Settlement of Claim for Hospital Negligence at Sligo General Approved at Court

The settlement of a compensation claim for hospital negligence at Sligo General has been approved at the High Court in favour of a man brain damaged at birth.

On September 6th 1996, Thomas O´Connor was delivered at the Sligo General Hospital showing no signs of life due to being starved of oxygen in the womb. He was resuscitated and taken to the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, but suffered a heart attack on his way from the delivery theatre allegedly due to being incorrectly ventilated.

According to his mother, Ann O´Connor of Collooney in County Sligo, hospital negligence was responsible for both her son´s birth being avoidably delayed and the heart attack which contributed to the brain damage suffered by Thomas – who, since the age of twelve has lived in a residential home close to his family.

Due to his birth injuries, Thomas is spastic quadriplegic, blind and fed through a tube; and through his mother he made a compensation claim for hospital negligence at Sligo General. The Health Service Executive denied liability for Thomas´ injuries, and contested the compensation claim for hospital negligence at Sligo General.

Consequently, the claim for hospital negligence at Sligo General was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court. Judge Cross was told by expert witnesses that a CTG trace had been discontinued in the morning of Thomas´ birth despite there being clear evidence of foetal distress. This, it was claimed, delayed Thomas´ birth by up to four hours.

The judge also heard that the ventilation tube used to ventilate Thomas had been inserted at a depth of 14cms into Thomas´ lungs, instead of the usual 9cms to 10cms. The consequence of this alleged error was that Thomas was not ventilated effectively, due to which he suffered the heart attack and sustained further brain damage until he was again resuscitated.

Despite not admitting to hospital negligence at Sligo General, the Health Service Executive agreed to a €1.75 million settlement of compensation that will pay for Thomas´ continued care at the residential home in Collooney. The judge approved the settlement, saying he was delighted that the O´Connor´s legal ordeal had come to an end.