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Interim Cerebral Palsy Compensation Settlement Approved by Judge after High Court Hearing

A €1.5 million interim cerebral palsy compensation settlement has approved in the High Court in favour of a County Mayo teenager who suffered severe birth injuries due to alleged hospital negligence.

Mary Malee (14) was born at the Mayo General Hospital on 11th October 1999 by emergency Caesarean section after there had been an alleged avoidable delay in finding a consultant to assist with the delivery and a claimed breakdown in communicating a deceleration of the foetal heart rate.

When Mary was born, a lack of oxygen in the womb resulted from her sustaining cerebral palsy, and she is now cared for full-time by her parents – although able to attend a mainstream school, from where she hopes to go to university.

Through her mother – Maura Malee of Swinford, County Mayo – Mary made a claim for cerebral palsy compensation against the Mayo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In the claim it was alleged that there had been a failure to intervene and initiate a Caesarean section delivery in an appropriate timeframe when it became apparent that Mary was suffering distress in the womb and likely to need resuscitation.

Mayo General Hospital and the HSE both denied their liability for Mary´s cerebral palsy; but agreed to an interim cerebral palsy compensation settlement of €1.5 million, with a further assessment of Mary´s needs to be made within two years pending the introduction of structured compensation payments.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that Mary´s mother had attended the consultant who had delivered her three previous children just days before Mary was born. The consultant was about to start treatment for cancer and would be unavailable for Mary´s delivery; but he told Maura that arrangements would be made for another consultant to be present.

When Maura saw her family doctor the following day, he told her to go to hospital immediately as she was displaying symptoms of pre-eclampsia. On arrival at the hospital, Maura was transferred to the labour ward, where she underwent a CTG which revealed a series of decelerations shortly before 6:00am.

A consultant who was called at the time was unavailable to attend for the Caesarean operation, and a second consultant arrived shortly before 7:00am. According to evidence given in court, there was an alleged failure of communication in relation to the severity of Maura´s condition, and the Caesarean procedure did not get underway until after 7:20am.

In court, Mary´s legal representatives told Judge Irvine that had the procedure been started earlier, Mary´s cerebral palsy injuries could have been prevented. Subsequently Mary read out a statement in which she commented “It would have been appreciated had the HSE/Mayo General Hospital said they were sorry”, after which Judge Irvine approved the interim settlement of compensation for a delayed delivery and adjourned the case.

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