Wednesday, May 17, 2023

High Court reporters

A six-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who sued over the circumstances of her birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) has settled a High Court action with a €1.35 million interim payment.

The girl’s counsel said she has achieved a huge amount in relation to motor and cognitive functions “thanks to the exemplary and total care” provided by her parents.

Liam Reidy SC, instructed by Cantillons Solicitors, said the girl’s mother had opted for the Domino Scheme in CUMH, which involves midwife-led care and natural labour and delivery. It was their case that the baby girl suffered a brain injury at birth.

Approving the settlement, which allows for an interim payment for the next five years, Mr Justice Paul Coffey praised the girl’s parents for “the magnificent care they have given her since her birth”.

The girl had, through her mother, sued the HSE. Liability was admitted in the case, but the court heard causation was still in issue.

Interim payment

The €1.35 million payment is for the next five years, at which point the case will come back before the court when her future care needs will be assessed.

The mother attended at CUMH in June 2016 having experienced strong contractions.

She was seen by a midwife, a CTG trace was started, and fetal movements were reported as good. The mother then was transferred to the maternity ward before being moved to the delivery suite.

It was claimed that it was agreed the CTG, which monitors the baby’s heart rate, would be reviewed during the obstetric ward rounds for the early morning shift handover, but it was alleged the review did not take place. When the baby was born later, she was in poor condition.

The girl’s mother told the court the birth of her daughter had been very traumatic as she did not breathe immediately, and she had to have brain cooling treatment for the first four days of her life, which meant they could not hold her. She added an MRI later showed a brain injury.

In the proceedings, it was claimed there was a failure to carry out a requested obstetric review of the CTG trace during a two-hour period on the morning of the delivery when, it was claimed, the CTG trace was unusual or difficult to interpret or when there was a non-reassuring fetal heart rate pattern.

The offer made by an obstetric registrar to review the CTG trace was allegedly refused at a time when obstetric review was needed and there was an alleged failure to continue the CTG trace until the mother was seen during the next obstetric ward round.

When the mother was not seen during the obstetric round as planned, it was claimed there was an alleged failure to bring this fact to the attention of the senior midwife or the obstetric staff.

The CTG, it was alleged, had been discontinued on the morning of the delivery when it was claimed it was not reassuring and should have been continued.

It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to expedite the delivery.

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