for cases such as Eoghan’s, and that they failed to give him antibiotics, as is normally required according to the HSE’s policies regarding sepsis. Additionally, the transfer to Temple Street was unnecessarily delayed because of a lack of “competent staff” at the facility.

Ronan and Teresa, Eoghan’s parents, sought legal counsel in the hopes of claiming compensation for their son. They decided to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the HSE and the Portiuncula Hospital, alleging that their son would not have sustained as severe injuries had the hospital acted appropriately. However, the HSE denied that they were liable and a court hearing was scheduled.

Shortly before the case was due to be heard in court, the HSE decided to concede liability for the claim and offered an interim settlement of compensation such that an adequate assessment of Eoghan’s needs could be made. Before this could be awarded, it was subject to approval by the High Court of Dublin as the claim was made on behalf of a minor.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw the approval hearing. The circumstances of Eoghan’s case were presented to him, as was the extent of care that Eoghan needed form his parents. The judge readily approved the settlement. He added that, had the HSE conceded liability earlier, Eoghan could have afforded treatment at a more critical stage. The interim settlement amounts to €2.4 million, and assessments are currently underway to finalise the next settlement.

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Government to Pay Compensation to Woman Forced to go to the UK for Abortion

Woman who was forced to go to the UK for a termination will be paid compensation by the Irish Government after the UN Human Rights Committee found in her favour, deeming her treatment under the law “inhumane”.

Under the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution (Article 40.3.3º), the right to life of an unborn child is protected unless there is a risk to the health of the mother. Consequently women seeking abortions when there is no risk to their health have to travel outside of Ireland–often to the UK. Pregnant women have to travel even if their unborn child is diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality or the pregnancy is attributable to the mother being raped.

It is estimated that hundreds of women travel outside of Ireland each year seeking abortions. One such woman was Amanda Mellet, who. In November 2011, when she was just 21 weeks pregnant, she was given the devastating news that her unborn child would die in the womb or shortly after its birth due to a fatal foetal anomaly. Rather than continue with the non-viable pregnancy, Amanda chose to have an abortion in the UK. Amanda also claims that there was a serious lack of information offered to her in Ireland regarding fatal foetal anomaly terminations.

Amanda´s experience of her abortion was traumatic. Due to limited funds, she had to travel to the UK alone without emotional support and return to Ireland just twelve hours after undergoing the procedure. The hospital at which she underwent the procedure offered no options about the handling of her unborn child´s remains and, three weeks later, the foetus´ ashes were unexpectedly delivered to Amanda by courier.

Amanda found that there was no bereavement counselling due to abortions available in Ireland on her return. In order to help women who underwent experiences similar to her own, she founded the organization “Termination for Medical Reasons”. The organisation wishes to campaign for a change to the law in Ireland. Amanda also sought legal counsel and complained to the United Nations´ Human Rights Committee through the Centre for Reproductive Rights. She claimed that Ireland was violating women´s human rights by maintaining its position on abortion.

The Human Rights Committee found in Amanda´s favour – saying that Article 40.3.3º jeopardised Amanda´s well-being and subjected her to unnecessary financial and emotional suffering. Ruling that Ireland should revise its Constitution in order to provide “effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination”, the committee also ordered the Government to pay Amanda compensation for “inhuman” abortion laws in Ireland.

Leah Hoctor – the European Regional Director for the Centre for Reproductive Rights – issued a statement after the ruling was announced, in which she 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.”

Amanda also issued a statement following the ruling. She expressed her gratitude to the Human Rights Committee for its recognition that her human rights were violated as a result of the prohibition and criminalisation of abortion in Ireland. In respect of the Committee´s order for the state to pay compensation for inhuman abortion laws in Ireland, Amanda said:

“The decision not only vindicates my rights. It also serves to uphold the rights of many other women in Ireland who have faced and continue to face human rights violations under the current legal regime. The Human Rights Committee has made it clear that to redress the violations that I suffered, the Irish Government must ensure that other women do not live through similar violations of their rights. This cannot happen until Article 40.3.3 is repealed, until abortion is decriminalised and legislation is adopted to enable women to access services in Ireland.

With today’s decision in hand, I wish to finally leave behind these painful memories; and hearing the Committee’ findings today does help in my own healing, but my most sincere hope is that it may assist Ireland’s government in finding the courage to make the necessary changes in law. I hope the day will soon come when women in Ireland will be able to access the health services they need in our own country, where we can be with our loved ones, with our own medical team, and where we have our own familiar bed to go home and cry in. Subjecting women to so much additional pain and trauma simply must not continue.

Finally, I ask that the media respect my wish for privacy for myself and my husband James, who has supported me every step of the way”.

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Compensation Awarded in Avoidable Birth Delay Case

Compensation has been awarded to a young woman who now suffers from cerebral palsy due to a delay in her birth which was entirely avoidable.

Mary Malee was born at the Mayo General Hospital on 11th October 1999 via Caesarean section. The emergency operation was required after a heart trace showed that she was becoming distressed in the womb. Due to there being no consultant available to assist with the birth, Mary´s delivery was 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. She now suffers from cerebral palsy, and requires a wheelchair for mobility.

Mary´s mother – Maura Malee from Swinford, County Mayo – claimed a delayed delivery compensation settlement from the Health Service Executive. The claim alleged that her injuries were avoidable, and that the Mayo General Hospital was negligent and liable for her daughter’s injuries. She stated that they failed to ensure that a paediatrician was present after a deceleration of the foetal heart rate had been identified.This mismanagement of her daughter’s birth had led to the failure to deliver Mary in a timely manner. The defendants admitted liability for the injuries.

In March 2014, an interim delayed delivery compensation settlement of €1.5 million was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. The case was then adjourned 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.

