All Posts Tagged: cerebral palsy birth injury compensation

Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Birth Brain Injuries

A High Court judge has approved a $15 million settlement of compensation for birth brain injuries due to alleged negligence in favour of a nine-year-old boy.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the nine-year-old boy was born at Cork University Hospital at 9:00pm on August 11th 2008 after allegedly showing signs of foetal distress throughout the day. Among the alleged errors made by hospital staff prior to the boy´s delivery there had been a failure of skill in clinical history taking, and in the examination of the baby and his mother.

It was also alleged there had been an unreasonable delay in acting upon a CTG trace that indicated a variable decline in the foetal heart rate. As a result, it was claimed, the boy suffered brain birth injuries. Due to cerebral palsy and epilepsy, the boy suffers daily seizures, has visual and cognitive impairments, is confined to a wheelchair and requires full-time care. He will never be able to live independently.

Soon after the boy´s birth, his parents claimed compensation for birth brain injuries against Cork University Hospital and the HSE. Liability was eventually admitted in February last year after an eight-year wait, during which time the boy´s parents provided the majority of his care due to community services in Kerry being “almost non-existent” the boy´s mother told Judge Cross.

Prior to the judge approving the settlement of compensation for birth brain injuries, a statement was read to the family by representatives of Cork University Hospital, in which the hospital apologized for the errors that led to the boy´s brain injuries. The boy´s mother also read a statement to the court in which she described her son as a very happy boy who like being out on the fresh air.

Approving the settlement of compensation for birth brain injuries, Judge Cross ordered €720,000 of the settlement to be paid to the boy´s parents as special damages and the remainder to be paid into court. The judge said it was a very good settlement, and he wished the boy and his family well for the future.

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Settlement of Compensation for Brain Damage at Birth Approved in Court

A €15 million lump sum settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth has been approved at the High Court in favour of a ten-year-old boy.

The boy was born by emergency Caesarean Section at Kerry General Hospital on May 25th 2006 following a catalogue of errors by hospital staff. Among a series of systematic failures resulting in the boy´s delivery being avoidably delayed by two hours, the consultant obstetrician was not made aware of a worrisome heart-rate pattern, the possibility of foetal hypoxia was not considered, and no action was taken on a CTG trace indicating foetal distress.

Due to the avoidable delay, the boy suffered devastating brain damage and was diagnosed with mixed dyskinetic spastic cerebral palsy. Now ten years of age, he requires 24-hour care, cannot speak and is confined to a wheelchair. To exacerbate the boy´s injuries, the HSE failed to admit liability for nine years, during which time the boy´s family had to care for him on their own without the support they should have received from the state.

The HSE only admitted liability early last year after being threatened with aggravated damages, and an interim settlement of €2.7 million compensation for brain damage at birth was rushed through the courts. Yesterday the family was back in court for the approval of a final lump sum settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth amounting to €15 million – an amount that was described as “commercial common and legal sense” by presiding judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

Approving the settlement, Judge Kelly paid tribute to the boy´s parents for the care of their son, and added while no money would compensate the boy and his family, it was the only form of redress the law could provide. He hoped it would give peace of mind that there is a fund to care for the boy´s needs into the future. As the boy is a ward of court, the settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth will be paid into court funds and managed by court authorities.

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Claim for Birth Injuries against Sligo General Hospital Heard in Court

A claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital has been heard in the High Court ahead of the approval of an interim settlement of compensation.

In May 2010, the boy – on whose behalf the claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital was made – was born by emergency Caesarean Section, more than two hours after a CTG trace had indicated he was suffering foetal distress in the womb. Due to the avoidable delay, the boy was starved of oxygen and now – six years of age – he suffers from cerebral palsy.

Although the boy has since moved to Canada, he made a claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital through his mother. On behalf of Sligo General Hospital, the Health Service Executive (HSE) quickly acknowledged responsibility for the boy´s cerebral palsy injury and negotiations began to settle the claim. During mediation, HSE personnel not only apologised for a failure in its duty of care, but explained to the boy´s parents how the failure occurred.

