Families Seek Compensation for Epilim Birth Defects

Families in France are seeking compensation for Epilim birth defects after a report linked the drug to thousands of child congenital and development issues.

Epilim has been prescribed in Ireland since 1983 to treat epilepsy, bipolar disorder, migraine and several types of chronic pain. First introduced in France in the 1960s under the brand name Depakine, Epilim has an active ingredient – sodium valproate – that stabilises electrical activity in the brain.

Over the past fifty years, it has been claimed that taking Epilim while pregnant can result in new-born babies suffering foetal valproate syndrome – a condition that can manifest as autism, cleft palate, spina bifida, a heart or kidney defect, a physical deformity or development issues.

Now research conducted by France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) has confirmed the claims after monitoring 8,701 children born to women known to have taken Depakine while pregnant between 2007 and 2014 – approximately 0.2% of all child births in France during the period.

The research identified up to 4,100 children were suffering “severe malformations” due to being exposed to the teratogenic nature of valproate in the womb – results that support a smaller study conducted by France´s social affairs inspectorate IGAS earlier this year.

The children´s parents allege the manufacturer of the drug – Sanofi – failed to place adequate warnings in packets of Depakine or advise medical practitioners of the possible side effects of sodium valproate, and have now started a class action in order to seek compensation for Epilim birth defects.

Although the manufacturer made an announcement about the risks of taking sodium valproate in 2006, a study two years later found that one in five doctors and one in three pharmacists (in France) were still unaware of the effects of sodium valproate on unborn children. Prescription rules were not tightened until 2014 and, in Ireland, Epilim is still sold without a warning in large type on the front of the packet.

If a member of your family has suffered a congenital or development issue due to not being informed about the risks of sodium valproate, several options exist to claim compensation for Epilim birth defects. It is recommended that you speak with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity to explain your personal situation and to find out what your options are.

Posted in Medical Negligence in Ireland Tagged with: ,

Interim Settlement Approved for Birth Injuries

A young boy has been awarded a €1.35 million settlement of medical negligence compensation by the High Court of Dublin.

The child, who has remained anonymous, was born the Cork University Maternity Hospital in March 2010. However, his parents allege that the medical staff were negligent in their actions by failing to correctly interpret a CTG scan which indicated that the boy was suffering from foetal distress syndrome.

As the scan did not appear to return any worrying results, the necessary Caesarean section was not performed in a timely manner. As such, the boy suffered from hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy due to a lack of oxygen. When he was delivered, it was apparent that he had severe brain damage.

The brain damage was extensive, and the young boy – now six – is blind and unable to speak. Suffering from daily seizures, he is reliant upon his parents and extended family for twenty-four hour support. The family receives additional care from the Jack and Jill Foundation.

Acting on her son’s behalf, the boy’s mother consulted a medical negligence solicitor and made a claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE). Though the HSE denied that they were negligent, they agreed to pay an interim settlement of compensation of €1.35 million without admitting liability. The case will then be assessed for further settlements.

The claim proceeded to the High Court of Dublin for approval. Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who oversaw proceedings, was told of how hard it was for the boy’s family to get compensation for the delayed Caesarean section, and of their relief that the process was over. Wishing the family the best for the future, Judge Cross approved the settlement and adjourned the case for three years.

Posted in Childbirth Negligence in Ireland

Young Boy Compensated for Failure to Diagnose Pregnancy Complications

A young boy, who now suffers from severe spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, has been awarded an interim settlement of compensation by the High Court of Dublin.

The young boy and his twin were delivered in October 2010 at Cork’s University Maternity Hospital  by an emergency Caesarean Section. However, whilst the boy’s brother was declared healthy, this boy suffered foetal distress in utero and as such was weak after delivery. He was then diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy.

The twins’ mother, acting on behalf of her second child, made a claim for medical negligence compensation for the failure to diagnose vasa praevia complications during her pregnancy. Vasa praevia is a condition in which the foetal blood vessels are near the internal uterine opening, putting them at risk of rupturing during labour. The woman, who has remained anonymous but is known to live in Midelton, Co. Cork, alleges that earlier scans revealed that one of the placentas was low-lying, one of the critical indicators of vasa praevia.

