Claim for Birth Injuries due to the Lack of an Available Obstetrician Heard in Court

A judge at Dublin High Court has approved a €1.4 million interim settlement of a claim for birth injuries due to the lack of an available obstetrician.

Alex Butler (8) from Dunmore East in County Waterford was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005 after an avoidable delay in her delivery. During the delay, Alex was starved of oxygen in the womb and suffered brain damage. She now suffers from permanent tetraplegia and requires care twenty-four hours a day.

The delay of just twelve minutes was attributed to the hospital´s failure to have an adequate number of properly trained competent medical staff available to assist with Alex´s delivery. Her mother´s consultant obstetrician had been allowed to take leave at the same time as the hospital´s two other obstetricians and the hospital had employed just one locum obstetrician to cover the shortfall.

Through her mother – Sonya – Alex made a claim for birth injuries due to the lack of an available obstetrician, alleging that the hospital and Health Service Executive (HSE) had been negligent. It was further alleged that Sonya´s pre-operative assessment had been substandard and there was a failure to recognise the necessity for an emergency Caesarean section.

The Dublin High Court heard that the HSE admitted liability for Alex´s injuries, and a representative from Waterford Regional Hospital read out an apology for the mismanagement of Alex´s birth. Both the HSE and Waterford Regional Hospital accepted that the mistakes that led to Alex´s birth injuries should never have been allowed to happen.

The Court also heard that a €1.4 million interim settlement of Alex´s claim for birth injuries due to the lack of an available obstetrician had been agreed between the parties. The settlement is for two years, when Alex´s case will be reviewed again and an assessment of Alex´s future care needs conducted.