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Judge Awards Compensation for a Swab Left Inside during Childbirth

A judge at the High Court has awarded €117,000 compensation for a swab left inside during childbirth to a mother who subsequently developed an infection.

Sarah Daly from Rathfarnham in Dublin gave birth to a healthy child at the Mount Carmel Hospital on April 22nd 2013. The event should have been a very happy experience for Sarah and her husband but, on April 25th, Sarah returned to the hospital complaining of extreme pain in her lower abdomen.

Despite Sarah having recently given birth, medical professionals at the Mount Carmel Hospital failed to conduct an internal investigation until April 28th. The investigation revealed the presence of a retained swab that had swollen to the “size of a plum”.

The swab left inside of Sarah was removed; but, due to a failure to prescribe her with antibiotics, Sarah developed an infection. After she recovered, Sarah sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a swab left inside during childbirth against her consultant doctor Valerie Donnelly and attending physician Charles Julian Dockeray.

The two defendants acknowledged liability for the Sarah´s injuries, but a settlement of compensation for a swab left inside during childbirth could not be agreed. Consequently, the case went to the High Court for the assessment of damages, where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the High Court, Judge Cross awarded Sarah €117,000 compensation for a swab left inside during childbirth. The judge commented he believed the award to be “fair and reasonable” because what ought to have been a very joyous occasion for Sarah had become something that will live with her for the rest of her life.

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Settlements of Compensation for Negligent Care at a Crèche Approved in Court

Twenty-two settlements of compensation for negligent care at a crèche have been approved at the High Court. The settlements amounting to more than €1 million.

In May 2013, RTÉ broadcast a documentary – “Breach of Trust” – after an investigation into the Links Abington Creche in Malahide, Dublin. The documentary revealed a poor standard of care at the crèche, with several recorded incidents of physical and verbal abuse against the pre-school children in the creche´s care.

Following the broadcast, the parents of twenty-two of the children sought legal advice and claimed compensation for negligent care at a crèche on behalf of their children against Links crèche Southside Ltd, Links crèche Montessori Ltd, and the owners of the Abington crèche – Padraig and Deidre Kelly. The parents also compensation claims for the mental stress they had suffered.

The defendants entered a defence against the claims for compensation; but, at the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard that the parents´ compensation claims for mental stress had been settled out-of-court, and that offers of compensation for negligent care at a crèche had been made in respect of the children´s claims without an admission of liability.

The offers of settlement were divided into three categories. Children who had been physically or verbally abused during the broadcast of the documentary were offered up to €75,000. Children who had been in the vicinity of those who had been abused were offered lesser amounts, while those who were present at the time of the alleged abuse, but not shown in the broadcast, were offered amounts of compensation for negligent care at a crèche starting from €40,000.

Judge Cross was told that many of the children had developed “behavioural difficulties” – especially around nappy changing time – prior to being removed from the crèche by their parents. The barrister representing the children told the judge that none of the children appear to have suffered any long-term consequences due to the alleged negligence. The judge than approved the offers of compensation for negligent care at a crèche.

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HSE Open Disclosure Policy Not Being Applied Claims Examiner

The Irish Examiner has published an Op-Ed in which it is claimed the HSE open disclosure policy has a long way to go before being put into practice.

The HSE open disclosure policy of communicating to patients and their families when “things go wrong” with the standard of healthcare delivered to them has been in force since November 2013. Yet, according to an editorial opinion published in the Irish Examiner, although the policy is good in theory, it is not being put into practise in Ireland´s hospitals.

The author of the Op-Ed, Catherine Shanahan, supports her claim that the HSE open disclosure policy is not being applied with details of seven high profile medical negligence claims from 2015. These cases demonstrate how the Health Service Executive is failing to own up to mistakes and forcing patients families to go to court to get the truth about the standard of care they received.

The case of Gill Russell is possibly the one most people will remember because of the subsequent actions of the State Claims Agency. Gill was born in 2006 suffering from cerebral palsy after a “prolonged and totally chaotic” delivery during which he was starved of oxygen in the womb. It was not until 2012 that the family received an apology from the HSE and an interim settlement of compensation was approved.

Due to the fact that no system of periodic payments has been introduced, Gill´s family returned to the High Court in December 2014 and were awarded a €13.5 million lump sum settlement – the largest ever award of compensation for cerebral palsy. The State Claims Agency appealed the value of the settlement and, in November 2014, the appeal was rejected. Yet the State Claims Agency plans to take the case to the Supreme Court – depriving Gill´s family of much needed funds to pay for his care.

Other cases used as examples that the HSE open disclosure policy is not being applied included the case of Skye Worthington, whose family waited almost four years before receiving an apology for their daughter´s mismanaged birth, and Katie Manton – another little girl who suffers from cerebral palsy due to a mismanaged birth. In Katie´s case, her parents waited four years for an admission of liability and seven years for an apology. The apology was described as “too little, too late” by Katie´s father.

Throughout the remaining examples in Ms Shanahan´s article, it becomes abundantly clear that the HSE open disclosure policy is not being applied and the volume of money devising the policy and distributing booklets to patients and medical professionals has just been another huge Health Service waste at the expense of the taxpayer.

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