Both the Health Service Executives (HSE) and Cork University Maternity Hospital – against whom the allegations were made – denied that they were liable for the birth injury. They claimed that it was not standard practice to conduct further scans or tests to eliminate the risk of vasa praevia complications. Despite this, both parties agree to pay an interim sum of compensation without admitting guilt.

As the claim was made on behalf of a minor it had to be approved by a High Court judge before any settlement could be awarded. The approval hearing was held earlier this week at the high Court of Dublin, where the judge was told about the circumstances of the pregnancy and birth and what could have been done to prevent the boy’s injuries.

The court was also informed of the young boy’s progress in spite of his difficult condition. In 2014, he received a National Children of Courage Award. His friends and family had also raised funds for him to fly to the United States for selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery, which allowed him to walk for the first time. However, he still requires therapy for speech and language acquisition.

The interim settlement was approved by the High Court. The case was then adjourned for five years, after which an additional assessment will be conducted.

Posted in Childbirth Negligence in Ireland

Settlement of Compensation for Undiagnosed Pregnancy Complications Approved

A €1.98 million interim settlement of compensation for undiagnosed pregnancy complications has been approved at hearing of the High Court.

The claim for compensation for undiagnosed pregnancy complications was brought by the mother of a boy, who allegedly suffered avoidable foetal distress prior to his birth by emergency Caesarean Section at Cork University Maternity Hospital on 5th October 2010. As a result of being starved of oxygen in the womb, the boy now suffers from cerebral palsy.

It was claimed in the legal action against Cork University Maternity Hospital and the Health Service Executive that scans conducted in June and September 2010 had revealed a low-lying placenta – a foreseeable cause of vasa praevia pregnancy complications.

However, no further action was taken by the hospital to prevent the boy suffering foetal distress before his delivery – a lack of action described in the claim for compensation for undiagnosed pregnancy complications as a failure to exercise reasonable care at the antenatal stage of the pregnancy.

The hospital and Health Service Executive denied liability for the boy´s birth injuries and contested the claim on the grounds it was not normal practice to take precautions against the risk of vasa praevia pregnancy complications. However, an interim settlement of compensation for undiagnosed pregnancy complications was agreed without an admission of liability.

As the claim had been brought by the child´s mother, the interim settlement of compensation for undiagnosed pregnancy complications had to be approved by a court to ensure it was in her son´s best interests. At this week´s approval hearing, the High Court heard about the circumstances prior to the boy´s distressed delivery and the alleged lack of regard to the risk of foetal distress.

The High Court also heard that family and friends had raised enough money for the boy to undergo Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery last year and that, as a result, he is now able to walk short distances for the first time. The court approved the interim settlement of compensation for undiagnosed pregnancy complications and adjourned the case for five years so that reports into the boy´s future needs can be compiled.

Posted in Childbirth Negligence in Ireland, Hospital Negligence in Ireland, Medical Negligence in Ireland Tagged with: , ,

Compensation Approved for Bereaved Parents

A five-figure settlement of compensation for the parents of a baby that died due to medical negligence has been approved by a judge in the High Court.

The birth occurred on the 15th July 2010 at the Limerick Regional Maternity Hospital. The couple – who have remained anonymous – welcomed a baby girl, but their joy was tragically short-lived. Just six hours later, their baby had died due to severe blood loss.

The couple – from Ballyneety in Co. Limerick – claim that their baby had been born healthy, but had died as a direct consequence of medical negligence and mismanagement of the situation. They claim that, if the blood loss had been noticed in time by hospital staff, their baby would have had much better chances of survival.

The couple consulted a medical negligence solicitor and subsequently made a claim for compensation against the Health Service Executives (HSE). In the claim, they allege that the manner in which their daughter’s umbilical cord was cut was unsafe. They claim that when she was raised above the placenta so that the baby could be untangled from the afterbirth, the staff did not adequately clamp the cord. This lead to an extreme loss of blood.

The Health Service, however, presented an alternate version of events and denied that they were liable for the newborn’s death. However, without admitting liability, an offer of €98,000 in compensation was made to the couple. The HSE said that this was to compensate for the extreme shock and trauma they suffered after losing their baby.

Before the settlement could be awarded it first had to be approved by a judge in Dublin’s High Court. The case was overseen by Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who heard the disputed evidence that the HSE was responsible for the baby’s death due to mismanagement of her birth. He was told that, after she had been raised and the cord cut, she became listless and floppy, dying just six hours later.
After representatives from the HSE read a statement of regret, Judge Cross approved the compensation settlement. He proceeded to add his offer his sympathies to the bereaved couple.