This time, the case was heard at the High Court by Mr Justice Peter Kelley. Representatives of the Mayo General Hospital read a statement to Mary, in which they 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”. The representatives further told Judge Kelley that a final delayed delivery compensation settlement of €5.56 million had been agreed with the family. The judge approved the settlement on Mary’s behalf.

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.

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Lump Sum Awarded to Girl Suffering from Cerebral Palsy Due to Medical Negligence 

A girl who suffers from quadriparetic cerebral palsy due to a doctor’s medical negligence-his failure to refer her mother to a specialist when needed-has been awarded a lump sum of compensation.

In October 2004, Catherine Sheehan was pregnant with her daughter and visited her doctor to have a pre-birth blood test. The test results showed that Catherine’s blood antibody levels had undergone an “alarming increase”. In spite of these worrying results, Dr David Corr – her obstetrician – did not refer her to a specialist to seek further treatment. One month later, in November, her daughter Isabelle was born at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in Cork. It was clear at the time of her birth that she was unhealthy, and further medical investigation diagnosed her with sever spastic quadriparetic cerebral palsy.

Isabelle-now eleven years old-attends a Gaelscoil near Mallow, Co. Cork, where she lives. She was described as “bright and intelligent” in court, in spite of having difficulties communicating with others. A machine was specially made to help her to walk. She will be reliant on twenty-four hour care for the rest of her life.

Isabelle’s mother sought legal advice to seek compensation for her daughter’s injuries. Dr Corr admitted liability for Isabelle’s condition after her mother made a claim against him for his failure to refer her to a specialist. Whilst speaking at a hearing to award an interim settlement of compensation in 2011, he told the court that he “very much regrets the outcome in relation to Isabelle´s birth”.

The family returned to court in October 2013 to receive second interim settlement of compensation. At this hearing, Catherine requested that they ceased to receive the interim settlements and instead received a lump sum. An assessment had to be carried out for several weeks prior to each settlement to ensure that a suitable value was awarded, but Catherine told the court that these disputed her daughter’s attempts to live a normal life.

The court granted the request, and the case went to the High Court to be heard by Mr Justice Peter Kelly. The final lump sum settlement was agreed to be €9 million. Judge Kelly, who is also President of the High Court, said that it was a fair and reasonable settlement, and it was understandable why Catherine made the request. He also paid tribute to Isabelle’s parents, saying that Isabelle’s progress was so good because of her parents’ “truly remarkable” love, care and dedication.

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High Court Awards Compensation to Family of Man Left in a Coma

The High Court has awarded €550,000 in compensation to the family of a man who was left in a coma due to the failure of medical staff to correctly diagnose his organ failure.

In 2011, Robert Bolton-who was seventy-one at the time of the incident-underwent an operation on his oesophagus. The procedure was initially determined a success. However, the next day, he suffered from respiratory failure and had a heart attack.

He was immediately transferred to intensive care by medical staff. Robert’s condition continued to deteriorate. Because of his sepsis, Robert suffered from a hypoxic ischaemic brain injury, leaving him in a coma. Since 2011, Robert has only been minimal consciousness on a small handful of occasions.

Robert’s wife, Angela, sought legal counsel to seek compensation for her husband’s injuries. She was concerned about the care her husband received during and after his operation, as well as during his stay in the intensive care unit at the hospital. She proceeded to make a claim against the hospital for their failure to diagnose her husband’s organ failure. She claimed that the medical staff who were responsible for her husband did not adequately diagnose Robert’s sepsis. Furthermore, they did not adhere to the criteria of systemic inflammatory response.

The defendants-the hospital at which Robert underwent the procedure-denied full liability for his injuries. However, they did admit partial liability regarding the substandard level of care Robert received at the facility.

The two legal teams began to negotiated the terms of the compensation settlement that would be offered to Robert.  An interim settlement of compensation amounting to €550,000 was determined to be adequate for the level of injuries sustained. This figure would pay for two years’ worth of the specialist care Robert now requires.

However, as the claim was being made on behalf of someone unable to represent themselves in court, the settlement had to be approved by the High Court. The case was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The judge heard of how the hospital’s alleged failings lead to the deterioration of Robert’s condition and how it has impacted his family.

Though Angela assured Judge Cross that no amount of money would compensate for what happened to her husband, although she added the it would act as a reassurance that he was getting adequate care. The judge approved the settlement before commenting that it was the result of hard bargaining. He finished by wishing Angela and her family the best for the future.

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Journalist Criticises Implementation of Open Disclose Policy in Ireland

Journalist Catherine Shanahan has written an opinion-editorial for the Irish Examiner which criticises the open disclosure policy created for the Health Service Executive, saying that it has not been adequately enforced in hospitals around Ireland.

In November 2013, the policy was created to dictate when the HSE should tell families when there are issues with the standard of healthcare provided to patients. However, despite being described as “good on paper”, it is yet still not enforced in many of the hospitals nationwide.

Shanahan used the details of seven medical negligence cases that occurred in 2015 and gained some attention by the media. According to Shanahan, the cases she chose-many to do with birth negligence claims-demonstrate how the HSE are extremely reluctant in admitting to their wrongdoings. As a result of the lack of proper disclosure, if patients want to learn the true story of the events they endured, they and their families are forced to go to court. It is usually only then that the HSE will accept liability.

Shanahan examined Gil Russell’s case, which was one of the most well-known because of involvement of with the Sates Claim Agency in delaying her compensation settlement. Born in 2006 with cerebral palsy because of a “prolonged and totally chaotic” delivery which left her deprived of oxygen in utero, Gill and her family brought the HSE to court to seek compensation. It was only then, in 2012, that HSE only issued an apology. At the same time, an interim settlement of compensation was awarded.

The Russell family were back in the High Court in 2014 to be awarded a €13.5 million lump settlement. This was was the largest ever awarded by the state for cerebral palsy, and as such, the State Claims Agency made an attempt to appeal the settlement, stating that it was too much. Their case was later rejected by the High Court. However, they continued to protest, and the case was then taken to the Supreme Court – again depriving Gill and her family of the settlement.

