A High Court judge has approved an interim settlement of compensation for delayed birth cerebral palsy for a teenage girl who was deprived oxygen in the womb, allegedly due to medical negligence.
On 11th October 1999, Mary Malee (now 14 years of age) was born at the Mayo General Hospital by emergency Caesarean section after there had been an alleged delay by hospital staff in communicating her mother´s condition and finding a consultant to assist with the delivery.
Two days prior to Mary´s birth, her mother – Maura Malee of Swinford, County Mayo – had attended the consultant who had delivered her three previous children, but was told that, as he was about to start treatment for cancer, he would be unavailable for Mary´s delivery.
The consultant advised Maura that arrangements would be made for another consultant to be present at the birth, but the following day when Maura attended her GP, she was advised to go to hospital immediately as she was displaying symptoms of pre-eclampsia.
On arrival at Mayo General Hospital, Maura was transferred to the labour ward, where she underwent a CTG shortly before 6:00am which revealed a series of decelerations. The first consultant that was contacted was unavailable and a second consultant arrived shortly before 7:00am.
According to evidence in court, there was an alleged delay in communicating the foetal distress in the womb, and the Caesarean procedure did not get underway until after 7:20am – due to which, it was claimed, Mary suffered from a lack of oxygen and was born with cerebral palsy.
Through her early years, Mary has been able to attend mainstream school and, despite being confined to a wheelchair, hopes to attend university when she grows older. She is currently cared for by her parents, but aware that this arrangement could not last forever, Maura Malee made a claim for compensation for delayed birth cerebral palsy on behalf of her daughter against the Mayo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
In the claim for delayed birth cerebral palsy compensation it was alleged that there had been a failure to intervene and initiate a Caesarean delivery in a timely manner, or to ensure that a paediatrician was present at Mary´s birth – who was known to be suffering distress and was likely to require expert resuscitation
Both the Mayo General Hospital and the HSE their liability for Mary´s birth injuries; but, as Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court was told, both agreed to an interim settlement of compensation for delayed birth cerebral palsy amounting €1.5 million and a further assessment of Mary´s needs within two years pending the introduction of a structured compensation system.
In court, Mary read out a statement in which she remarked “It would have been appreciated had the HSE/Mayo General Hospital said they were sorry”, after which Judge Irvine approved the settlement of compensation for a delayed birth cerebral palsy and adjourned the hearing.