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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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