Other cases mentioned in the editorial included Skye Worthington and Katie Manton – both suffered similar circumstances to Gill Russell, and both waited for years to receive an apology from the Health Service Executive for their mismanaged births.

The opinion-editorial made a clear and concise argument that the open disclosure policy is not being applied in Irish hospitals, and more strict regulation is needed. It further stated that the money put towards public and doctor education concerning the policy was a waste of government funds.

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Death of Newborn Boy Deemed Due to Medical Misadventure, HSE Liable

The death of a newborn boy at Cavan General Hospital has been deemed due to medical misadventure and the HSE liable, according to the concluding report of an investigation launched into his death.

On the 20th November 2012, Fiona Watters and her partner Francis Flynn attended the Cavan General Hospital for the birth of their first baby. Fiona’s waters broke on the morning of the 22nd. Prostaglandin was administered by the medical staff in charge of managing the birth. This drug is widely used to speed up labour.

As the day progressed, there was still no sign of the baby. Medical staff regularly increased the dose of the drug given to Fiona. That evening, an attempt was made at a natural delivery, though after an hour, no progress had been made. Dr Salah Aziz, a consultant obstetrician at the hospital, was contacted by the midwives. He was told that several scans-including a heart trace-indicated that the baby was suffering foetal distress, and that he was not yet visible.

When Mr Aziz arrived at the labour ward in the hospital. Despite intending to immediately perform a Caesarean Section on Fiona, he discovered that another Caesarean Section was being carried out in the only out-of-hours theatre. As such, he tried both a forceps and vacuum delivery. However, both of these methods failed. Eventually the operating theatre became available, and Ms Watters had an emergency Caesarean Section. Her baby, named Jamie, was delivered shortly after.

The baby was born in very poor condition, and was quickly transferred to a special care unit in the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin.  He died just two days later in his mother’s arms. An investigation ensued looking into the circumstances of Jamie’s death. This initial investigation was stopped by the High Court in 2013, as Dr Aziz pointed out that the investigators appointed by the HSE did not undertake proper procedures for investigating the death of a newborn child.

An advanced copy of the report was sent to Ms Watters and Mr Flynn. They  sought legal counsel in the hopes of claiming compensation for the wrongful death of their newborn son. After this, they proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Cavan General Hospital and the HSE.

The HSE did not accept any liability for Jamie’s death until twelve months after the claim was made. Upon admitting liability, they ordered another investigation to be carried out. This team was composed of an independent review team, as there were two more deaths of children at the Cavan General Hospital.

In December 2014, this investigation concluded that Jamie’s wrongful death was caused by medical misadventure. The increasingly large doses of Prostaglandin, Dr Aziz’s failure to notify the registrar of Jamie’s imminent birth and the fact that there was only one out-of-hours theatre at the hospital were all listed to be contributing factors.

The State Claims Agency began negotiations with Jamie’s parents in order for the claim of compensation to be settled. A package of €70,000 was agreed upon to compensation them for the intense emotional suffering they endure. This settlement was approved by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys in the Dublin High Court.

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Highest Ever Settlement of Compensation for Cerebral Palsy Upheld by High Court

A panel of High Court judges have upheld the offer of a settlement of compensation awarded to a young girl born with cerebral palsy after the HSE appealed, claiming that the compensation package was too much.

In July 2006, Gill Russell, from Aghada in County Cork, was born in the Erinville Hospital, Cork. However, due to extreme mismanagement of her birth by medical staff at the hospital, she was born with dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Her birth was later described as a “prolonged and totally chaotic” delivery in court.

Karen, Gill’s mother, sought legal counsel to claim compensation for her daughter’s injuries. She made a claim for birth injuries due to medical negligence compensation against the hospital and the Health Service Executive.The defendants admitted liability for Gill’s condition, and an interim settlement was awarded to the family by the High Court in Dublin. The case was adjourned for assessment of her future needs.

In December 2014, the case was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross of the High Court in Dublin. A final lump sum of €13.5 million was approved by the judge. This was the largest award ever made by the court for a cerebral palsy claim. The settlement was appealed by the HSE and the State Claims Agency. They argued that Judge Cross had used too low a rate of interest to calculate the return investment of the lump sum, and therefore the settlement of compensation was far too high.

The case was heard earlier this month at the Court of Appeals, by a panel consisting of three judges. After both parties made their case, they upheld the settlement of compensation. The judges argued that using a higher rate of interest – which the HSE argues is normal for the court – would result in a severely disabled person taking “unjust and unacceptable risks” by investing their lump sum to safeguard their financial security.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was one one of the three judges on the panel. After the hearing, she commented that it was not the purpose of the courts to decide how a claimant was going to invest their award when determining its value. The judge also commented that, had the government succeeded in passing legislation that would allow structured, periodic payments, the HSE would not be in this situation. 

However, despite the Appeals Court’s ruling, the case is unlikely to be resolved, and the family are likely to end up back in court. The State Claims Agency have warned that the case could set a precedent that could cost the insurance industry up to €10 billion over the next ten years, The HSE have also indicated that they will likely take the case to the Supreme Court. Returning to court means that the family will have to do without the much-needed settlement of compensation for an even longer period of time.

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Seven Women Claim for Negligent Hysterectomies Against Private Clinic

A group of seven women have made claims against a doctor in a private clinic regarding the hysterectomy procedures they underwent their, as they claim their doctor was guilty of medical negligence.

A total of seven women have made claims for negligent hysterectomies against Dr Peter van Greene. Dr van Greene used to work at the Aut Even Hospital, a private facility in Kilkenny, between 2009 and 2011. Dr van Greene was recently before the Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Committee, which found that he was guilty of two counts of poor professional performance. The claims for negligent hysterectomies were made by the women before this hearing took place.

