All Posts in Category: Childbirth Medical Negligence

Record Medical Negligence Award for Boy (9) who Sustained Brain Injury as an Infant

Benjamin Gillick, a nine year old boy who sustained permanent brain damage after medical staff made a delayed diagnosis of infection following surgery when he was just an infant, has been awarded €32 million medical negligence compensation at the High Court award has been approved for a nine-year-old boy – the largest award in the history of the State.

The parents of the boy, Miriam and Andrew Gillick, pleaded with the judge not to approve the proposed award as they believed the money was not a sufficient amount for the rest of his life. They told the Judge: “It leaves us with a shortfall that will be imposed on ourselves or our children, or possibly our grandchildren.”

The Judge commented in Court that , when added to the interim settlement of €7.4m made thee years previously, this brings to over €32m the total amount of the compensation that will be paid out to the boy.

Presiding Judge Justice Kevin Cross explained that only a small part of the the awarded compensation, under €500,000, was being handed over in relation to the tragic injuries inflicted on Benjamin. The vast majority of the compensation awarded is being made in relation to the cost of Benjamin’s complex treatment, educational and accommodation needs for the rest of his life.

Judge Cross, in giving his approval for a final settlement offer of €25m, commented: “When the headlines come to be written it should be noted that no one is getting a bonanza”.

He went on to explain that Benjamin would only have been awarded around  €450,000 in relation to general damages for the injuries he still suffers from. The rest of the money to be made by the Children’s University Hospital at Temple Street to cover the expenses related to his future medical treatment.

Judge Cross told those present that compensation figure was already very high as, in relation to Benjamin, “thankfully he has a higher life expectancy and would have to be cared for long after his parents have departed”. The judge said it was very difficult to tale into account his (Benjamin’s) position in life in 60 years’ time when calculating to figure to be awarded.

Andrew Gillick, the boy’s father, told the Judge that he is worried with regard to the money being insufficient when compared to rates of return on investment in England, where the family have moved to. He went on to say that there has recently been a similar case decided in the UK where the compensation award was approximately €45m due to the costs of carers, therapies, aids and appliances, transport and education.

Benjamin was delivered prematurely at his birth along with his identical twin brother. After delivery he had to undergo a clinical procedure when he was just  11 months  of age at Temple Street Children’s Hospital to drain fluid from his brain. A shunt was placed to deal with this and the boy was later returned to hospital due to vomiting and feeling quite sick.

The High Court was informed that a shunt infection is a common complication of the process and the cause of the negligence was that for up to three days this possibility was not investigated. The court was also informed that Benjamin suffers with cerebral palsy, is quadriplegic, and cannot communicate verbally like other children of the same age.

 

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Medical Negligence Compensation Payouts of €268m Made by State Claims Agency in last two years

The overall amount of compensation paid out by the State Claims Agency (SCA) in relation to medical negligence claims totals over half a billion euro in the past two years.

New figures released by Minister for Health Simon Harris show that the amount of compensation paid out by the State Claims Agency (SCA) in 2018 was €268.45m for medical negligence cases – an increase of €18.6 million – or 7.5% – on the €249.77m paid out in 2017. This brings the total amount of compensation for medical negligence paid out in 2017-18 to €518.2m.

The figures were provided by the State Claims Agency (SCA)  in response to a a written Dáil question by Fianna Fáil’s Finance spokesman, Michael McGrath. It also reveals that the highest sum paid out last year under medical negligence was €15.5m in relation to a cerebral palsy case compensation claim.

Cases linked to birth negligence or cerebral palsy accounted for seven of the top ten medical negligence payouts in 2018. The figures release indicate that, in the seven cerebral palsy cases, a total of €60.3m compensation was paid out in order to provide adequate treatment for the individuals concerned for the remainder of their lives.

The remainder of the top ten was made up of cases that in the top ten payments concerned a pay-out of €6.3 million for a clinical procedure at surgery and a separate payout of €5.9m under the same category.

The lowest payout in the top ten was €4.37 million paid out concerning a clinical procedure in the Gynaecology service.

