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Options to Compensate Women for Symphysiotomy Injuries to be Investigated by Judge

Judge Yvonne Murphy has been appointed by the Government to investigate the options available to compensate women for the symphysiotomy injuries they sustained from the childbirth procedure.

Dr James Reilly – the Minister for Health – announced this week that Judge Yvonne Murphy has been appointed to investigate feasible options to compensate women for symphysiotomy injuries they sustained during the controversial childbirth procedure that took place in Irish hospitals between 1940 and 1990.

Judge Murphy´s appointment comes shortly after the government went back on a pledge to allow Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin´s Private Members Bill through the Dail unopposed – a Bill which would have created a one-year window in the Statute of Limitations and allowed around 300 women who underwent symphysiotomy operations to claim compensation.

The U-turn occurred after legal advisors warned the Government that the Bill would face legal challenges in passed – particularly from the insurance companies liable to compensate women for symphysiotomy injuries, who had already accused the Government of “moving the goalposts” on claims for personal injury compensation.

The judge has been asked to recommend a means to compensate women for symphysiotomy injuries by February 2014, and the Health Minster said that if this were to be in the form of “ex gratia” payments, the Government would be prepared to contribute to the fund. It is also understood that Judge Murphy will be speaking with insurance companies to discover whether they would also contribute towards such a scheme.

Reaction to the announcement was mixed, with Tom Moran – Chairman of the support group Survivors of Symphysiotomy Ltd – welcoming the appointment of Judge Murphy. However, Sinn Fein´s health spokesman – Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin – said “The type of scheme outlined in the terms of reference offers the women no prospect of adequate compensation for what was so barbarically done to them nor the choice to pursue their rights in the courts.”

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Compensation Claim for Mismanaged Birth Resolved

A Dublin couple´s compensation claim for a mismanaged birth has been resolved out of court after the couple in question agreed to a settlement of €150,000 without admission of liability.

Jane Farren from Rathgar in Dublin was close to the birth of her third child, and had been admitted to the Rotunda Hospital on the 16th October 2008 due to a spontaneous membrane rupture. Jane was administered Syntocinin to induce her labour and, at 3.45am the following morning, a vacuum delivery was attempted.

Thirty minutes later, her daughter Molly was born by emergency Caesarean Section, but staff at the hospital could not resuscitate her, and Molly was declared dead twenty minutes later – due to which both Jane and her partner Feidhlimidh Wrafter suffered nervous shock.

Jane and Feidhlimidh made a compensation claim for a mismanaged birth against consultant gynaecologist Professor Fergal Malone and the Rotunda Hospital, alleging that both parties had failed to identify abnormalities in the foetal heart rate in time to act upon them; and that when the abnormalities were noticed, nursing staff at the hospital failed to act in a timely manner.

It was also claimed that the couple had been misinformed after Jane´s admission into the hospital regarding the health of the foetus, and that they were led to believe – after Molly´s death – that nothing could have been done to save Molly as the cause of death could not be explained.

Professor Malone and the Rotunda Hospital both denied their liability for Molly´s death and the couple´s nervous shock; however a settlement of the couple´s compensation claim for a mismanaged birth was agreed without admission of liability and the case was struck out at the High Court.

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Judge Adjourns Claim for Failing to Act on Test Results

A High Court judge has adjourned a compensation claim for failing to act on test results after approving an interim settlement of compensation for an eight-year-old girl suffering from cerebral palsy.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told how Isabelle Sheehan was delivered by emergency Caesarean Section at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in Cork in November 2004, after the results from an earlier blood test on her mother – Catherine – had shown a significant increase in the presence of antibodies which had the potential to react with those of Isabelle´s father, Colm.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross also heard that, had Catherine Sheehan´s paediatric consultant – Dr David Corr – referred Catherine to a specialist at the time the results were known, Isabelle could have been born earlier and the spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy she suffered at the time of her delivery could have been avoided.

Through her mother, Isabelle made a compensation claim for failing to act on test results against Dr Corr – who admitted that he had “made a mistake” and accepted liability for Isabelle´s injuries – and, at a hearing in October 2011, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill approved an initial €1.9 million settlement of compensation and adjourned the case for two years to allow for the introduction of a structured compensation payment system.

As two years had passed, and no system for structured compensation payments has yet been introduced, Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved a further interim payment of €635,000 to provide Isabelle she will need for the forthcoming two years and adjourned her compensation claim for failing to act on test results once again.

The judge heard that, with assistance, Isabelle was keeping up with her classmates at her mainstream national school and that she was bright and intelligent. Mr Justice Kevin Cross closed the hearing by wishing Isabelle all the best for the future.

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Woman to Receive Compensation for Prescription of Wrong Drug after Case goes to Appeal Court

A woman in Australia is to receive compensation for the prescription of the wrong drug against a doctor contracted by her employer after the case was heard in the Court of Appeal.

Michelle Strickland from Macquarie Fields in Sydney brought her compensation claim for the prescription of the wrong drug after the fifty-three year old process line worker had passed out in November 2010 at Chep Australia’s Wetherill Park factory.

Michelle was taken to hospital, where a CT scan revealed that an aneurysm in her brain had ruptured and she had suffered a near-fatal neurological injury. Michelle underwent two major brain operations over the course of the next twelve months, but now suffers from facial paralysis and memory loss, and has difficulty holding a conversation with her two grandchildren.

Following a routine visit to her GP, a connection was found between the ruptured aneurysm and anti-inflammatory medication she had been prescribed by her employer´s contracted doctor to treat a repetitive strain injury she had developed while working on the factory process line.

Michelle made a claim for compensation for the prescription of the wrong drug against her employer, claiming that she had complained to the company´s doctor about headaches which occurred whenever she took the medication, but the doctor had advised her to rest until headaches passed and then to start working again.

Chep Australia denied Michelle´s claim, arguing that there was no link between Michelle´s neurological injury and her role in the factory, and that her ruptured aneurysm was probably caused by Michelle´s high blood pressure and smoking habit.

After an initial hearing at the New South Wales Workers Compensation Commission, Michelle was awarded a weekly compensation amount and her medical expenses paid; however Michelle´s employers contested the decision and took the case to the Court of Appeal in Sydney.

At the Court of Appeal in Sydney, judges found in Michelle´s favour and upheld the original decision to award compensation for the prescription of the wrong drug.

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