Helen Cruise and three other anonymous women were amongst those who made claims against the doctor. Helen claims that her hysterectomy was performed without her informed consent, and that she would not have opted for the procedure had she been offered more information. Since the operation, Helen has been suffering from bouts of depression.

Speaking at the Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Committee, Helen alleged that the procedure, the long-term effects, any risks  involved, were only explained to her by Dr van Greene after she had been administered with a spinal anaesthetic. Therefore, she was not in a fit state of mind to decide to have the procedure done. Furthermore, Helen needed six units of blood needed transferred to her after the procedure, as she was bleeding excessively.

The hearing also included details of how Dr van Greene had applied for bankruptcy in the United Kingdom, as he is currently unemployed. In spite of being under investigation for his conduct, he began working at the Whitfield Clinic in Waterford.

However, despite his declaration of bankruptcy, the women making claims against him should still be able to claim for compensation. Any settlements that will be awarded will be paid for by Dr van Greene’s medical indemnity insurance company. The results of the hearing should be available later this year.

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HSE Admits Liability for Death of Newborn “Six Years Too Late”

The HSE has admitted liability for the death of a newborn, stating that their staff had indeed mismanaged her birth. The baby’s parents have rejected the apology offered by the HSE, stating that it was “six years too late”.

In February 2009, Caoimhe Mulcair was born at Limerick’s Midland Regional Hospital. Her parents, Joan and John, had been struggling to have a child for many years, and were delighted when their baby girl was born. Shorly after she was born, a midwife noticed that Caoimhe’s cry was abnormal for a newborn. Concerned about her condition, Caoimhe then transferred to the hospital’s special care unit for specialist attention. In spite of this, she died just thirty-nine minutes after her birth in her mother’s arms.

Joan and John sought the advice of a solicitor to seek compensation for the death of their newborn baby. They made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Health Service Executives (HSE) and the Midland General Hospital. They alleged that the hospital failed to act after Caoimhe’s foetal heart rate was noted as slow when a scan was taken just before she was born. This negligence resulted in her being starved of oxygen in utero. However, the HSE disputed these allegations until September 2014, at which time the Mulcairs were offered an undisclosed settlement of compensation.

Earlier this month, a court in Limerick ruled that Caoimhe had died because of medical misadventure. An independent medical professional provided evidence that a slow foetal heart lead to the deprivation of oxygen to her brain. During the hearing, Collette Cowan, Chief Executive of the Midland Regional Hospital, read an apology to Joan and John for their daughter’s death.

This apology was rejected by the couple, who told reporters that it was delivered “six years too late”. Once the inquest had finished, John told reporters that whilst the couple were fighting for a compensation settlement, the HSE issued no apology and that it was shameful that the HSE “an ordinary decent family through the pain and torment we had to endure for over six years”.

Later, a spokesperson for the HSE clarified that it was the State Claims Agency, not the HSE, that handled compensation disputes. However, a columnist for the Irish Times was not impressed by this “passing of the buck”, writing that “A common interest links the HSE and the claims agency and there has been a persistent pattern of denial, prevarication and years of unnecessary delay in dealing with medical claims. The public and aggrieved patients deserve better. So do the vast majority of medical professionals.”

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Compensation Offered to Family of Teenager Born a Spastic Quadriplegic

The HSE has offered a settlement of compensation to the family of a teenage boy who was born a spastic quadriplegic due to medical negligence surrounding his birth.

Thomas O’Connor was born at the Sligo General Hospital in September 1996. Medical staff in charge of his birth diagnosed him with foetal distress in utero after completing several routine scans. Due to his condition Thomas was delivered by emergency Caesarean section. However, he was not breathing when he was born and his heart had stopped. The baby was resuscitated with a breathing tube. Due to his brain being deprived of oxygen, he sustained severe brain damage. He was later diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic.

His mother sought legal counsel to seek compensation for her son’s injuries. In the claim for birth negligence compensation, Thomas’ mother alleges that the delivery of Thomas and his subsequent resuscitation was negligent. Thomas was starved of oxygen on two separate occasions, which caused severe brain damage that has rendered him disabled. In addition to being a spastic quadriplegic, Thomas is also blind, and can only eat through a tube. He is reliant on twenty-four hour care.

Ann O’Connor, on her son’s behalf, made the claim against the Sligo General Hospital. The claim alleges that Thomas’ delivery was delayed by up to four hours without justifiable cause. She also states that the heart attack that Thomas suffered whilst on his way to the Intensive Care Unit was a direct result of medical staff inserting the resuscitation tube too deeply into Thomas’ throat.

The defendants-the Health Service Executives (HSE) denied all liability for Thomas’s injuries. As there was a dispute of liability, the case was scheduled to be heard in the High Court of Dublin. Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings. Expert witnesses testified that, though a CTG trace showed obvious indications of an elevated foetal heart rate, it had been discontinued the morning of Thomas’ delivery. Additionally, they said that the tube had been inserted to a depth of 14 cm, despite guidelines outlining it should be inserted to a depth of 9 – 10 cm.

The judge was also informed that negotiations between the parties had resulted in a settlement of €1.75 million being offered to Thomas’s family. However, the HSE still denies liability. Judge Cross approved the settlement, commenting on his delight that the ordeal of claiming compensation was complete for Thomas’ family. The money from the settlement will be used to pay for Thomas’ care in a residential care home in Sligo.

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€9 Million Settlement of Compensation Awarded in Birth Injury Case

A judge has approved a settlement of compensation of €9 million the birth injury case of a tetraplegic girl.

Alex Butler was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005. Due to undiagnosed complications with her birth, she was born “blue and lifeless”. As the doctor in charge of Alex’s birth-who was a stand-in for her mother’s regular obstetrician-did not diagnosed these complications despite obvious signs, there was a delay of ten minutes in her delivery. 