Posted in Childbirth Negligence in Ireland, Medical Negligence in Ireland

Hospital Trolley Injury Claim Settled

A patient, who fell from a hospital trolley as he slept because of a lack of beds, has settled his claim for compensation.

The accident occurred in September 2015 when Anthony Whelan, a sixty-four year-old caretaker from Tallaght, attended the nearby Adelaide and Meath Hospital with post-operative pain. The hospitals admitted Anthony overnight, and a second operation was scheduled for the following morning.

Anthony was taken to an overnight ward in a hospital trolley, though it quickly became apparent that there was no bed available to him. As such, he was brought to a corridor near a nursing station, with screens around him to allow him to sleep.

Yet, whilst he was sleeping, Anthony fell off of the trolley, landing on the bases of the screens that surrounded him. An x-ray showed that there was no apparent damage to his chest or back, but the staff still administered a dose of painkillers before moving Anthony to a private room.

The next morning, Anthony was operated upon as planned. Once he recovered, he sought the advice of a solicitor and proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence compensation. He alleged that, whilst he was staying at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, he did not receive an adequate level of care.

Despite acknowledging the accident, the hospital still disputed the amount of compensation Anthony was claiming. As such, the case was scheduled for an assessment of damages at the Circuit Civil Court. There, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was informed that the parties had settled upon a compensation settlement, as well as the payment of costs. The judge was also informed that District Court was now responsible for the case.

Posted in Hospital Injury in Ireland

Minister Announces New Policies in Medical Negligence Review

Current Minister of Health, Simon Harris, has announced that the new National Patient Safety Office will conduct a review of the procedures by which patients can claim for medical negligence compensation.

Speaking at a patient safety conference in Dublin, the Minister for Health announced the new National Patient Safety Office. Mr Harris commented that the organisation- which will report to the Department of Justice and Equality – will “lead a program of significant patient safety measures”.

Amongst other things, the new body will establish a nationwide patient advocacy service, set up a new patient advisory council and establish a patient safety surveillance system. Importantly, it will also review the process for claiming medical negligence compensation.

This review will help progress the proposed Health Information and Patient Safety Bill. This bill hopes to allow patients and their families to disclose adverse medical events. Though the  HSE had established guidelines for this open disclosure in 2013, they are not actually being practiced in Irish healthcare facilities.

The news is welcomed by many patient rights campaigners, who have been lobbying for such a review for many years. These patient representatives claim that as there is no statutory duty of candour, new medical negligence claims are “unworkable”. Leo Varadkar, former Minister for Health, is heavily criticised by these groups, as he failed to enforce open disclosure in 2015’s Civil Liberty (Amendment) Bill.

The proposed Health Information and Patient Safety Bill also proposes to halt the unauthorised disclosure of health information, to establish the use of advanced technologies to safely exchange health data and to extend the Health Information and Quality Authority’s (HIQA) authority over private healthcare providers. Yet, as the EU is currently reviewing its data protection regulations, these new advances will not come into play for another while.

Posted in Medical Negligence in Ireland

Child Medical Negligence Claim Awarded Interim Settlement

A judge in Dublin’s High Court has approved the €2.4 million interim settlement of compensation awarded to a young boy who sustained severe disabilities because of a lack of “competent staff” a hospital.

When Eoghan Dunne was admitted to the Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe in August 2012, he was just eleven months old. The infant was experiencing severe respiratory distress and had a highly elevated heart rate. Within a few hours, his symptoms became so severe that he was transferred to a special unit in Dublin’s Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

In Dublin, Eoghan suffered form septic shock which progressed to a heart attack. This lead to a deprivation of oxygen to Eoghan’s brain, resulting in brain damage that has left Eoghan with a slew of life-altering disabilities. The young boy is now epileptic, visually impaired and unable to speak or walk. For six months after the cardiac arrest, Eoghan remained in hospital and now he will be reliant on twenty-four hour care for the rest of his life.

