Court Hears Syntocinon Use Resulted in Cerebral Palsy Birth Injuries

The High Court has approved a €2.1 million interim settlement of compensation after hearing that Syntocinon use resulted in cerebral palsy birth injuries.

Just last month, Mary Godfrey – the State Claims Agency´s clinical risk advisor – called for a nationwide consistent set of guidelines for the use of Syntocinon during labour to improve outcomes for mothers and babies, and to prevent more claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon being made against the HSE.

A little over two weeks after Ms Godfrey raised concerns about how the synthetic drug was being used in Irish hospitals, a case came before the High Court concerning how Syntocinon use resulted in cerebral palsy birth injuries in Cavan General Hospital in 2007.

The case concerned seven-year-old Patrick Brannigan, who was in poor condition when he was delivered by Caesarean Section on 20th July 2007. The court heard that after a CTG trace had shown signs of foetal distress, Syntocinon had been administered to Patrick´s mother to accelerate her labour.

However, the Syntocinon use resulted in cerebral palsy birth injuries when Patrick was starved of oxygen in the womb, and he now suffers from dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Due to his mismanaged birth, Patrick is barely able to communicate and is confined to a wheelchair.

Through his mother – Niamh Brannigan of Castleblayeny, County Monaghan – Patrick made a claim for compensation against Cavan General Hospital and the Health Service Executive, alleging that the synthetic drug should never be use when there are signs of foetal distress in the womb.

Cavan General Hospital admitted that Syntocinon use resulted in cerebral palsy birth injuries and the hospital apologised to Patrick and his family. A €2.1 interim settlement of compensation was negotiated but, as the claim was made on behalf of a minor, it first had to be approved by a judge.

This week at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard the circumstances leading up to Patrick´s birth. Judge Cross was also told that Patrick is a cheerful, good humoured boy who is cared for by his parents. The judge approved the interim settlement of compensation and adjourned the hearing for three years so that reports can be compiled on Patrick´s future needs.