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Final Settlement of Compensation for the Failure to Refer Approved in Court

A final settlement of compensation for the failure to refer a pregnant mother with an alarming rise in blood antibodies has been approved in the High Court.

Isabelle “Izzy” Sheehan was born on 29th November 2004 in the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in Cork suffering from severe spastic quadriparetic cerebral palsy. One month before her birth, a blood test on Isabelle´s mother – Catherine – had revealed an “alarming rise” in blood antibodies that presented a risk of injury to the unborn child; however, consultant obstetrician Dr David Corr had failed to refer Catherine to specialist in foetal medicine.

Now eleven years of age, and despite being described as “bright and intelligent”, Isabelle has difficulty in communicating. Isabelle has a specially-equipped machine that helps her to walk and she attends a Gaelscoil near her home in Mallow in County Cork where she has learned a few words in Irish, but she will required full-time care for the rest of her life.

Liability for Isabelle´s tragic condition was admitted by Dr Corr after Catherine had claimed compensation for the failure to refer her to a specialist. The consultant obstetrician said he “very much regrets the outcome in relation to Isabelle´s birth” during a hearing to approve an initial interim settlement of compensation in October 2011.

A second interim settlement of compensation for the failure to refer was approved in 2013 and – due for a further interim settlement of compensation – Isabelle´s mother asked for a final lump sum payment in order to avoid the disruption to Isabelle´s life in the weeks leading up to each assessment of her needs.

The request for a lump sum payment was granted and, approving the final settlement of €9 million compensation for the failure to refer Catherine to a specialist, High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly said it was a fair and reasonable settlement and underscored the necessity for the introduction of a periodic payments scheme.

Agreeing it was understandable that Isabelle’s parents were weary with interim settlements, Mr Justice Kelly paid tribute to Catherine and Colm Sheehan – saying that Isabelle would not have made the progress she had without the “truly remarkable” love, care and attention they have lavished on her.

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