A High Court judge has approved the €240,000 settlement of a five-year-old girl´s claim for a facial scar due to hospital negligence after her birth.
Abigail Byrne was born at the Cork University Maternity Hospital in January 2011 after a difficult delivery during which forceps were used. Following her birth, an elasticated bandage was placed around Abigail´s head and left in situ for thirty hours – leaving a red mark ten centimetres across and one centimetre in depth across her forehead.
At the time, Abigail´s mother – Jennifer Byrne of Whitechurch in County Cork – was told that the mark was temporary and should disappear within a week. However, when a public health nurse visited the mother and child after their discharge from hospital, the nurse told Jennifer that the mark was likely to be permanent and she should seek medical advice.
On finding out that it would not be possible to conceal the mark by plastic surgery until Abigail was in her late teens, Jennifer made a claim for a facial scar due to hospital negligence on her daughter´s behalf. In her legal action against the Health Service Executive (HSE), Jennifer alleged that there had been a failure to position the elasticated bandage correctly and that it had been left on for too long.
Liability for Abigail´s injury was admitted by the HSE, and the claim for a facial scar due to hospital negligence was heard earlier this month by Mr Justice Kevin Cross for the assessment of damages. After being told that Abigail´s parents had delayed her christening for a week to give the mark a chance to fade, Judge Cross adjourned the hearing so that settlement negotiations could take place.
When the hearing resumed earlier this week, the judge was told that a €240,000 settlement of the claim for a facial scar due to hospital negligence had been agreed. Judge Cross approved the settlement, saying it was a reasonable one in the circumstances, and closed the hearing by wishing Abigail all the best for the future.