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Mismanaged Birth Injury Case Adjourned by High Court

A case of injures due to mismanaged birth has been adjourned by the High Court due to the full extent of the injuries sustained by the child not being known.

In 2013, Catriona Enright was admitted to the Midwestern Regional Maternity Hospital in Limerick when she was thirty-seven weeks pregnant with her son, Charlie. After an initial medical examination, Catriona was put into an induced labour, for which the doctors administered Syntocinon. Even though the drug has well documented side effects and potential risks to the foetus, the medical staff still failed to adequately monitor Charlie’s condition in utero. Due to the drug, Charlie suffered from hyper-stimulation in the womb.

The morning following her admittance to hospital, Catriona delivered Charlie. He was born unable to breathe without assistance, a condition often described as “flat” in newborn children. This was due to doctors’ misinterpretation of a cardiotocograpphy trace and delayed diagnosis of foetal distress. Due to his condition, Charlie was then transferred to Cork University Hospital for further care. He was later diagnosed with an intra-cranial haemorrhage. He then underwent therapeutic hypothermia treatment.

Despite the treatment, Charlie sustained permanent brain damage due to the mismanagement of his birth. Acting on behalf of her son, Catriona made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Health Service Executives for the lack of care she received before her son’s delivery. The HSE conducted an investigation and subsequently admitted their liability for Charlie’s injuries.

The two legal teams began negotiations to find a suitable sum of compensation for his injuries. These negotiations were complicated by the fact that the future and full extent of Charlie’s condition is not yet known. As such, a €1.75 million interim settlement was negotiated such that Charlie could be provided for for the next two years whilst an assessment was undertaken.

The case then proceeded to the High Court of Dublin such that the settlement could be approved, as it was made on behalf of a child. Mr Justice Anthony Barr heard the case and approved the settlement and adjourned the case for two years. He further wished the family well.

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