All Posts in Category: Birth Accident Compensation Action

State Claims Agency Conference Hears Medical Negligence Represents 50% of Total State Payouts

Child-birth related medical negligence cases make up over half of the overall compensation awards issued by the State according to numbers released on Friday at a State Claims Agency (SCA) conference on patient safety.

This is a significant figures when it is considered that maternity services represent only 3% of the Health Service Executive (HSE) annual budget. The release also pointed to the fact that maternity related compensation settlements have also gone up by roughly 80%.

Speaking at the conference, Clinical Director of the HSE’s National Women and Infant Health Programme Dr Peter McKenna said that preventable brain damage in normally formed infants is the “single biggest risk” in the HSE nd referred to occurences of this as “the most egregious insult the heath service can cause to a service user”.

He (Dr McKenna) claimed that, by spending a relatively small percentage (5%) of the funds that are paid out in compensation settlements,  the HSE could cut these preventable incidents by half. This argument is further highlighted by the fact that  in 2014 the State made compensation payments of €58m in childbirth related negligence cases. Dr McKenna also said that this 2014 amount represents 54% of the totalical negligence compensation payouts by the State in that year.

He said, referring to the fact that only €500 million of the HSE’s €15 billion budget goes on maternity services: “This is massive for a part of the health service that accounts for 3 per cent of total expenditure.

“In the past, six, seven, eight million might have been a big settlement. Now the figure is running at €15 million. The number of cases hasn’t changed but the payout amount has. I don’t think that one cent of what the parents get will compensate them for having a child that does not live up to their expectations,” Dr McKenna said. “If you think I am complaining about the size of the payouts, I’m not.”

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HSE Agree €1m Compensation Settlement for Girl (13) Injured at Birth

In the High Court a 13-year-old girl, who was inflicted with a permanent disability due to a hip abnormality at birth not being diagnosed for six years, has settled her High Court Birth Injury Compensation action against the Health Service Executive for €1m.

The young girl, Nyomi Millea Melvey, can only walk for a period of three to five minutes before her hips seize up, her father Colin Melvey told the court. He told the court his daughter has done really well considering, but she has to work harder because of her disability. Mr Melvey added that Nyomi will also need three hip replacement operations throughout her life.

The condition, bilateral hip dysplasia was diagnosed, when the girl was six and, it was alleged, by then the options to address this were extremely limited.

Legal representative for Nyomi, Mr Liam Reidy, advised the Court that she was born with the condition where both hips were displaced, but that this was not diagnosed by physicians at the time. Nyomi, they said, had been examined on different times and there was an alleged failure to discover the abnormality that she displayed.

Through her mother Wendy Millea, Nyomi took the legal action against the HSE. Ms Millea had attended at Waterford Regional Hospital for antenatal care during her pregnancy. She gave birth to Nyomi was born on January 20, 2005, with bilateral hip dysplasia. It was at this time that the attending medical staff failed to spot the condition. The High Court was told that the condition was not diagnosed until February 2011.

It was also alleged there was a failure to recognise the underlying hip problem from simple observations despite the physical appearance of the child and concerns raised by her mother of Nyomi and an alleged failure to refer her for evaluation by an orthopaedic surgeon or a suitably qualified professional healthcare person.

The claims were denied.

Mr Justice Paul Butler approved the settlement of €1,000,000 in birth injury misdiagnosis compensation.

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Cerebral Palsy Against the HSE Settled for €1.9m

A 20-year-old woman, who suffers from cerebral palsy, has won a €1.9m interim from the HSE after the way her birth was managed.

Shauni Breen, who was born at Wexford General Hospital just 40 minutes after her healthy twin sister, suffers from cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia and is restricted to a wheelchair. The High Court was told, by Ms Breen’s Legal Representative, that the medical team present at the time did not recognise that it was a high-risk labour.

Ms Breen, who now lives in Glanmire, Co Cork, Ms Breen began the birth compensation case against the HSE due to the events at the time of her delivery on December 30, 1997. Their mother Marie Foley was taken to Wexford General Hospital at 5am on the morning in question.  Following her healthy twin sister Nicole’s  birth at 6.10am the delivery of Shauni lasted for around 40 minutes and was, allegedly, handled in a negligent manner. There was no anesthetist present or adequate supporting team present to deal with every possible eventuality.

