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.