A judge has approved a settlement of compensation for an adverse reaction to antisepsis in favour of a child who suffered permanent scarring to her back.
On 19th October 2012, Ann Ryan gave birth to a daughter at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin just twenty-five weeks into her pregnancy. Weighing just 840 grams, baby Sophia was transferred to the Special Care Unit, where various catheters were inserted to administer drugs and help with her feeding.
To prevent skin sepsis, the areas where the catheters were inserted were cleaned with chlorhexidine, rather than povidone-iodine, as part of the National Children´s Research Centre´s “SKA trial”. Ann had previously agreed for Sophia to participate in this trial on the grounds that her child would not experience any discomfort or side effects.
However, the following morning, hospital staff noticed a large area of redness and a small area of ulceration on Sophia´s back. The redness was diagnosed as being an adverse reaction to the chlorhexidine and, because Sophia was displaying signs of distress, was administered morphine intravenously.
Two days after her birth, Sophia was administered Fucidim – a cream used to prevent bacterial skin infections – but this resulted in Sophia suffering a deep dermal skin burn. The Fucidim treatment was discontinued the following day and an alternate cream administered – Duoderm. However, by then, the damage had been done, and – in May 2014 – the hospital´s consultant paediatric dermatologist diagnosed Sophia with a scar consistent with a chemical burn.
Through her father – Tom Ryan of Rathdrum in County Wicklow – Sophia claimed compensation for an adverse reaction to antisepsis, alleging that the National Maternity Hospital had been negligent in her treatment, that due to the hospital´s negligence the affected skin will be permanently discoloured and that she will likely require a skin graft in the future.
Although liability was not admitted, the hospital offered to settle the claim for €100,000. As the claim for compensation for an adverse reaction to antisepsis had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement first had to be approved by a judge. Consequently, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Richard Humphries was told the details of Sophia´s treatment after her premature birth.
After hearing that Sophia spent 135 days in hospital after her birth, but has suffered no developmental delays due to her experience, the judge approved the settlement of compensation for an adverse reaction to antisepsis plus costs. The settlement will now be paid into court funds until Sophia reaches the age of eighteen.