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Delayed Delivery may Have Caused Brain Injury High Court Told in Birth Injury Compensation Action

The High Court has been told that a girl with cerebral palsy may not have been inflicted with any brain injury had she been delivered ten minutes earlier.

Taking the birth injury compensation action through her mother Martine, Faye Walsh (7) sued the Health Service Executive and two consultant obstetricians, claiming that medical negligence and a breach of agreement in relation to the management and circumstances of her birth took place at University Hospital Galway on August 15, 2011. The defendants deny the allegations.

Mrs Walsh was a private patient of Dr Una Conway, a consultant obstetrician, throughout her pregnancy with Fay, Dr Conway and Dr Declan Egan, the second defendant obstetrician, run their own private medical practices at Brooklawn Practice, Brooklawn House, Galway West Business Park, and also practice as consultants in the Galway hospital.

Mrs Walsh opted for a private obstetrician as she had one previous birth by caesarean section and experienced serious abdominal injuries following a road accident in 2008. One of the main disputes in the legal action relates to the information that Mrs Walsh was given regarding the risks of a vaginal delivery. The defendants claim that the options and risks were explained and argue that Mrs Walsh wanted, and agreed to, a vaginal delivery.

The HSE denies that delivery was unreasonably delayed and said that vacuum assisted delivery using a plastic or metal cup attached to the baby’s head was also reasonable.

In her legal action Mrs Walsh says that she was aware that Dr Conway was on annual leave in August 2011 and would not be present at the delivery but claims that she had been advised by Dr Conway that Dr Egan would be there and was familiar with her history.

The defendants do not agree that Mrs Walsh was told Dr Egan would be present. They argue that Mrs Walsh was given an information sheet stating her delivery would be supervised, in the event of Dr Conway being absent, by a covering consultant obstetrician on call for the hospital.

Mrs Walsh claims that neither defendant obstetrician was called to the hospital when, or after, Ms Walsh went into labour about 11pm on Sunday August 14, 2011, despite requests for this by both her and her husband. The court was informed that the on call hospital obstetrician was called to the hospital from his home around 4.30am on the morning of August 15.

The official record of the birth shows that an obstetric registrar was also called and used a Kiwi cup to the baby’s head and that the on-call obstetrician completed the delivery of the baby at 4.55am. Faye was delivered in very poor health and had to be immediately resuscitated. She has spastic quadriplegia, is non verbal, a full time wheelchair user and will require 24-hour care for the rest of her life.

Most of her care is provided by her parents and she is a “happy, content and smiling child” who gets on well at her community primary school and loves the TV cartoon Peppa Pig, the judge was told.

The case is expected to last a number of weeks.

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Childbirth Death Compensation of €650,000 Awarded to Dead Woman’s Family for Nervous Shock

A High Court action for nervous shock has been settled for €650,000 in favour of the husband and son of a woman who died at the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) not long after having an emergency caesarean section.

31-year-old Nora Hyland, originally from Malaysia, passed away on the operating table at the NMH, Holles Street, Dublin, on February 13, 2012, just three hours following an emergency caesarean section procedure during the birth of her son Frederick. The hospital did not admit liability and denies the claims.

The Hylands’ legal representative, Sasha Louise Gayer, informed that the Hylands were satisfied with the settlement but were too upset to attend court. Ms Gayer informed the court that Frederick was delivered successfully but Ms Hyland began to quickly lose a lot of blood.

A subsequent inquest resulted in a verdict of medical misadventure.  The first-time mother had to wait almost 40 minutes for a blood transfusion after she experienced severe bleeding after an emergency birth.

In presenting his ruling on the cause of death, Dublin coroner Dr Brian Farrell ruled that the chief factor was cardiac arrest which occurred due to severe post-partum haemorrhage. However, he was unable to confirm that the delay in Mrs Hyland receiving blood was a “definite” cause of her death.

