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Child Starved of Oxygen at Birth has Compensation Approved

A child, who was starved of oxygen at birth, has had a compensation settlement of €4 million approved at the High Court in Dublin.

Katie Martin (13) from Trim in County Meath was born at the Coombe Women´s Hospital in Dublin on November 9th 2000 by emergency Caesarean Section, after her mother – Fiona – had presented at the hospital earlier that morning having irregular contractions.

A CTG trace was made after 90 minutes and, according to Katie´s solicitor, the trace registered abnormal readings which would indicate that Katie was being deprived of oxygen in the womb.

However, it was a further 90 minutes before any action was taken in response to the abnormal readings; and when Katie was born she had suffered a cardiac arrest and showed no signs of life.

Fortunately medical staff were able to resuscitate Katie, but she had suffered severe brain damage due to a lack of oxygen that means that she will need constant care throughout the rest of her life.

Through her mother, Katie made a claim for child starved of oxygen at birth compensation against the Coombe Women´s Hospital – who denied their liability for her injury and contested that Katie was deprived of oxygen in the womb before her mother was admitted to the hospital.

Nonetheless, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that a settlement of €4 million compensation for a child starved of oxygen at birth had been negotiated without admission of liability, and that the case was before her for approval of the settlement.

The judge heard the circumstances of Katie´s birth – and that the hospital had entered a full defence against the claim – before commenting that the settlement was a good one in the circumstances and that she had no hesitation in approving it.

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HSE Admits Negligent Care in Hospital Led to Mother´s Death

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has admitted that negligent care in hospital resulted in the death of a mother of five in January 2010.

Eileen Brady (65) from Crosskeys in County Cavan had been admitted to the Cavan General Hospital on 5th January 2010 after her GP had diagnosed that mouth ulcers she was suffering from were attributable to a poor fluid intake.

At the time of her hospital admission, Eileen was also undergoing chemotherapy treatment in Dublin for stomach cancer and the intravenous dehydration treatment she received at Cavan General Hospital was ineffective due to her veins collapsing.

An investigation into Eileen´s death revealed that it could have been prevented if hospital staff had paid closer attention to Eileen´s medical charts, consulted senior doctors when her condition continued to deteriorate, or spoken with the hospital in Dublin where Eileen was receiving her chemotherapy.

On behalf of the Brady family, Eileen´s eldest son – Martin -made a compensation claim for negligent care in hospital; alleging that he and other members of the Brady family had suffered mental distress due to their mother´s tragic and avoidable death.

The HSE admitted that negligent care in hospital had caused Eileen´s death, and the family´s claim for compensation was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. However, as part of the settlement, the family wanted to hear an apology read out in court.

Consequently, at the High Court in Dublin before Ms Justice Mary Irvine, barristers representing the HSE read a statement in which the Executive apologise for the failings in care which resulted in Eileen´s death and for the grief that had been suffered by Eileen´s family and friends.

Another of Eileen´s sons – Aidan – responded by reading a statement in which he hoped both Cavan General Hospital and the HSE had learned from “the grave mistakes” made in the care of his mother – after which Ms Justice Mary Irvine extended her personal sympathy to Eileen´s family and closed the hearing.

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HSE Apologises for Portlaoise Hospital Childbirth Negligence

Dr Philip Crowley – the National Director of Quality & Patient Safety at the Health Service Executive – has apologised on behalf of the HSE to four families who lost a child due to hospital childbirth negligence at Portlaoise Hospital.

The apology by Dr Crowley was made shortly before an RTE Prime Time television program was scheduled to be broadcast, which highlighted tragic failings in the standard of care at the hospital which led to four perinatal deaths during, or shortly after, the delivery of the babies.

The program – “Fatal Failures” – primarily focused on the story of Roisin and Mark Molloy from Tullamore, County Offaly; whose son Mark died shortly after being delivered on 24th January 2012.

Roisin and Mark had to fight a four-month battle before the hospital acknowledged that their son was still breathing when he was delivered – a condition that is required before an inquest can be held into a fatality.

The hospital´s own investigation into Mark Molloy´s death extended over twenty months – a delay which Dr Crowley described as “lamentable”. He also acknowledged that the Molloys had been deliberately misinformed when they asked questions about the death of their son.

A subsequent independent clinical review into Mark´s death reported “failures in the standard of care provided were casually linked to the foetal hypoxia damage that occurred [and the death of baby Mark]” and made recommendations to prevent such tragedies in the future.

However, as the RTE Investigation Unit discovered, the hospital childbirth negligence continued, and was responsible for the death of three more children due to foetal hypoxia. Two of the deaths were investigated internally, but the parents of the dead children were never advised of the outcomes.

The RTE investigators found that none of the measures that had been recommended following Mark Molloy´s death had been put into practice, and that there was an extreme shortage of midwives to provide as “safe” level of service.

Indeed, whereas the HSE recommends a ratio of one midwife for each twenty-eight women in the later stages of pregnancy, the Portlaoise Hospital had one midwife for every seventy-five expectant mothers – leading to “a lack of understanding of a deteriorating condition resulting in a failure to seek timely medical assistance”.

RTE investigators were also shown a letter written in 2006 by the hospital staff to the then Minister for Health Mary Harney and Minister for Finance Brian Cowen. In the letter concern was expressed over staffing levels at the hospital – a situation had been made clear to the hospital management, but no action had been taken.

The letter concluded by saying there was a “real fear” in the midwifery department that a mother or baby would die before the staffing issues were resolved.

The current Minister for Health James Reilly was invited onto the Today radio show, where he was asked about the hospital childbirth negligence that had taken place at Portlaoise Hospital.

The Minister said that the situation was “utterly unacceptable”, and that he planned to conduct a further investigation into the failings of care at the hospital and the deception that the parents of the dead children had experienced.

“I have asked the Chief Medical Officer to give me a report”, he stated, “It won’t take long and I will take action to make sure that this never happens again.”

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