The HSE denied these claims in the High Court and argued that management of the birth complied with standard best practice and was consistent with normal procedures in Irish maternity units at the time of the birth in 1997.

Ms Breen’s team of legal representatives claimed that Shauni was showing an  abnormal presentation prior to delivery and should have been delivered by caesarean section within 15 minutes of Nicole’s birth. However, due to issues in the delivery of Ms Breen, she had to be resuscitated and was taken to another hospital.

High Court Judge Kevin Cross approved the €1.9m cerebral palsy birth injury compensation settlement. Ms Breen will come back to court in five years’ time when her future care needs will be assessed in relation to further required costs.

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Boy (8) Awarded Birth Accident Injury Compensation Award of €65,000

The High Court has approved a birth injury compensation settlement of €65,000 for a boy, now aged eight years old. Dara Brennan allegedly experienced a facial injury during his delivery at the Coombe Hospital on November 12, 2009.

It is thought that Dara, Brayton Park, Kilcock, Co Kildare, suffered the injury to his face as a result of an attempted forceps delivery at the hospital.

To this day resultant scarring and two indentations on the right side of his face remain visible when he smiles.

Lorraine Brennan, acting on behalf of her son, took the compensation action against the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital due to the alleged negligence Dara encountered during his birth.

Legal Counsel alleged that the incorrect use of forceps during the delivery inflicted the scars to right side of Dara Brennan’s face. Legal representatives for the boy claimed that there was an absence of the required level of care, competence, judgment and skill appropriate during the delivery of the boy.

It was argued that a more senior or experienced doctor in obstetrics should have attended the birth of Dara Brennan. Counsel for the Coombe Hospital denied these claims.

The High Court was advised by Dara’s legal team that liability was fully contested in the case. In addition, medical experts could not agree on the specific circumstances of the delivery.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross remarked, while approving the birth scarring compensation settlement said that it was as close to complete  compensation as possible for Dara Brennan.

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Medical Negligence Compensation Settlement in Malak Thawley Legal Action

An undisclosed compensation settlement has been agreed in relation to the medical negligence involved in the death of a woman, Malak Thawley, during surgery for an ectopic pregnancy in 2016.

Her husband, Alan Thawley settled his High Court action for medical negligence compensation.

Mrs Thawley, , a teacher and a US citizen, was pregnant with her  first when she died during a surgical  procedure at the Holles Street hospital on May 8, 2016. She was 34 years old.

Mr Thawley told the court last week that the death of his partner was due to a “cascade of negligence”. His legal representative, Liam Reidy SC, said that the doctor who was responsible for the surgical procedure that resulted in Malak’s death was an inexperienced junior surgeon.

He went on to say that the negligent actions of the medics included taking the decision was taken to cool Mrs Thawley’s brain with ice and then finding that there was no ice in the hospital. Following this two doctors were sent to a close by pub to get ice.

Presiding judge, Mr Justice Anthony Barr was advised that he could strike out the case as it had been settled for compensatory damages only and aggravated or exemplary damages were not included. There were no further details of the medical negligence settlement were provided.

Alan Thawley, speaking to the press outside the Court, said that he was glad to have come to a settlement after a long and difficult process. He remarked: “There is no compensation that could replace the profound loss of my wife’s untimely and needless death”.

Mr Thawley added: “The proceedings were brought forth to expose the cascade of negligence demonstrated by the hospital”.

He will also assisting with the Department of Health’s Ministerial Inquiry to help to prevent other people suffering, as he has, going forward.

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EMA Hearing on Epilim Addressed by Irish Woman

A Co Meath mother of three sons, who have suffered major illness as a result of complication caused  by the Epilepsy treatment drug Epilim, has addressed at the European Medicines Agency review (EMA) into its use by pregnant women.

In September 2017), Karen Keely, a representative of the Foetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome Forum impressed on the review hearing the ramifications that her sons have experienced due to her being prescribed the drug at the time she was pregnant with them. They will now face issue over the remainder of their lives, two of them can neverhope to live a ‘normal’ life.