Alex was started of oxygen in the womb due to the delay. She sustained severe brain damage, and has been left disabled for life. Despite this, Alex was described as a child with a“bright personality with a huge intelligence” in court. She was later diagnosed as tetraplegic, and she relies on a wheelchair for movement. She will be dependant upon 24 hour care for the rest of her life.

Her parents sought legal counsel. Acting on behalf of her daughter, Sonya Butler made a claim for Alex’s birth injuries against the Health Service Executive and Waterford Regional Hospital. The defendants acknowledged liability for Alex’s injuries. Negotiations began between the two legal teams, and an interim settlement of compensation was offered in 2013. It was hoped that a structured settlement of periodic payments could be introduced in Ireland so a lump sum would not have to be paid. The case was adjourned for two years for such a system to be created.

However, the government has failed to implement such legislation required for such a periodic settlement. As such, the family returned to the High Court for approval of a lump sum. The case was heard by Mr Justice Anthony Barr.

A representative of Waterford Regional Hospital read an apology to Alex and her family, expressing their regret and grief over Alex’s conditions. However, after this the parties could not agree as to how much compensation Alex was entitled to due to her severe disabilities. 

The parties continued to negotiate the settlement for over a fortnight after the initial hearing. Eventually, an agreement was reached, resulting in a €9 million lump sum being offered to the family. As the case was in regards to a minor, a judge had to approve the settlement to ensure it was in her best interests. Judge Barr in the High Court  approved the settlement, claiming that the settlement was both reasonable and fair. 

Alex’s parents were shocked and disappointed at the protracted negotiations. Sonya spoke to the press, openly criticising the State Claims Agency when speaking with reporters after the announcement of the settlement: “They fought tooth and nail. 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.”

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Judge Awards Compensation to Woman After Swab Left Inside of Her

A High Court judge has awarded compensation to a woman after a vaginal swab was left inside of her following the birth of her child at the National Maternity Hospital.

Claire Lalor, from Swords in Co. Dublin, was admitted to National Maternity Hospital in December 2012 to give birth. Following the delivery, Claire and her baby were deemed healthy, and they were discharged three days after being admitted. However, Claire began to experience extreme pain in her abdomen, and was suffering from a malodorous vagina. She returned twice within to hospital within two weeks seeking treatment. 

Both times she returned to the maternity hospital, the staff on hand failed to have Claire internally examined. On her second visit, the doctor prescribed her with antibiotics to clear they suspected a bacterial infection which she contracted post-birth. However, the antibiotics did nothing to alleviate her suffering, and the smell became worse. Claire continued to experience severe pain. On the 16th January she returned to the hospital. This time, she was internally examined. A vaginal swab was discovered to have been left inside Claire after her labour. 

Medical staff at the hospital immediately removed the swab. In spite of this Claire continued to feel pain and discomfort. She returned to hospital on the 18th January, where she was diagnosed with post-natal depression and subsequently discharged. Her condition deteriorated, and Claire began to experience new symptoms, such as sweating, chills and diarrhoea. 

Claire attended Beaumont Hospital seeking medical attention. After completing some tests, she was told that she had a Clostridium difficile infection. Medical staff said that it was contracted as a result of the unnecessary prescription of antibiotics. They gave her a new prescription, and Claire eventually recovered.

She sought legal counsel before making a claim for compensation because of the trauma and pain she suffered as a result of the swab being left inside her. Liability for Claire’s injuries was acknowledged by the National Maternity Hospital. However, they contested the extent to which Claire suffered psychologically. Their legal team argued that her symptoms could all be attributed to post-natal depression, rather than the trauma, and thus they were not liable. The two legal teams could not negotiate a settlement of compensation for Claire. As such the case proceeded to the High Court of Dublin for an assessment of damages. 

The case was heard at the High Court by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The judge agreed with the defendant’s legal team in their consensus that the difficult labour was a good indicator that Claire suffered from post-natal depression. He also agreed that her continuing symptoms could be attributed to an underlying condition. 

The judge also commented that Claire received adequate post-natal care, her recovery from post-natal depression would have been faster. He acknowledged that her protracted suffering due to the infection could certainly have made her depression worse. Justice Cross commented Claire was “entirely appropriately extremely distressed” by the experience. Claire was then awarded €140,000 for the injuries and infections she sustained because of the forgotten vaginal swab. 

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Boy Receives Compensation in Inappropriate Use of Syntocinon Case

A boy who was born with dyskinetic cerebral palsy has received an interim settlement of compensation for the inappropriate use of Syntocinon which caused his disability.

In July 2007, Patrick Brannigan-now seven years of age-was born by emergency Caesarean Section to his mother Niamh at Cavan General Hospital. Syntocinon-a drug commonly used to aid women with labour-was administered to Niamh-originally from Monaghan-early in her labour.

A CTG trace was taken by medical staff to assess Patrick’s state in the womb. The results had shown that the unborn baby was in distress in the womb. In such cases, it is strongly suggested that Syntocinon should not be used, as this causes increased foetal distress. However, the drug was given to Niamh anyway. Instead of aiding her labour, it resulted in Patrick being deprived of oxygen in the womb.

Patrick was born severely disabled. Later medical analysis diagnosed him with dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Patrick is now confined to a wheelchair, and is reliant on 24 hour care from his parents. He is unable to communicate verbally, and it has been determined that he shall never be able to live independently of his parents.

Niamh sought legal counsel, and made a claim for the inappropriate use of the synthetic drug on behalf of her son. She claimed that the medical staff at the hospital had mismanaged the birth, thus resulting in Patrick being born disabled. Had they not administered Syntocinon, he would have been born healthy.

