Compensation has been awarded to the family of a child left severely disabled due to negligence on the part of hospital staff surrounding his birth.
In March 2010, the young boy in question was born at Cork University Maternity Hospital. A CTG scan was taken, and despite concerning signs on the trace, the hospital staff did not believe that the foetus was in any danger. As such, the planned Caesarean section was delayed. As a result of this delay, the foetus suffered from a hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy in the womb. He was born with severe brain damage.
The baby, now six years old, was left blind and unable to speak. He also suffers from daily seizures and is cared for around the clock by his parents and extended family. The family also receive support from the Jack and Jill Foundation and other charities.
Due to the negligent nature of the hospital staff surrounding the boy’s birth, the family sought legal counsel. Acting on her child’s behalf, the boy’s mother made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE). The claim alleged that staff at the hospital failed to correctly interpret the results of a CTG scan that indicated their child was suffering from foetal distress syndrome.
The HSE denied the allegations of negligence, but offered to pay an interim settlement of compensation without admitting liability. The €1.35 million settlement allows for an assessment of the boy’s condition and future care needs.
Before the settlement could be awarded, it had to be approved by a judge in Dublin’s High Court, as the child is a minor and a judge must determine if the settlement is in the child’s best interests. Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who oversaw the approval hearing, was told of how hard it was for the boy’s family to get compensation for the delayed Caesarean section, and of their relief that the process was over. Wishing the family the best for the future, Judge Cross approved the settlement. The case adjourned the case for three years for the value of future settlements of compensation to be assessed.