Eventually it was agreed that the boy should receive an interim compensation settlement of €740,000 to cover the costs of his past care and the care he will need over the next five years. However, as the claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the boy´s best interests.

The approval hearing took place at the High Court, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the circumstances surrounding the boy´s birth and the details of the settlement negotiations. As well as praising the boy´s parents for the care they had provided him with over the past six years, he commended the HSE for its attitude in the case.

Commenting that an apology and an explanation was “absolutely something to be encouraged”, Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of cerebral palsy compensation and adjourned the claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital for five years. In five years, once assessments have been conducted to evaluate the boy´s future needs, the family hope that the option of a structured payment system will be in place to ensure their son´s financial security.

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Claim for Undiagnosed Complications during Pregnancy Heard in Court

A claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy that resulted in a child suffering spastic diplegic cerebral palsy has been heard at the High Court.

The claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy was bought by the child´s mother against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Cork University Maternity Hospital after her son – one of twin boys born on 5th October 2010 – was diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.

The High Court heard that a scan conducted in June 2010 revealed a low-lying placenta, and that a second scan in September 2010 indicated there was a risk of vasa praevia – a pregnancy complication in which babies blood vessels cross or run near the internal opening of the uterus.

It was alleged in the court action that the Cork University Maternity Hospital should have conducted a more specific scan in September 2010 to address the risk of vasa praevia, and that the hospital demonstrated a failure to exercise reasonable care at the antenatal stage of the pregnancy.

As a result of the alleged negligence, one of the twins suffered foetal distress in the womb. He now suffers from spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, resulting in mobility and cognitive difficulties. Despite being flown to Missouri for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy to help him walk for the first time, he requires a walker or a wheelchair whenever he gets tired or ill.

At the High Court the HSE testified it was not normal practice to carry out a second scan to address the risk of vasa praevia and that it contested liability in the claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy. However, the court also heard that the HSE had agreed to an interim settlement of compensation for spastic diplegic cerebral palsy amounting to €1.98 million.

After hearing that the boy – now six years of age – had won a National Children of Courage Award in 2014, and that the funds will be used to provide him with greater access to private physiotherapy, speech, language and occupational therapy, the interim settlement was approved. The case will return to the High Court in five years after the boy´s future needs have been assessed.

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Final Settlement Approved in Delayed Birth Medical Negligence Claim

The final €5.56 million settlement of a delayed birth medical negligence claim made on behalf of a sixteen-year-old girl has been approved at the High Court.

Mary Malee was born at the Mayo General Hospital on 11th October 1999 by emergency Caesarean section after a deceleration of the foetal heart rate had been identified. However, due to no consultant being immediately available to assist with the delivery, Mary´s birth was delayed by eighty minutes. During this time, Mary suffered foetal distress and was starved of oxygen. She was born in a poor condition having sustained brain damage and now suffers from cerebral palsy.

Maura Malee from Swinford, County Mayo – Mary´s mother – made a delayed birth medical negligence claim on behalf of her daughter. In her legal action, Maura alleged that the Mayo General Hospital had failed in its duty of care to ensure a consultant was available once the deceleration of the foetal heart rate had been identified. The hospital´s medical negligence – Maura claimed – resulted in the failure to deliver Mary in a timely manner and her subsequent injury.

In early 2014, a €1.5 million interim settlement of the delayed birth medical negligence claim was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. The judge adjourned the case for two years in order to allow time for a system of periodic payments to be introduced. With no system of period payments yet available, and with the family not wanting “ongoing engagement with the HSE and the courts”, Mary and her parents returned to the High Court to hear the approval of the final settlement of the delayed birth medical negligence claim.

At the hearing before Mr Justice Peter Kelly, the court heard a statement read to Mary in which the Mayo General Hospital apologised for “the many challenges that you have faced as a result of the treatment provided to your mother Maura at the time of your birth”. Judge Kelly approved the €5.56 million final settlement of the delayed birth medical negligence claim – describing Mary achievements in attending mainstream school and planning to go to university as “heroic”.

