A boy who was born with cerebral palsy in Waterford Regional Hospital has had an €8.5 million personal injury* claim approved by the High Court.
The Judge of the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine, commented that it was highly regrettable that the HSE delayed for a period of 5 years after the incident before admitting liability. She also said that she rarely made remarks about the conduct of a defendant in defending a case but this was the second case before her that week where the HSE had delayed in admitting liability, causing additional stress and fear for the children and families involved.
The court was told that the boy’s mother had requested a Caesarean Section as the delivery of her first child resulted in complications and her second pregnancy ended in miscarriage after 12 weeks gestation. The boy’s mother said she was dissuaded from doing so by her obstetrician and other agents of the HSE. She went to Waterford Regional Hospital on the 20th July 2007 as she thought her membranes had ruptured and was given an ante-natal appointment for July 25th.
She went into spontaneous labour on July 22th and was readmitted to hospital in the early hours when oxytocic was administered. It was claimed the administration of oxytocic and advice to commence pushing at 2pm was entirely unacceptable and inappropriate and a Caesarean should have been performed. The boy was born following an emergency Caesarean Section and it was claimed he was floppy. It was further alleged there was no Paediatrician present at delivery and this led to a further delay in the boy receiving adequate resuscitation.
The HSE admitted liability a number of months before the hearing however the hearing continued for over 11 days until a settlement was reached, resulting in extra stress and worry for the boy’s parents. In a statement after the ruling, the boy’s parents said they were delighted their “long fight” was over but criticised the delay in admitting liability. This happened although they were told by their Obstetrician years ago there would be “no cover up”, they said. The boy’s parents said their Solicitors wrote to the state Claims Agency in June 2009 setting out the results of independent medical reports related to his injuries which concluded those injuries arose due to mismanagement of his mother’s labour. It was claimed that the boy’s condition could have been avoided totally if the labour was managed appropriately. They said that notwithstanding what their Obstetrician had previously said, to their horror and surprise, the State Claims Agency later put in a defence “denying everything”.
The stance by the HSE to deny everything prolonged the pain, suffering and stress for the boy’s parents. It has been argued that there should be a legal duty of candour for victims of medical negligence. David Walley + Co Solicitors have previously written about why a legal duty of candour should be placed on healthcare professionals.
*In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.