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Teenager Receives Interim Compensation Settlement in Birth Injury Claim

A teenager girl has received an interim settlement of compensation for a birth injury claim she made against the HSE.

In October 1999, Mary Malee (now 14 years of age) was born at the Mayo General Hospital to Maura Malee of Swinford, Country Mayo. Following several hours of avoidable delay, Mary was born by emergency Caesarean section. Two days prior to Mary´s birth, her mother had attended the consultant who had delivered her three previous children. There, she was informed that he was about to start treatment for cancer. Therefore, he would be unavailable for Mary´s delivery himself.

The consultant advised Maura that arrangements would be made for another consultant to be present at the birth. The following day, Maura attended her GP, feeling unwell. The GP advised to go to hospital immediately as she was displaying symptoms of pre-eclampsia, and the health of her baby was in danger.

On arrival at Mayo General Hospital, Maura was transferred to the labour ward, where she underwent a CTG shortly before 6:00am. This scan revealed a series of foetal heartbeat deceleration, showing that Mary was in distress int he womb. The first consultant that was contacted was unavailable and a second consultant arrived shortly before 7:00am.

Maura alleges that delay in communicating the foetal distress in the womb to the new consultant. Despite the danger to Mary, the Caesarean procedure did not get underway until after 7:20am. Due to the delay, Mary suffered from a lack of oxygen and was born severely brain damaged. She was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Through her early years, Mary has been able to attend mainstream school and, despite being confined to a wheelchair, hopes to attend university when she grows older. She is currently reliant on her parents for care and aid in performing many tasks. Aware that this arrangement could not last forever, Maura Malee made a claim for compensation for delayed birth cerebral palsy on behalf of her daughter against the Mayo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In the claim for delayed birth cerebral palsy compensation it was alleged that there had been a failure to intervene and initiate a Caesarean delivery in a timely manner, or to ensure that a paediatrician was present at Mary´s birth. It was known by medical staff at the facility that Mary was suffering from foetal distress, and that she was likely to require expert resuscitation

Both the Mayo General Hospital and the HSE denied their liability for Mary´s birth injuries. The case went to the High Court to be heard by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. In spite of their denial of liability, both parties agreed to an interim settlement of compensation for delayed birth cerebral palsy amounting €1.5 million. They further agreed to a future assessment of Mary´s needs within two years, hoping for the introduction of a structured compensation system.

In court, Mary read out a statement in which she remarked “It would have been appreciated had the HSE/Mayo General Hospital said they were sorry”, after which Judge Irvine approved the settlement of compensation for a delayed birth cerebral palsy and adjourned the hearing.

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