Ms Keely said: ““I have been mourning my children since the day they came into my life and I’m determined to not let this injustice happen to other families in the same way that it has happened to mine.”

Karen implored that a national register in Ireland of those who were on the medicine and people who are being prescribed it in the future must be set up. In addition to this Ms Keely asked for more research into the scale of the problem and accountability to be funded and supported. According to her the HSE had information available on the Internet but wider publicity about it’s available is necessary.

The EMA public hearing, which begun on 9 March 2017 at the request of the French medicines regulator, ANSM hosted citizens of six European Union member states describing their experience to the PRAC (Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee) members attending. it has been acknowledged that Epilim can cause physical deformities, brain damages and autism in children whose mothers are treated with it when they are pregnant.  At present being considered a major factor in 40 cases of birth defects and disabilities, made known to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) in recent times.

The outcomes of the EMA review are predicted to lead to new recommendations regarding the use of Epilim in Ireland will be drawn up by the HPRA.

 

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€15m Birth Injury Compensation for Boy (4) who was Deprived Oxygen at Birth

The High Court has approved a €15 million Birth Injury Compensation settlement for a boy, now aged 4, who was injured during his birth at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

The hospital apologised to Eoin McCallig from Dunkineely in Co Donegal, and his parents for his injuries and for the devastating consequences for the family.

Following an apology issued by the hospital to the boy, Eoin McCallig his father, Anthony, said the family could forgive a mistake. However, they could not forgive the way HSE treated their family and others in similar cases.

Mr McCallig said that there must be a “better way” of handling cases involving catastrophically injured children than via litigation lasting years to a “bitter end” and last-minute settlement offers. He advised the High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly that the culture and procedures need to change.

He claimed that the HSE has spent approximately €800m in the course of the last ten years in fighting these cases. Mr McCallig stated that this money could be put to better use.

He said the settlement of €15m birth injury compensation settlement would never change what happened to Eoin, but it would provide some solace as they knew that Eoin would now be looked after if anything happened to his parents.

The Coombe Hospital, the court was told, stopped monitoring Eoin’s heart rate at 9.30am on the morning of his birth.

Eoin’s parents claimed that if he had been monitored after this, medical staff would have seen he was in distress before he was born at around 11.30am. The court heard he had been deprived of oxygen in the 20 minutes just before he was born.

It was claimed that if Eoin had been monitored and delivered early, he would not have suffered such injuries. The court was told Eoin was a very clever boy, but he cannot walk or talk and can communicate only with his eyes and expressions.

In a statement released through their solicitor, Michael Boylan, Eoin McCallig’s parent said the birth injury settlement was welcome but the family “would hand this €15 million settlement back in a heartbeat if Eoin could get back what was robbed from him in those two precious hours before his birth”.

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€7.5m Compensation Award After Brain Injury Suffered Before Birth

A boy who was inflicted with a brain injury just before has born when his mother was thrown from a car as she was on her way to have a final pregnancy scan has settled his High Court Baby Injury Compensation action for €7.5m.

After the accident, Cian Hammel had to be delivered by emergency Caesarean section in hospital. The High Court was told that in the accident his mother, aged 17 at the time, was thrown from the seven-seater vehicle in which she was a back-seat passenger. The driver of the car did not have motor insurance.  The accident occurred on February 3, 2009 near Manhanagh, Screen, Co Wexford. The boy now has difficulty walking and is unsteady on his feet and also has difficulties with language.

Taking the Baby Injury Compensation action through his grandmother Ann, Cian Hammel of Ford Court, Kilmuckridge, Co Wexford sued the driver of the car, Simon Jordan, of Monaseed, High Fort, Gorey, Co Wexford.

The Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), which handles compensation claims for victims of uninsured driving, was also sued as a result of the accident.

The car which was driven by Mr Jordan allegedly went out of control and flipped causing Cian’s mother Roisin Hammel, who was in a rear seat, to be flung from the vehicle. Senior Counsel Rosario Boyle told the court that Roisin, who was studying for her Leaving Cert, had accepted a lift to attend her final scan.