The defendants admitted liability for the injury, acknowledging that Syntocinon should not have been administered in that case, given the evidence of foetal distress, and that their staff had been negligent. An apology was issued to the family, and interim compensation of €2.1million was offered as settlement. As Patrick was a minor, such compensation needed to be approved by a judge in court to ensure that it was in Patrick’s best interests.

The case was heard earlier this month by Judge Kevin Cross at the High Court in Dublin. The circumstances surrounding the birth were presented to him, and he heard that Patrick was a cheerful and good-natured boy. As a result, he approved the interim settlement of compensation for inappropriate use of Syntocinon.

Judge Cross adjourned the claim for three years so that Patrick’s future needs could be thoroughly assessed. Judge Cross further stated that he hopes that legislation will soon be passed so that the family could receive periodic payments to settle the claim for inappropriate use of the drug during labour.

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Boy Left Permanently Paralysed Due to Meningitis Medical Negligence

A boy has been left permanently paralysed due to medical negligence he experienced while being treated for meningitis at Wexford General Hospital.

In May 2004, Matthew McGrath (17 months old at the time of the incident) was brought to Wexford General Hospital. His parents were concerned that he was vomiting fluids and was having difficulty staying awake. Matthew was immediately seen by medical staff, and diagnosed with Haemophilus Influenza Type B. This is commonly known to be a precursor to meningitis, and had Matthew been given competent treatment, he should have been administered antibiotics immediately. However, medical staff failed to do this.

Matthew’s condition quickly deteriorated overnight and he went into shock. Despite widely accepted medical guidelines stating that patients in shock should not undergo lumbar punctures, one was performed to confirm Matthew’s case of meningitis.

Due to the resulting pressure on his spinal cord, Matthew was left permanently paralysed. He cannot move his arms or legs and his breathing is assisted by a ventilator. He was kept under medical observation in the hospital for tow years before he finally left hospital and started being cared for by his parents at home. He is reliant on 24 hour care from his parents, and will never be able to live independently.

On behalf of her son, Cathy McGrath sought legal counsel to claim compensation for her son’s injuries. She made a claim for failure to treat her son’s meningitis against the HSE. In the claim, she alleged that if her son had been administered the antibiotics and fluids as required when he initially arrived at Wexford General Hospital, he never would have needed the lumbar puncture, and as a result sustained such debilitating injuries.

An investigation was launched into the failure to treat the meningitis. The HSE admitted liability, and an interim settlement of €3.7 million was negotiated between the plaintiffs and the defendants. Since Matthew is a minor, the compensation had to be approved by a High Court judge before his family could accept it.

Mr Justice Matthew Cross heard the case at the High Court in Dublin. After hearing the circumstances of Matthew’s injuries, the judge approved the settlement. The money is to go towards Matthew’s everyday needs and continual medical treatment. The claim has been adjourned for five years so that an investigation into Matthew’s future needs can be conducted. A full compensation settlement will be negotiated as a result of this investigation.

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Missed Diagnosis of Hydrocephalus in Infant Heard in Court

The case of a missed diagnosis of hydrocephalus in an infant has been heard at the High Court.

In April 2008, Ava Kiernan was brought to see a public health nurse when she was just three months old. Her head had rapidly increased in circumference, and strange bulges had appeared on her skull. The nurse did not diagnose anything wrong with Ava, and released her with a clean bill of health, despite Ava displaying obvious symptoms of hydrocephalus.

Often called “water on the brain”, hydrocephalus is caused by spinal fluid collecting in the skull as a result of it not draining from the brain. It is diagnosed in children under a year old by bulges appearing around the skull, or by the quick increase in the circumference of the head, both of which Ava was showing.

Still concerned for her daughter’s health, Ruth Kiernan brought her daughter to hospital in September that year for another medical check. This time, her skull was measured by medical staff at the facility. However, the measurement was performed incorrectly, and the results it yielded were inaccurate.

Due to the delay in her diagnosis, the pressure of the spinal fluid in the skull resulted in Ava suffering from severe brain damage. Ava is now reliant on her parents for many basic tasks, and his both physically and mentally disabled.

Ruth sought legal counsel on her daughter’s behalf in the hopes of winning some compensation for her daughter’s injuries. She made a hydrocephalus brain injury claim for compensation against the HSE. The claim was contested by the defendant.

Due to the contest in liability, the case was brought to be heard in the High Court by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The hearing lasted three weeks. After hearing all of the errors made in the diagnosis, the judge ruled in Ava’s favour.

He stated that if there had been the appropriate follow-up examination after the initial nurse visit, or if the measurement of her head in September had been carried out correctly, the hydrocephalus would have been identified and suitably treated. Had it been identified, the judge stated that Ava never would have suffered the brain damage due to the excess of fluid.

The case was adjourned such that a investigation could be launched into Ava’s future medical needs. After the final report is published, the case will return to court such that an appropriate level of compensation can be awarded to the young girl.

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Severely Disabled Young Boy Receives Compensation for Mismanaged Birth

A young boy who has been left severely disabled due to medical staff’s mismanagement of his birth has been awarded an interim settlement of compensation by a High Court judge.

In July 2010, Kevin Dunphy-English of Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny, was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital. When he was born, medical staff in charge of his birth declared him as “neurologically compromised”. Kevin spent the first three weeks of his life in an intensive care unit. He was later diagnosed with suffering from cerebral palsy. He can only walk for short distances, and he will be reliant on the use of a wheelchair for movement for the rest of his life.

Jane, Kevin’s mother, sought legal counsel and made a claim for his mismanaged birth and resulting injuries on behalf of her son against the Waterford Regional Hospital. In the claim, she alleges that though a foetal blood sample was taken at 1:40 am, there was no record of the foetal heart rate until 2:30 am. She states that there was no justifiable reason for this delay.

