All Posts Tagged: cerebral palsy injury child

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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€2 Million Interim Settlement of a Birth Injuries Claim Approved at the High Court

A €2 million interim settlement of a birth injuries claim has been approved at the High Court in favour of a four-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.

Kevin Dunphy-English was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital on July 9th 2010 after being starved of oxygen in the womb prior to his delivery. He was described as being “neurologically compromised” and spent the first twenty-four days of his life in intensive care. Kevin now suffers with cerebral palsy, can only walk short distances and will be wheelchair-reliant in the future.

Through his mother – Jane Dunphy of Mooncoin in County Kilkenny – Kevin made a birth injuries claim for compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE). In the legal action it was alleged that a foetal blood sample had been taken at 1:40am prior to a decrease in the baby´s heart beat being recorded at 2:30am.

It was claimed that if a further foetal blood sample had been taken subsequently to the deceleration of the baby´s heart beat, a decision would have been taken to intervene and deliver Kevin earlier. An investigation into the circumstances of Kevin´s birth found that his birth injuries could have been avoided if he had been delivered an hour earlier.

In 2013, the HSE accepted that there had been a mismanagement of Kevin´s birth by failing to effect a timely delivery. The HSE conceded liability and settled claims for emotional distress made by both of Kevin´s parents. The case then went to the High Court to organise an interim settlement of the birth injuries claim.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross met with Kevin privately in his chambers. The judge learned that Kevin is at pre-school and it is hoped that he will be able to join a mainstream class when he goes to school full time. The judge described Kevin as “a lovely little lad”, and he praised the efforts the boy´s parents had put in to raising him.

The judge awarded Kevin €2 million as an interim settlement of the birth injuries claim, and adjourned the case for four years to allow for an assessment of Kevin´s future needs. When the case is reconvened, Kevin´s parents will be able to choose from a lump sum settlement or a structured settlement if legislation is introduced in time to allow for periodic payments.

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Judge Approves €1.5 Million Compensation for Delayed Birth Cerebral Palsy

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.

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Court Approves Interim Settlement of Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy Compensation

The High Court has approved an interim settlement of dyskinetic cerebral palsy compensation for a twelve year old girl who suffered birth injuries due to the negligence of an obstetric consultant.

Mary Conroy attended the Midland Regional Hospital in Portloaise on 10th November 2001 believing that her waters had broken while pregnant with her first child. Mary was sent home after being reassured that everything was fine, but three days later attended the clinic of her private consultant obstetrician – Dr John Corristine – and, following an ultrasound, Mary insisted she be admitted into hospital.

At the Midland Regional Hospital, a CTG scan failed to show any sign of contractions, and Mary was advised to take a bath – however insufficient hot water was available at the hospital in order for her to do so. Dr Corristine then prescribed medicine that should induce labour and left the hospital. He failed to return during Mary´s labour or when she gave birth to her daughter.

Roisin was born the following morning, but suffered seizures soon after her birth and was transferred to a hospital in Dublin with more suitable neo-natal facilities. However, Roisin´s condition failed to improve and she was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy – as a result of which she is permanently disabled and can only communication with eye movement.

Mary blamed herself for Roisin´s devastating birth injuries, and insisted on having two further children delivered by Caesarean Section. Both she and her husband Kevin gave up their jobs to care for Roisin, believing what the hospital had told them that nothing could have been done to prevent the tragedy and that they were “just unlucky”.

However, after speaking with a solicitor, an investigation was launched into the events prior to Roisin´s birth, and the couple made a claim for dyskinetic cerebral palsy compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Dr Corristine.  Both defendants denied their liability for Roisin´s injuries for almost two years until – five weeks before a court hearing was due to take place – both the hospital and Dr Corristine admitted that mistakes had been made in the management of Mary´s pregnancy.

An interim settlement of dyskinetic cerebral palsy compensation amounting to €2.3 million was negotiated and, at the High Court in Dublin, the settlement was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine after an apology was read to the family by an HSE representative and Dr Corristine. Ms Justice Mary Irvine then adjourned the case for two years so that a study of Roisin´s future needs can be made and to allow time for legislation to be passed allowing a structured compensation payment system.

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Coombe Found Liable in Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy Medical Negligence Claim

A High Court judge has found the Coombe Women´s Hospital in Dublin liable in a dyskinetic cerebral palsy medical negligence claim brought against it by the mother of a ten-year-old boy.

The claim for dyskinetic cerebral palsy medical negligence claim was made by Dr Fiona Murphy of Malahide, County Dublin, on behalf of her son Eoin (10) following the events surrounding his delivery at the hospital on 12th July 2002.

Eoin was born suffering from near total acute hypoxic ischaemia, which a later investigation into the claim for dyskinetic cerebral palsy due to medical negligence determined had begun two or three minutes prior to his delivery .

However, due to a paediatric registrar not being available, Eoin was not resuscitated for seventeen minutes – during which time Eoin sustained irreversible brain damage and now suffers from severe dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

After hearing evidence at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said that, had the hospital acted with reasonable care, there was no reason why Eoin should not have been effectively ventilated by the time he was nine minutes old which would have then prevented his injuries.

Finding the Coombe Hospital liable for Eoin´s dyskinetic cerebral palsy, the judge said “the delay was unacceptable and the hospital was negligent in failing to ensure the child received the type of intubation and ventilation mandated in the first 10 minutes of his life”.

The judge subsequently adjourned the dyskinetic cerebral palsy medical negligence claim until May for the assessment of damages.

UPDATE May 2013: Eoin was awarded an interim settlement of compensation for dyskinetic cerebral palsy amounting to €2.9 million. His case is scheduled to be reviewed in 2015 to assess his long-term requirements, by which time it is hoped a periodic payment structure will have been introduced to assure his future financial security.

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Cerebral Palsy Injury Child Awarded Medical Negligence Compensation

A twelve-year-old girl, who sustained severe brain injuries due to mistakes made during her delivery, has been awarded 5 million pounds in a cerebral palsy injury child settlement.

Sophie Clarke (12) from Pontyclun, Rhondda Cynon Taf, was born in 1998 at Bridgend. However, a major abnormality of Sophie´s heart rate was not recognised, despite it registering on monitoring equipment.

Had staff at the Princess of Wales Hospital noticed Sophie´s condition, they would have intervened and delivered her by Caesarean Section. However, they allowed the birth to go on naturally, causing Sophie to suffer from a lack of oxygen in the womb.

Sophie suffers from serious cerebral palsy as a result of the errors made at the hospital and now needs twenty-four hour care, is fed via a tube and is restricted to a wheelchair.

Legal advisers acting on behalf of the family sued the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board for negligence, and in a hearing at Cardiff Crown Court the negotiated settlement of 5 million pounds was approved.

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