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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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