An investigation ensued concerning Eoghan’s injuries and concluded that there many many factors that contributed to his injuries, all relating to a substandard level of care at the Portiuncula Hospital. It alleges that the hospital was not adequately equipped for cases such as Eoghan’s, and noted that they directly contradicted HSE policy for sepsis by failing to administer antibiotics. The report also noted that the transfer to the better-equipped Temple Street was delayed by a lack of “competent staff”.

Eoghan’s parents, Teresa and Ronan, decided to seek legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Portiuncula Hospital and the HSE. They alleged that the injuries sustained by their son would not have been as severe should staff at the hospital acted appropriately. Despite the result of the investigation, however, the HSE decided to deny that they were liable for Eoghan’s disabilities.

As such, court hearing was scheduled. However, just a few days before the hearing, the HSE acknowledged their culpability and made the offer of €2.4 million as an interim settlement of compensation. This was accepted by the family, though needed to be approved by a judge in the High Court before it could be awarded.

The judge in question, Mr Justice Kevin Cross, asserted his belief that the settlement was fair and added his dismay that liability was not admitted sooner, as Eoghan could have then received therapy during a crucial period of development. Assessments of Eoghan’s future needs will be conducted before the full settlement is decided.

Posted in Hospital Negligence in Ireland

Child Compensated for Debilitating Birth Injuries

A two year-old boy, who suffered devastating birth injuries because of medical negligence before his birth, has been awarded a €1.75 million settlement of compensation.

The claim for compensation was made through Catriona Enright, the boy’s mother. Catriona was admitted to the Midwestern Regional Hospital on the 19th August 2013 when she was in the thirty-seventh week of her pregnancy. However,

After a medical examination, doctors decided to induce Catriona’s labour. She was administered Syntocinon, which has well-documented side effects, yet still doctors failed to correctly monitor her condition. As a result, her foetus suffered from hyper-stimulation in the womb.

On the 20th August, Charlie Enright was delivered “flat” (unable to sustain his own breathing). He was immediately transferred to Cork University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an intra-cranial haemorrhage. This injury was a result of doctors misinterpreting a cardiocorapgy trace, meaning that the diagnosis of foetal distress syndrome was delayed.

Baby Charlie underwent courses of therapeutic hypothermia, though this failed to cure his condition and now he lives with a permanent disability. Catriona sought legal counsel and subsequently decided to make a claim for birth injury compensation on behalf of her young son. The claim was made against the Health Service Executives, who admitted their liability after an investigation was conducted into Charlie’s birth.

Negotiations soon began between the parties, though they were complicated as – due to Charlie’s age – the impact of his injuries are unknown. As such, a €1.75 million interim settlement was agreed upon between the parties.

However, before the settlement could be awarded, it had to be approved by a judge in Dublin’s High Court. Earlier this month the case was heard by Mr Justice Anthony Barr, who approved the settlement and adjourned the case for two years such that an assessment of injuries could be conducted.

 

Posted in Childbirth Negligence in Ireland

Missed Diagnosis Claim Heard in High Court

The initial hearing for a claim for breast cancer misdiagnosis has been held in Dublin’s High Court.

On the 25th November 2011, Eileen Fennessy – a retired schoolteacher from Piltown in Co. Kilkenny – attended a “Breast Check” event as part of the National Breast Screening Programme. However, she has since alleged that the mammogram taken at the screening was not properly examined, leading to a missed diagnosis of breast  cancer.

A year later, Eileen attended her GP, who noted a large mass on one of her breasts. The sixty-nine year-old was then referred to Waterford Regional Hospital, where an ultrasound and biopsy lead to the diagnosis of a grade 2 carcinoma.

As soon as the diagnosis was made, Eileen was started on a course of chemotherapy. However, this did not clear the cancer and in April 2013 Eileen had a mastectomy. Upon her recovery from the procedure, Eileen sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for her missed diagnosis of breast cancer.

In her claim, Eileen alleged that the chemotherapy and mastectomy she endured would not have been necessary had the medical staff correctly interpreted the warning signals from her mammogram in 2011.

The Health Service Executive, against whom the claim was made, denied that they were negligent in Eileen’s care. The case proceeded to Dublin’s High Court, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross was informed that the failure to diagnose Eileen in 2011 put her in danger should the cancer progress.

The judge was also informed that, though Eileen is currently in remission, her prognosis is “extremely serious and devastating”. The claim has yet to be resolved.

Posted in Misdiagnosis Claim