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Boy Receives Compensation for Birth Negligence Resulting in Disability

A six-year-old boy has received compensation A claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy was bought by the child´s mother against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Cork University Maternity Hospital. The woman’s son-one of twin boys born on 5th October 2010 – was diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.

The High Court received evidence from the woman’s legal team that a scan conducted in June 2010 revealed a low-lying placenta, and that a second scan in September 2010 indicated there was a risk of vasa praevia – a pregnancy complication in which babies blood vessels cross or run near the internal opening of the uterus. In spite of these medical complications revealed by the scans, no further action was taken.

As a result of the alleged negligence, one of the twins suffered foetal distress in the womb. He now suffers from spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, resulting in mobility and cognitive difficulties. He was flown to Missouri for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy to help him to begin to learn how to walk. Despite successful treatment, he now requires a walker or a wheelchair whenever he gets tired or ill.

His family sought legal counsel, and brought the case of negligence to the courts. It was alleged in the court action that the Cork University Maternity Hospital should have conducted a more specific scan in September 2010 to address the risk of vasa praevia, and that the hospital demonstrated a failure to exercise reasonable care at the antenatal stage of the pregnancy.

At the High Court the defendants-the HSE-testified it was not a part of their regular proceedings to carry out a second scan to address the risk of vasa praevia. The HSE contested liability in the claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy. In spite of the denial of any negligence on their part, the HSE agreed to an interim settlement of compensation for spastic diplegic cerebral palsy amounting to €1.98 million.

The judge was told various details of the six-year-old boy’s life, ranging from his mobility struggles to how won a National Children of Courage Award in 2014,. The judge was further informed that the funds will be used to provide him with greater access to private physiotherapy, speech, language and occupational therapy. The judge approved the interim settlement on the boy’s behalf. The case will return to the High Court in five years after the boy´s future needs have been assessed, so that a further settlement of compensation can be negotiated.

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