Archive for April 2014

Judge Approves Interim Compensation for Birth Injuries Due to Hospital Negligence

A judge at Dublin High Court has approved an interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to hospital negligence in favour of a 14-year-old girl.

On October 11th 1999, Mary Malee needed to be resuscitated after being born by emergency Caesarean section at the Mayo General Hospital. Mary´s birth had been delayed by the non-availability of a paediatric consultant and the failure to communicate the severity of her mother´s condition. Due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb, and the delay in her delivery, Mary suffered brain damage and was subsequently diagnosed as suffering from cerebral palsy.

Through her mother – Maura Malee of Swinford, County Mayo – Mary claimed compensation for birth injuries due to hospital negligence 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 conduct a Caesarean section in a timely manner, and a failure to ensure the presence of a paediatric consultant when it was known that the foetus was suffering distress in the womb and likely to need resuscitation.

Mayo General Hospital and the HSE both denied their liability for Mary´s birth injuries; but an interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to hospital negligence had been agreed amounting to €1.5 million, with a further assessment to be conducted within two years. As the claim for compensation for birth injuries due to medical negligence had been made on behalf of a child, the settlement first had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in Mary´s best interests.

At Dublin High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that Mary was Maura Malee´s fourth child, and that prior to Mary´s birth Maura had attended the consultant paediatrician who had delivered her three previous children. The paediatrician had told Maura that he would not be able to attend her at Mary´s delivery as he was about to start treatment for cancer, but he would make arrangements for her to be transferred to the care of another consultant.

Maura continued that she had seen her GP the following day and was told to go to hospital immediately as she was exhibiting symptoms of pre-eclampsia. On arrival at the hospital; Maura had been transferred to the labour ward and underwent a CTG shortly before 6.00am. The scan showed a deceleration of the foetal heart rate and the substitute consultant was called. When he arrived at shortly before 7.00am, Maura´s condition was not communicated properly and the Caesarean operation did not take place until after 7.20am.

The court heard that, had it been possible to commence the birth earlier, Mary´s injuries could have been avoided and – after a statement had been read out by Mary in which she commented “It would have been appreciated had the HSE/Mayo General Hospital said they were sorry” – Judge Irvine approved the interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to hospital negligence and adjourned the hearing for three years.

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Man to Receive Compensation for Arm Injury at Birth after Second Legal Action

A South Wales man, who was born with a permanent disability due to excessive force being used during his delivery, is to receive £450,000 compensation for an arm injury at birth in an out of court settlement.

Jamie Lewis (23) from Blackwood, Caerphilly, was born at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, South Wales, in 1991 with nerve damage to his neck after doctors at the hospital had used excessive force to free him from the birth canal during his delivery.

As Jamie grew up, the nerve damage manifested into the paralysis of his left arm and hand; which prevented him from pursuing the activities of his peers, made him a target for bullying and hindered his social development.

At the age of four, Jamie´s mother – Cheryl Lewis-Thomas – attempted to make a claim for an arm injury at birth against the local health board on her son´s behalf; but the solicitor she approached at the time declined to take the case and Ms Lewis-Thomas temporarily dropped the claim.

Several years later Ms Lewis-Thomas was encouraged to once again make a compensation claim for an arm injury at birth and, when Jamie was eighteen years of age, he made the claim on his own behalf against the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board which is now responsible for the provision of healthcare at the Royal Gwent Hospital.

Jamie found legal representatives that believed he had a viable claim, and they argued successfully that the team at Jamie´s delivery had failed to follow the correct protocols when Jamie became trapped in the birth canal and were responsible for his arm paralysis due to the negligent actions used to free him.

The Aneurin Bevan University Health Board accepted liability for the damage to Jamie´s nerves during his delivery, and an out of court settlement of compensation for an arm injury at birth was agreed amounting to £450,000.

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Claim for the Misdiagnosis of HIV still Waiting for a Verdict

A claim for the misdiagnosis of HIV is still waiting to be resolved after the judge hearing the claimant´s case at the Dublin High Court reserved judgement.

On 17th August 2010, Michelle Kenny (35) attended St James Hospital in Dublin complaining of feeling unwell following her return from a holiday in Majorca. Following a chest x-ray and an ECG, doctors admitted Michelle into the hospital believing that she might have a blood clot on her lung.

Michelle was given the all-clear and discharged a week later, but on October 6th she was recalled to the hospital´s Outpatients Clinic to have a blood test for tuberculosis. While she was there Michelle was asked if she would consent to a test for HIV.  Michelle agreed, and the following week the hospital rang with the results of the blood tests.

After giving her the news that there was no indication of tuberculosis, the hospital informed Michelle that it appeared she was positive for HIV. Michelle was naturally devastated and believed she was going to die. Three further blood tests confirmed that Michelle did not have the virus but by then Michelle had withdrawn from her social environment having suffered a nervous shock.

An investigation was conducted into how Michelle could have been given the news she was HIV positive, which revealed the results of her blood test had been mixed up with another patient´s. After the mix up had been explained to her, Michelle contacted a solicitor and made a claim for the misdiagnosis of HIV against St James Hospital.

As a result of her emotional trauma, Michelle withdrew from her social environment and, after it had been discovered that she had been given the results of somebody else´s blood test in error, contacted a solicitor to see if she was entitled to claim compensation for being given the wrong test results.

The hospital contested the claim for the misdiagnosis of HIV on the grounds that – although an error had been made – Michelle had suffered no loss or injury as a result. With no agreement on liability, the case proceeded to Dublin High Court where it was heard by Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon.

At the hearing, Judge O´Hanlon heard how Michelle had become distressed after being told her blood tests indicated she was HIV positive; and was also told by representatives of St James Hospital that the error had been identified quickly and that Michelle had been advised of the mistake straightaway.

Judge O´Hanlon decided that she needed more time to consider the merits of Michelle´s claim for the misdiagnosis of HIV and reserved judgement on the case for a future date yet to be announced.

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