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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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