Dublin High Court has approved an interim settlement of compensation for brain damage due to Syntocinon and the failure to monitor once it had been administered.
Syntocinon is the brand name of the synthetic drug oxytocin. It is frequently used in maternity wards to induce labour and accelerate contractions. For many expectant mothers Syntocinon has the benefits of reducing the length of time they spend in labour and helping the womb to contract after childbirth.
However, when Syntocinon is being administered, both mother and child have to be carefully Syntocinon is listed as one of ten “high-alert medications” because of the adverse reactions it has with with other medication and because it can escalate foetal distress when a baby is deprived of oxygen.
On 20th July 2007, Patrick Brannigan was delivered by emergency Caesarean Section at the Cavan General Hospital in a very poor condition. Prior to his delivery a CTG scan had indicated signs of foetal distress, yet his mother – Niamh – had been administered Syntocinon to accelerate her labour.
The administration of Syntocinon had the effect of escalating Patrick´s distress in the womb, due to which he was deprived of oxygen and born suffering from dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Now seven years old, Patrick has no means of communication and is confined to a wheelchair.
On her son´s behalf, Niamh Brannigan claimed compensation for brain damage due to Syntocinon, alleging that the labour accelerant should not have been administered after the CTG scan had indicated signs of foetal distress.
Niamh also claimed that there was a failure to monitor the foetal heartrate while she was in labour and that Patrick´s birth at the Cavan General Hospital was mismanaged. Following an investigation into the claims, Cavan General Hospital admitted that a “catalogue of errors” had resulted in Niamh and Patrick receiving a sub-standard level of healthcare.
The hospital issued an apology to the family and an interim settlement of compensation for brain damage due to Syntocinon amounting to €2.1 million was agreed, subject to the settlement being approval as in Patrick´s best interests by a judge.
Consequently at the Dublin High Court, the circumstances leading up to Patrick´s birth were retold to Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The judge heard that Patrick is a cheerful, good humoured boy who is cared for full-time by his parents. Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of compensation for brain damage due to Syntocinon and adjourned the hearing for three years for an assessment of Patrick´s future needs to be made.