The High Court has approved an interim settlement of dyskinetic cerebral palsy compensation for a twelve year old girl who suffered birth injuries due to the negligence of an obstetric consultant.
Mary Conroy attended the Midland Regional Hospital in Portloaise on 10th November 2001 believing that her waters had broken while pregnant with her first child. Mary was sent home after being reassured that everything was fine, but three days later attended the clinic of her private consultant obstetrician – Dr John Corristine – and, following an ultrasound, Mary insisted she be admitted into hospital.
At the Midland Regional Hospital, a CTG scan failed to show any sign of contractions, and 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 left the hospital. He 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 and was transferred to a hospital in Dublin with more suitable neo-natal facilities. However, Roisin´s condition failed to improve and she was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy – as a result of which she is permanently disabled and can only communication with eye movement.
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, believing what 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, and 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 until – five weeks before a court hearing was due to take place – 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 and, at the High Court in Dublin, the settlement was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine after 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.