Claim for Undiagnosed Complications during Pregnancy Heard in Court

A claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy that resulted in a child suffering spastic diplegic cerebral palsy has been heard at the High Court.

The claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy was bought by the child´s mother against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Cork University Maternity Hospital after her son – one of twin boys born on 5th October 2010 – was diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.

The High Court heard that a scan conducted in June 2010 revealed a low-lying placenta, and that a second scan in September 2010 indicated there was a risk of vasa praevia – a pregnancy complication in which babies blood vessels cross or run near the internal opening of the uterus.

It was alleged in the court action that the Cork University Maternity Hospital should have conducted a more specific scan in September 2010 to address the risk of vasa praevia, and that the hospital demonstrated a failure to exercise reasonable care at the antenatal stage of the pregnancy.

As a result of the alleged negligence, one of the twins suffered foetal distress in the womb. He now suffers from spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, resulting in mobility and cognitive difficulties. Despite being flown to Missouri for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy to help him walk for the first time, he requires a walker or a wheelchair whenever he gets tired or ill.

At the High Court the HSE testified it was not normal practice to carry out a second scan to address the risk of vasa praevia and that it contested liability in the claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy. However, the court also heard that the HSE had agreed to an interim settlement of compensation for spastic diplegic cerebral palsy amounting to €1.98 million.

After hearing that the boy – now six years of age – had won a National Children of Courage Award in 2014, and that the funds will be used to provide him with greater access to private physiotherapy, speech, language and occupational therapy, the interim settlement was approved. The case will return to the High Court in five years after the boy´s future needs have been assessed.