In addition to this the inquest was told that a labelling mistake in the laboratory led to a 37-minute delay in Mrs Hyland having a blood transfusion. Another issue was that no emergency supply units of O-negative, the universal blood type, were stored in operating theatres at the National Maternity Hospital at the time. Measures were implemented in theatre and a request for blood was processed just after midnight.  A blood transfusion was carried out around 40 minutes later.

Mr Hyland, (42)  Station Road, Portmarnock, Co Dublin had sued the NMH for nervous shock in relation to the traumatic circumstances at the time of his wife’s death.

 

 

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€9.1m Birth Injury Compensation Awarded to Boy (7) with Cerebral Palsy

The High Court has approved a €9.1m birth injury compensation settlement for a seven-year-old boy with cerebral palsy in relation to the circumstances of his birth at Cavan General Hospital in 2011.

The boy, Jarrah Folkman, is unable to talk or walk, and his mother – Elysha McCrudden – stated in the High Court on Tuesday she will never hear her son’s voice. Reacting to the settlement she said it will go a long way towards her son’s future treatment but she regretted that windows of opportunities for Jarrah had been lost.  She went on to say that she and Jarrah’s father Ben Folkman have been made feel that what happened was their fault at times over the last seven years.

Mr Justice Cross, in approving the birth injury compensation settlement against the Health Service Executive,  praised Jarrah’s parents for the care they have given him at all times since his birth.

Through his mother Jarrah, with an address at Station Road, Cootehill, Co Cavan, took the birth injury compensation action against the HSE in relation to the circumstances of his birth at Cavan General on April 19, 2011.

In the High Court it was stated that there was an alleged failure to correctly interpret the CTG trace which showed a number of decelerations when Ms McCrudden was admitted to the hospital on April 15, 2011. Ms McCrudden was sent home and she returned to the hospital two days later.

It was also alleged that after Ms McCrudden’s admission the initial CTG trace was not noted as decelerative and a plan was not put in place to continue close monitoring and and prepare for an expedited delivery.

Counsel for Jarrah, Denis McCollough SC, alleged that an unsafe set of conditions had persisted during the course of the labour.  The baby, it was claimed, should have been born on April 16. Mr McCollough told the court that Jarrah  was flat and unresponsive when he was finally delivered and required resuscitation.

Liability was accepted in the case which was before the court for assessment of final damages only.

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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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Girl (11) Damaged at Birth Awarded €10m Compensation Payout

The High Court has approved a €10m compensation settlement for an 11-year-old girl with cerebral palsy due to the circumstances of her birth at Mayo General Hospital.

This overall payment means that €12.2m is not the total amount paid to Rachel Gallagher of Straide, Foxford, Co Mayo.

Her legal representative Denis McCullough advised the court that Rachel’s parents felt strongly that they would like to complete the process with a final lump sum compensation payment. This is, he told the Hight Court, the Rachel and her family  found the ongoing process – including medical examinations and assessments before court appearances – extremely difficult.

Approving the birth injury compensation settlement against the HSE, President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly stated that this would have been Rachel’s third time in court. Prior to each Court appearance, she had to go through “a battery of tests and assessments” and this created a lot of trauma for Rachel and her family.

The judge said it was a good bith injury compensation settlement that would provide for Rachel for life. Ciara Hynes, Rachel’s mother, the HSE on her behalf in relation to the events around her birth on September 28, 2006.

Ms Hynes was taken to Mayo General on September 27 and the following morning they began to induce the birth and syntocinon was started after midday.

Rachel was delivered in poor condition. It was alleged there was a failure to adequately manage and monitor the labour, delivery and birth of the baby. The court heard negligence was accepted in the case. Senior Counsel Denis McCullough advised the court that Rachel required one-to-one care because she is in danger of falling.

Counsel told the court that she (Rachel) is currently in fifth class at school and it is hoped she will go on to attend both secondary school and university.

When the Judge announced the approval, Rachel put up her hand to be allowed to thank the judge, Mr Justice Kelly.

Mr Justice Kelly remarked said very few judges are thanked and he was very grateful to Rachel. He commented that it was a good settlement, which will provide Rachel with the care she will require for the remainder of her life.

 

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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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