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Settlement of Medical Negligence Claim against the Rotunda Hospital Approved

A judge at the High Court has approved a €3 million interim settlement of a young boy´s medical negligence claim against the Rotunda Hospital.

On 20th February 2004, Mohammad Daud Assad was delivered by emergency C-Section at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin after a deterioration in his foetal heart rate had been identified. Tragically Mohammad was deprived of oxygen in the womb and needed resuscitating after his birth.

Mohammad now suffers from cerebral palsy, is unable to speak and has both physical and mental disabilities. Although he attends a mainstream school, Mohammad will require full-time support for the rest of his life.

Mohammad´s mother – Alia Muryem Assad from Ballyfermot in Dublin – made a medical negligence claim against the Rotunda Hospital, alleging that there had been a delay in summoning an obstetrician after the deterioration of Mohammad´s heart rate had been identified and, as a result, the C-Section operation was avoidably delayed.

It was also alleged in the medical negligence claim against the Rotunda hospital that the hospital had failed to properly assess Alia on her admission into the hospital and consider the possibility of a placental function failure as she was ten days overdue. Alia arrived at the hospital at 9:00am in the morning, but Mohammad was not born until 10:30pm that evening.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that liability for Mohammad´s birth injury had only been acknowledged within the last two weeks. He also heard that an amount of €3 million compensation had been agreed as an interim settlement of the medical negligence claim against the Rotunda Hospital.

Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of the claim, commenting that the way in which the extended family had rallied round to help Mohammad´s parents “restored one´s faith in humanity”. The judge then adjourned the medical negligence claim against the Rotunda Hospital for six years, when an assessment of Mohammad´s future requirements will be carried out.

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HSE and SCA at Odds over Medical Negligence Court Cases in Ireland

The Director General of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the State Claims Agency have fallen out over medical negligence court cases in Ireland.

The disagreement over medical negligence court cases in Ireland blew up last week when Tony O´Brien – the Director General of the HSE – told the Oireachtas health committee that the State Claims Agency had an “unrealistic” view about risk and safety in healthcare and was too eager to defend medical negligence claims for compensation.

Saying that the adversarial framework used by the Agency delayed the payment of medical negligence compensation to plaintiffs who had suffered a loss, an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition deterioration, he asked “why all that trauma for people to get what they need.”

“These cases go on for up to 10 years and the State loses 99 per cent of them,” Mr O´Brien claimed, and he suggested the establishment of a fund that would support a different system of resolving claims for compensation that would not involve the parents of children that had suffered catastrophic birth injuries having to endure medical negligence court cases in Ireland.

While acknowledging that there had to be a level of accountability, Mr O´Brien also claimed that medical negligence court cases in Ireland were also damaging to the healthcare professionals called to give evidence in them. He said that, although the healthcare professionals were not facing criminal prosecution, they had to endure “show trials” when the outcome of the trials was 99 percent likely to be in the plaintiff´s favour.

In response to Mr O´Brien´s testimony to the Oireachtas health committee, the State Claims Agency issued a statement on Thursday evening contesting some of the Director General´s claims. The statement claims that 97 percent of cases are resolved without medical negligence court cases in Ireland and, in those in which liability is contested, the cases are resolved in the Agency´s favour 75 percent of the time.

Just two months ago the State Claims Agency published a review of maternity and gynaecology services in Ireland. In the review it was revealed that the total expenditure on cerebral palsy compensation claims had increased by 77 percent from 2010 to 2014. The large increase in compensation payments was partly attributed to more birth injury compensation claims being resolved with lump sum payments rather than interim compensation payments due to the failure of the Oireachtas to introduce a system of periodic payments.

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Unsuccessful Challenge to High Court Award of Cerebral Palsy Compensation by HSE

An unsuccessful challenge to a High Court award of cerebral palsy compensation is likely to be taken to the Supreme Court by the Health Service Executive.

