A High Court legal action against the Health Service Executive has been settled in favour of a mother whose baby died ten months after being delivered at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise.
While the terms of the settlement are confidential, Justice Garrett Simons was informed that settlement was agreed between Katelyn McCarthy’s mother Sharon McCarthy and the HSE.
In an RTÉ Prime Time in 2014 Katelyn was portrayed as Baby X in a documentary report that investigated the deaths of a number of babies at the hospital in Co Laois.
Representing Ms McCarthy in Court, Alistair Rutherdale BL instructed by solicitor Roger Murray, informed Justice Simons that after the documentary was broadcast in 2014, two investigations were conducted, but Katelyn’s parents were not informed about the findings of these.
It was claimed that a delay in getting the opinion of an obstetrician and a subsequent failure to speed up the child’s delivery by emergency caesarean section resulted in further complications for the infant. Ms McCarthy informed the court that the medical expert for the plaintiff would argue that Katelyn should have been delivered prior to 2am. Additionally it was claimed that there was a failure to investigate the foetal well-being by obtaining a foetal blood sample. Following the delivery of her daughter Ms McCarthy was informed by medical staff that the outcome was unavoidable.
The court was also informed that there have already been two separate HSE investigations to look into Katelyn’s death. These investigations resulted in two reports, one in July 2009 and another in March 2012 being produced. Ms McCarthy was not involved in any way in either investigation and was not even informed of the existence of the reports until 2014.
She told the court: “I subsequently heard of media coverage of certain deaths in Portlaoise Hospital and only learned at that time that Katelyn was one of these”.
Justice Simons said he was giving his approval for the compensation settlement and the division of a statutory mental distress payment which in this case was just over €25,000. he remarked that was connected to the sad passing of the infant Katelyn McCarthy. he also ruled the solatium should be divided between the parents Sharon and Thomas as he said they had experienced the most severe emotional distress.