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Couple Awarded Compensation for Wrongful Death of Newborn

A couple has been awarded compensation by the HSE for the allegedly wrongful death of their newborn daughter.

In October 2008, Jane Farren and Feidhlimidh Wrafter from Rathgar in Dublin were anticipating the birth of their baby girl at the Rotunda Hospital. However, both suffered nervous shock when their new-born baby could not be resuscitated after being delivered by an emergency Caesarean Section.

They sought legal counsel, and made a claim for compensation for an emotional trauma after a baby´s death against both the Rotunda Hospital and consultant gynaecologist Professor Fergal Malone. In the claim, they alleged that during the period immediately before their daughter´s delivery, Jane´s labour had been mismanaged and the staff in charge of caring for her during their daughter’s birth had been negligent.

Jane had been admitted to the hospital on the previous day due to a spontaneous membrane rupture. She had been given Syntocinin to induce her labour. There was some difficulty with the layout and, at 3.45am in the morning, a vacuum delivery had been attempted.
Half an hour later, Jane and Feidhlimidh´s daughter – Molly – was delivered by an emergency Caesarean Section, but she was not breathing when she was born. Staff at the hospital could not resuscitate her. Molly was declared dead twenty minutes later.

In their compensation claim for an emotional trauma after a baby´s death, Jane and Feidhlimidh alleged that Professor Malone and nursing staff at the hospital had failed to identify abnormalities in the foetal heart rate at an early enough stage, and when the abnormalities were noticed, failed to act upon them in a timely manner.

It was also alleged that the couple had been misinformed during Jane´s labour and the delivery of their daughter. They state that they were led to believe that medical staff thought that Molly’s death was inexplicable, and there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it. However, an investigation into the case revealed that this was not the case.

The Rotunda Hospital and Professor Malone denied their liability for Molly´s death. The case was heard in the courts. The High Court was told that a settlement of compensation for an emotional trauma after a baby´s death had been negotiated amounting to €150,000 without admission of liability and that the case could be struck out.

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