The family of a girl, who sustained brain damage at birth when a locum doctor failed to recognise the necessity for a Caesarean section, have had their hospital obstetric negligence compensation claim settled at the High Court.
Sonya Butler, a native of Dunmore in County Waterford was taken to Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005 after a healthy pregnancy and was looking forward to giving birth to her first child. However, her consultant obstetrician – John Bermingham – and the hospital´s two other obstetric doctors had all been permitted to take annual leave at the same time, and the hospital had employed a locum – Mahmud Khbuli – to cover for them.
Sadly, Dr Khbuli did not recognise the necessity for a Caesarean section during Sonya´s pre-operative examination and, when Sonya´s daughter – Alex – was delivered, she had experienced a lack of oxygen in the womb which resulted in the little girl suffering brain trauma and she was born tetraplegic.
In a legal action taken on her behalf by her mother, Alex made a hospital obstetric negligence compensation claim against the hospital, Dr Bermingham and Dr Khbuli; claiming that the hospital was negligent by failing to employ a sufficient number of adequately trained and competent medical staff to supervise her delivery, that Dr Bermingham should not have taken leave when the family had chosen private treatment and that Sonya´s pre-operative examination by Dr Khbuli was substandard.
At the High Court, the Health Service Executive (HSE) agreed that errors were made which should never have occurred and an apology was read out to the family on behalf of Waterford Regional Hospital. The court was informed that the action against Doctors Bermingham and Khbuli had been dropped and medical negligence compensation of €1.4 million had been agreed as an interim settlement of the family´s chospital obstetric negligence compensation claim.
The compensation figure is to be reviewed in two years, when Alex’s future care needs have been assessed and there may be the option of a structured settlement.