Judge Approves Compensation for Failing to Refer a Patient to a Specialist

A High Court judge has approved an interim settlement of compensation for failing to refer a patient to a specialist which resulted in a young girl being born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Isabelle Sheehan from Mallow in County Cork was delivered by emergency Caesarean Section at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in November 2004, after the results of an earlier blood test on her mother – Catherine – had revealed a sudden increase in the presence of antibodies.

Although the antibodies would have been in conflict with those of Isabelle´s father – Colm – Catherine Sheehan´s paediatric consultant had failed to refer Catherine to an expert in foetal medicine; and, when Isabelle was born, she was diagnosed with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

On Isabelle´s behalf, Catherine Sheehan made a claim for compensation for failing to refer a patient to a specialist; alleging that, had an expert in foetal medicine seen the results of the blood test in good time, Isabelle would not have been born with such devastating birth injuries.

At a hearing in October 2011, the paediatric consultant – Dr David Corr – admitted that he had made a mistake by failing to refer Catherine to specialist and, on that occasion, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill approved an initial settlement of compensation in the amount of €1.9 million.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill adjourned the original hearing for two years to allow for a structured compensation payment system to be introduced, but with no such facility yet in place, the case was heard again by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that a further interim settlement of compensation for failing to refer a patient to a specialist amounting to €635,000  had been agreed to pay for the care Isabelle will need for the next two years – by which time it is hoped that a more suitable solution is available as an option.

After hearing that Isabelle is “bright and intelligent”, and keeping up with children in her mainstream national school class with help from an assistant, Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the second settlement of compensation for failing to refer a patient to a specialist, and adjourned the case for a further two years.