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Teenager Receives Interim Settlement of Compensation for Birth Injuries

A teenager has received an interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries she sustained which left her permanently disabled.

In November 2001, Mary Conroy attended the Midland Regional Hospital in Portloaise believing that her waters had broken and that she was about to give birth to her first child. After consulting medical staff at the facility, Mary was sent home after being reassured that everything was fine. However,  three days later she attended the clinic of her private consultant obstetrician – Dr John Corristine – and, following an ultrasound, Mary insisted she be admitted into hospital.

Mary was admitted to the Midland Regional Hospital. Medical staff performed a CTG scan, which failed to pick up any signs of contractions. Mary was advised to take a bath – however insufficient hot water was available at the hospital in order for her to do so. Dr Corristine then prescribed medicine that should induce labour, and Mary was discharged from the hospital. The consultant subsequently failed to return during Mary´s labour or when she gave birth to her daughter.

Roisin was born the following morning, but suffered seizures soon after her birth. She was transferred to a hospital in Dublin with more suitable neo-natal facilities to receive specialist attention. However, Roisin´s condition failed to improve and she was diagnosed with suffering from severe disabilities. These were later diagnosed as dyskinetic cerebral palsy. She has been left permanently disabled, and relies on eye movement for all of her communication.

Mary blamed herself for Roisin´s devastating birth injuries, and insisted on having two further children delivered by Caesarean Section. Both she and her husband Kevin gave up their jobs to care for Roisin. In relation to Roisin’s condition, the hospital had told them that nothing could have been done to prevent the tragedy and that they were “just unlucky”.

However, after speaking with a solicitor, an investigation was launched into the events prior to Roisin´s birth. Following the legal advice of their solicitor, the couple made a claim for dyskinetic cerebral palsy compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Dr Corristine.  Both defendants denied their liability for Roisin´s injuries for almost two years. They maintained their position until five weeks before a court hearing was due to take place, at which point both the hospital and Dr Corristine admitted that mistakes had been made in the management of Mary´s pregnancy.

An interim settlement of dyskinetic cerebral palsy compensation amounting to €2.3 million was negotiated between the legal teams. However, as the compensation was being offered to a child, it needed to be approved at the High Court in Dublin to ensure that it was in her best interests.  The case was heard by Ms Justice Mary Irvine, and the settlement was approved.

At the hearing,   an apology was read to the family by an HSE representative and Dr Corristine. Ms Justice Mary Irvine then adjourned the case for two years so that a study of Roisin´s future needs can be made and to allow time for legislation to be passed allowing a structured compensation payment system.

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