Dublin’s High Court have approved a final settlement for a compensation claim made after a doctor failed to refer his pregnant patient, who had a notable increase in blood antibody levels.
One month before Isabelle Sheehan was born in November 2004 at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital, Cork, a blood test was carried out on her mother. The test showed that her mother – Catherine – had an “alarming rise” in her blood antibody levels, which posed a risk to her unborn baby. However, her obstetrician – Dr David Corr – did not refer his patient to a specialist. Isabelle was then born with severe quadriparetic palsy.
Isabelle is now eleven years old, and has a machine that helps her walk. Described as “bright and intelligent”, she attends a local Gaelscoil near where she lives in Mallow, Co. Cork, though still experiences severe difficulties communicating. Isabelle will be reliant on care and assistance for the rest of her life.
After Catherine made a claim for medical negligence compensation, Dr Corr admitted liability for his failure to refer. Speaking at a hearing to award an interim settlement of compensation in 2011, he said that he “very much regrets the outcome in relation to Isabelle´s birth”.
In 2013, a second compensation settlement for Dr Corr’s failure to refer was awarded. Though more interim settlements were due, Catherine requested that a lump sum be paid so that Isabelle’s life was minimally disrupted. To receive each settlement, an assessment had to be carried out before the interim compensation could be awarded.
The court granted the request for the lump sum settlement, and the case proceeded to be heard in the High Court by Mr Justice Peter Kelly. Judge Kelly, President of the High Court, said that the €9 million settlement that was offered was fair and reasonable. He also paid tribute to Isabelle’s parents, Catherine and Colm, saying that Isabelle’s progress could be attributed to their “truly remarkable” dedication.