Gill Russell from Aghada in County Cork was born at the Erinville Hospital on 12th July 2006, suffering from dyskinetic cerebral palsy after a “prolonged and totally chaotic” delivery. Gill´s mother – Karen – made a compensation claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE) for medical negligence, and received an interim High Court award of cerebral palsy compensation in 2012.

In December 2014, Gill´s compensation claim against the HSE was settled with a lump sum High Court award of cerebral palsy compensation amounting to €13.5 million. The HSE appealed the value of the High Court award of cerebral palsy compensation – arguing that Mr Justice Kevin Cross had used a lower rate of interest than was traditionally used in Irish courts to calculate the future value of the settlement.

At the Appeals Court this week, a three-judge panel upheld Judge Cross´ settlement. The judges said that using the “traditional” formula would mean that a catastrophically injured person would have to take “unjust and unacceptable” risks with investing the lump sum to ensure their financial security. They added that a seriously injured child should not be compared with a prudent investor.

Announcing the Appeals Court verdict, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said it was not the courts´ function to inquire what a claimant was likely to do with their award for the purposes of determining its value. She added that the Russell family and the HSE would not be in court had the government not gone back on promises to introduce legislation that would allow for a periodic payment system of compensation.

Unfortunately, the decision of the Appeals Court is unlikely to end the dispute about the High Court award of cerebral palsy compensation. Warning that the revised formula sets a dangerous precedent that could cost the State Claims Agency and the insurance industry up to €100 million annually, the HSE has indicated that it will take the High Court award of cerebral palsy compensation to the Supreme Court.

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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.

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State Claims Agency Comments on Claims for Birth Injuries due to Syntocinon

The clinical risk advisor for the State Claims Agency has commented that a consistent set of national guidelines is needed to reduce the number of claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon.

In Ireland, Syntocinon is the brand name of oxytocin – a synthetic drug that is often used during childbirth to induce labour or accelerate contractions. Oxytocin has the effect of reducing the amount of time that mothers are in labour and helps the womb to contract after a birth by Caesarean Section.

However, there are risks associated with the birth-inducing drug and – when Syntocinon is administered – both mother and baby need careful monitoring to prevent any complications such as an adverse reaction or foetal distress. There are many circumstances in which it is dangerous to both mother and baby to administer Syntocinon.

Syntocinon is one of the top ten “high-alert medications” in maternity units, and the death of four babies at the Portlaoise Hospital has been attributed to the lack of adequate monitoring. All four babies died from foetal distress after their mothers were administered Syntocinon and, when children have survived after suffering foetal distress, they have frequently suffered brain damage.

Settlements of claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon can be considerable. Among a recent series of claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon, Jamie Patterson was awarded an interim settlement of €1.58 million in May last year, while Skye Worthington´s €2.32 million interim settlement was approved just last February.

The State Claims Agency – the authority that pays settlements of claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon – recently conducted a study into the use of oxytocin in Irish hospitals. The study revealed a lack of consistency in how Syntocinon is administered – a problem described by the Master of the Rotunda Hospital, Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, as putting unborn children at “unnecessary risk”.

The study found that staff at one maternity unit had no guidance on the use of Syntocinon and that staff at another hospital had to refer to a checklist. Two of the maternity units observed in the study provided no guidelines at all on the monitoring of mothers and babies, and one hospital failed to inform medical staff on the dosage of Syntocinon that should be administered to mothers.

Mary Godfrey – the State Claims Agency´s clinical risk advisor – said that the results of the study showed that a consistent set of guidelines was needed to improve outcomes for mothers and babies, and to prevent more claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon being made against the HSE.

Her comments were supported by Dr Coulter-Smith who, speaking on Newstalk´s Lunchtime Show, commented “The issue with each of the maternity units having their own rules on its use means doctors moving from one to another don’t have common set of guidelines to follow.”

However both medical experts failed to comment on one alarming fact uncovered by the study – that none of the maternity units attempts to obtain consent from the mothers before administering the drug. If the State Claims Agency is genuine about reducing the number of claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon, they will also have to address the issue of “informed consent”.

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