Furthermore, the legal action claims that, had medical staff taken another blood sample after the foetal heart rate was detected, the decision to intervene in Kevin’s birth would have been made sooner. An investigation carried out into the allegations of a mismanaged birth discovered that, had Kevin been delivered an hour earlier, he would not have sustained his current injures. They further agreed with Jane’s conclusion that there was no justifiable reason as to why Kevin’s birth was delayed by staff.

The Health Service Executives (HSE) acknowledged that Kevin’s birth was not dealt with to an acceptable standard, and that there was negligence on Waterford Regional Hospital’s part for not delivering Kevin quickly enough. The two legal parties entered negotiations, and they agreed on an appropriate value of compensation for Kevin’s injuries and for the nervous shock suffered by his parents. As the claim was made on behalf of a minor the settlement had to be approved by the courts to ensure that it was in Kevin’s best interests. The case was brought to the High Court to be heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

Kevin met Judge Cross in the judge’s chambers before the hearing started. Judge Cross was told of Kevin’s progress at pre-school, and his parents’ hopes that he will be in a mainstream class when he goes to primary school. Kevin was termed “a lovely little lad” by the judge, and his parents were commended for their dedication to their son.

Kevin was awarded €2 million as an interim settlement of compensation for the injuries he sustained as a result of his mismanaged birth. The case was adjourned for five years by the judge such that an assessment damages could be conducted. Once this has been carried out, Kevin’s parents will be offered either a lump sum or a structured scheme of periodic payments if the legislation is introduced by the government in time.

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New Set of Protocols Proposed to Reduce the Cost of Medical Negligence Claims in Ireland

The Medical Protection Society has released a new set of proposals for protocol changes in the hopes that they will reduce the cost of making a medical negligence claim in Ireland.

The non-profit organisation responsible for providing legal assistance to those working in the medical sector-the Medical Protection Society-has recently published a new set of proposals for “pre-trial protocols”. These were created with the aim to lower the costs of making hospital negligence claims in Ireland. They state that with existing protocol and procedures, there is a significant expenses involved in bringing legal action against the Health Service Executive (HSE), which puts intense strain on both the medical system and the victims and families of those affected.

They suggest that by making communication between the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s legal teams easier, more cases may be resolved before litigation is even necessary. They hope to do this by promoting openness and transparency on both sides. They also want to provide an opportunity for each negligence claim made against the hospital to be fully investigated by independent experts and potentially resolved before litigation is even necessary.

This improved dialogue between sides should lower the costs of medical negligence claims by reducing the amount of adversarial processes. In both England and Wales, solicitors and levied with financial penalties if they go straight to the litigation procedure without first attempting some sort of mediation. If the Medical Protection Society’s proposal is successful, such penalties would not be required as the process will be nearly automatic.

Emma Hallinan-the MPS’s Director of Claims-has suggested that the new set of protocols should first be trialled voluntarily before any legislation is introduced. She states: “We recognise the important role that the MPS must play, and have committed to trialling procedural reform before it is introduced in statute. We are in the process of writing to plaintiff lawyers with large medical negligence practices to request that they work with us to pilot this.”

Among the various proposals put forward by the Medical Protection Society, a tariff of general damages would be introduced. This is comparable to the Judicial College’s “Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases” in the UK. This tariff would act as a scale for compensation awards for specific physical injuries caused by hospital negligence. The range of medical injuries covered by this scale if extensive, including brain damage, surgical errors, and dental damage.

Other general damages-such as loss of amenity and emotional trauma-as well as special damages to replace lost incense and expenses would still require negotiation between parties to resolve. Many who have read the proposals commend the MPS, stating that they are heading in the right direction to lower the costs of making such hospital negligence claims in Ireland.

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Judge Rejects Request for Lump Sum Payment in Cerebral Palsy Case

A High Court judge has rejected a woman’s request for her son’s interim payments of compensation for cerebral palsy to be replaced by a lump sum.

In February 1995, Connor Corroon (now 19 years of age) was born in the Cork City General Hospital. Due to the negligence and errors of the medical staff in charge of his birth, his brain was deprived of oxygen in the womb. As a consequence of this, he has been left permanently disabled. He was later diagnosed with suffering from cerebral palsy. He cannot communicate orally, and is reliant on a wheelchair for mobility.

On behalf of her son, Judith Corroon sought legal counsel and made a claim for birth injuries compensation against the hospital where her son was born. In 2010, Connor became the first plaintiff to be awarded an interim settlement of compensation for catastrophic injuries pending the introduction of structured payment legislation. Last year, he received his second interim settlement of compensation from the HSE.

The government still has not introduced a structured payment scheme for settlements of compensation in medical negligence cases. Connor was due to receive his third payment later this year. However, his mother requested that it be a full, final lump sum. She states that the series of assessments that her son must endure before each court appearance disrupts their attempts at having a normal life. By receiving a lump sum, she would save him this distress.

She explained her case at the High Court, stating that she desired her son’s life not to be filled with these frequent disruptions. She described her son’s existence as being in a “fishbowl”, and said that in spite of his disability, she hoped that Connor would one day be able to attend university.

Despite her plea, Judge Barton denied her request, although he seemed sympathetic to her cause. He stated his reason for the rejection of her case being that if the money from a lump sum payment were to one day run out, it would disastrous for Connor. He approved another interim payment of €1.45 million. To this date, the total paid to Connor for his injuries is €3.25 million.

Justifying his decision, Judge Barton said that he had recently received a consultation paper relating to the proposed Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill. The Bill aims to introduce a system of regular payments next year to better serve plaintiffs with catastrophic injuries. The judge said that a periodic payment system would be in Connor´s best interests, and he adjourned the hearing for a further five years in the hopes that such a structured payment scheme would soon be introduced.

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Experts Dissatisfied with New Scheme for Symphysiotomy Claims

Experts and public figures have expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s newly launched scheme for women making  symphysiotomy claims.