Additionally, it was alleged that Mr Jordan had overtaken another vehicle when it was not safe to do so and that he was driving at an excessive speed given the weather conditions. These claims were denied.

Ms Boyle said Ms Hammel was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. However, the MIBI later acknowledged that, had she been wearing a seat belt, the consequences for Cian would not have been better.

She said Ms Hammel’s waters broke and, due to this, she had to have an emergency caesarean section in hospital due to foetal distress. Ms Hammel, counsel said, was told to prepare for the worst and when Cian was delivered. He had to be resuscitated and there was multi-organ failure.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the baby injury compensation settlement and said he hoped it will provide for Cian’s needs for the future.

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Class Action for Side Effects of Sodium Valproate Started in France

A class action for the side effects of sodium valproate has been started in France on behalf of children who sustained foetal valproate syndrome in the womb.

Sodium valproate is an active ingredient of the drug Epilim. Epilim was introduced in Ireland in 1983 after successfully treating patients in France for epilepsy and bipolar disorder for almost twenty years. Because it works by stabilising electrical activity in the brain, Epilim has also been prescribed for migraine and chronic pain.

Unbeknown to the medical profession in Ireland, pregnant women taking Epilim break down the sodium valproate and it is absorbed into the bloodstream as valproic acid. The valproic acid travels along the bloodstream and into the womb, where it can have an adverse effect on the development of the foetus. Children who have sustained foetal valproate syndrome in the womb have been born with a wide range of health issues from autism to spina bifida, and from a cleft palate to kidney development problems.

The side effects of sodium valproate during pregnancy were identified before the drug was introduced in Ireland, but the evidence was allegedly covered up due to not being sufficiently conclusive. Small scale studies have also failed to conclusively prove a link between Epilim and the side effects of sodium valproate during pregnancy, but now France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) has looked deeper into the issue and produced an alarming report.

ANSM researched the health of 8,701 children born between 2007 and 2014 whose mothers were known to have taken the French-branded equivalent of Epilim during their pregnancies. The agency believes it has identified up to 4,100 children suffering from the side effects of sodium valproate and discovered that hundreds of stillbirths during the period were also attributable to foetal valproate syndrome.

The results of ANSM´s research have prompted a class action against in France against the manufacturer of Epilim – Sanofi – on behalf of the children who sustained foetal valproate syndrome in the womb. The parents of the children claim that Sanofi did not do enough to warn the medical profession of the risks associated with taking Epilim during pregnancy and the side effects of sodium valproate.

 In Ireland, it is not known how many children have been diagnosed with foetal valproate syndrome. A support group – the FACS Forum – has called on the government to conduct an audit to identify the scale of the problem in Ireland and what support measures are needed for families. For further information, the FACS Forum can be reached via the disability-federation.ie website, or you can speak with a solicitor.

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Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Erb´s Palsy

A judge at the High Court has approved a €530,000 settlement of compensation for Erb´s palsy in favour of a six-year-old boy from County Kerry.

The boy on whose behalf the claim was made was born at Kerry General Hospital on March 22nd 2010. However, rather than being delivered by Caesarean section as had been requested by his mother on three separate occasions, the boy was delivered naturally with the assistance of a vacuum cup.

Due to the baby´s size, his shoulder got stuck as he passed through his mother´s birth canal and he suffered shoulder dystocia as medical staff tried to free him. Due to the force that was used during the procedure, the boy will now have a weakened left arm for the rest of his life.

On his son´s behalf, the boy´s father claimed compensation for Erb´s palsy against the Health Service Executive (HSE). Liability for the boy´s injuries was initially contested, but eventually the parties agreed on a settlement of compensation amounting to €530,000.

As the claim for compensation for Erb´s palsy had been made on behalf of a child, the settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the boy´s best interests. The approval hearing took place earlier this week at the High Court before Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the hearing, Judge Cross was told that an ultrascan had shown the boy to be a large baby and, because of his potential size, his mother had requested a Caesarean section delivery during a consultation and again when she was admitted to hospital in labour.

The judge also heard that the boy is very good at maths and has learned to write with his left hand, although he is unable to close buttons or tie shoes and will struggle at sports later in life. The judge approved the settlement of compensation for Erb´s palsy and wished the family well for the future.

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