A family has been awarded compensation for birth negligence by hospital staff which left their son severely disabled, after a nine-year-long battle with the HSE.
In May 2006, a baby boy was born Kerry General Hospital. Due to complications, the boy was born by by emergency Caesarean Section. The birth was largely complicated due to a series of errors made my the staff at the facility. The boy’s birth was delayed by two hours for no justifiable reason, and the consultant obstetrician was not made aware of an abnormal foetal heartbeat. Staff further failed to identify the possibility of foetal hypoxia, and no action was taken on a CTG trace indicating foetal distress.
Due to the avoidable delay in his birth, the boy suffered from oxygen deprivation, resulting in life-altering brain damage. He was later diagnosed with mixed dyskinetic spastic cerebral palsy. He has since required around-the-clock care, he cannot speak and is confined to a wheelchair. He will continue to need this level of care attention for the rest of his life. Despite the clear negligence of the staff, 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 were entitled to by the state.
After being threatened with aggravated damages, the HSE finally admitted liability for the birth negligence claim early last year. An interim settlement of €2.7 million compensation for brain damage at birth was awarded after being rushed through the court system for approval. Earlier this month, 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. As the compensation was for a minor, the amount had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in the boy’s best interests. The sum of compensation was described as “commercial common and legal sense” by presiding judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly.
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 approved the settlement of compensation for the boy. 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.