The government has recently launched a scheme to help women claim symphysiotomy compensation. The compensation is for operations performed between 1940 and 1980 on the women without them providing adequate consent. It is estimated that nearly three hundred and fifty women are able to apply for the scheme. The scheme follows after the government changed its stance extending the Statute of Limitations such that women who had unknowingly undergone the procedure during labour could claim compensation.

The symphysiotomy compensation scheme works on a three-tier basis, based on the severity of the injuries that the women sustained. Those who did not sustain any long-term damage are entitled to claim €50,000. Women who sustained a recorded disability because of the procedure can claim €100,000, and those who had previously had a Caesarean Section, and then had a symphysiotomy performed upon them can receive €150,000.

Maureen Harding-Clark, a former High Court judge has been appointed by the government to oversee each claim. The deadline by which the claims must be submitted is December 5th of this year. However, this deadline can be extended by a further twenty days should Judge Harding-Clark deem the case exceptional.

Claimants have another twenty days to accept any offer of compensation after an offer has been made. However, to do this, any action against the state must first be withdrawn by the claimant.

There are presently over one-hundred-and-fifty High Court actions for symphysiotomy claims on progress. However, dates for only two of the hearings have been confirmed. Marie O’Connor, head of Survivors of Symphysiotomy, has expressed her dissatisfaction with the new scheme as the time limit makes it “impossible for women to seek independent advice and to make a considered decision”.

The Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Mark Kelly, is also dissatisfied with the scheme. He claims that it contradicts the state’s obligations to human rights by not addressing compensation needs for each individual and treating them on this tiered basis. Additionally, the compensation is being paid out without any admission by the state of their liability and without an apology being offered to the women affected.

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Teenager Wins Compensation in Birth Negligence Case

A teenager who has been left severely disabled due to negligence surrounding his birth has been awarded compensation by the Dublin High Court.

In November 2001, James McCarthy of Clonmel, County Tipperary was born at St Joseph’s hospital at thirty-three weeks. A scan revealed that his twin brother had died in the womb, and therefore James was delivered by emergency Caesarean section. The baby boy was born with severe disabilities. When he was one year old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

On behalf of their son, James Cooney and Linda McCarthy sought legal counsel. They made an injury compensation claim the consultant obstetrician Dr Raymond Howard, who was working at St Joseph’s Hospital and who had been in charge of Linda’s care during the later stages of her pregnancy with James.

In the claim, Linda stated that she had been referred to St Joseph’s Hospital for ante natal care and was seen by Dr Howard’s registrar. A scan was conducted and the registrar showed concern over the results. The registrar wanted to admit Linda to hospital immediately for further observation and in concern for the twins.

However, despite the concern, Dr Howard dismissed his registrar’s opinion and told Linda that she was to return to him a week later. She returned, and another scan was taken. This scan revealed that one of the twins that she was carrying had died during that time. This prompted them to deliver James by Caesarean Section immediately. Due to the trauma that James suffered in the womb, he is dependant on his parents for life. He is unable to walk, talk or  even sit up by himself.

Although Dr Howard was her obstetrician, the first time that Linda had actually met was the day after her son had been delivered. She alleged that neither her health not her son’s had been investigated, monitored, diagnosed or treated in an adequate or competent manner in the latter part of her pregnancy. She further claimed that James’ injuries could have been avoided in the doctor had taken greater care.

Dr Howard admitted liability for the young boy’s injuries. As the case was made on behalf of a minor, the case needed to be heard at the Dublin High Court so that a judge could approve the settlement of compensation. Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings, and was informed that an interim settlement of compensation of €2.75 million had been agreed upon by the two parties.

The judge approved this settlement, and adjourned the case for a further three years so that an investigation into James’ future needs could be completed and further settlements of compensation could be calculated.

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Beaumont Hospital Faces Growing Overcrowding Issue

Beaumont Hospital is facing an ever-growing overcrowding issue, due to part to reduction in services at nearby facilities.

Beaumont Hospital Chief Executive Liam Duffy has recently made comments to hospital staff warning them of safety issues at the Dublin hospital and stating that the hospital must regain its stability as a matter of urgency. The comments were communicated to staff via an email circulated to all members of the hospital. In the email, he described the conditions at the hospital as “unsafe” for all those involved. He further pointed out that on the day writing the email in August, there were 58 patients waiting to be discharged at the hospital. This figured included one patient who had been waiting in the Emergency Department for 44 hours.

Mr Duffy blamed the deteriorating state of care at the hospital to an acute shortage of beds caused by patients who are sufficiently fit for discharge, but who are waiting for nursing home beds to become available. The demand for beds resulted in the hospital recording 2,433 occasions during 2013 on which patients were attended to on trolleys. This is the highest figure for any hospital in the country. He further mentioned that, although the lack of beds was of extreme concern, the safety issues at the Dublin hospital were “not confined to a shortage of beds”.

The former Clinical Director of the Beaumont Hospital – Professor Shane O´Neill – resigned in April from his position at the hospital over his concern for patient safety. He said in a public letter of resignation that the volume of psychiatric patients in the overcrowded Emergency department was “entirely unsafe and indefensible”. Professor O´Neill called for the establishment of a dedicated psychiatric assessment area for patients who were suicidal or suffering from extreme psychiatric episodes.

The accident and emergency department at Beaumont Hospital is one of the busiest in the country. This is in part due to a reduction of services at the nearby Navan, Dundalk, Blanchardstown and Drogheda Hospitals. In 2013, nearly 52,000 patients attended the Emergency department and the indications are that that figure is set to rise by the end of 2014.

In August 2011, nurses at the hospital took industrial action to highlight safety issues at the Dublin hospital. At the beginning of 2014, the Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation released figures which showed Beaumont Hospital to be the most over-crowded in Ireland. They are calling on the government to act on these figures, both for patient welfare and their own.

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