Court Hears Misuse of Syntocinon Resulted in Birth Injuries

The Dublin High Court has heard that the misuse of syntocinon resulted in birth injuries to a young girl who now suffers from dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Grace Orchard (8) from Carrigaline in County Cork was born at St Finbarr´s Maternity Hospital on 23rd February 2006. Prior to her delivery, her mother had been administered the drug syntocinon to speed up her contractions.

However, syntocinon also has the effect of exacerbating foetal distress and rather than conduct a Caesarean section on her mother, Grace was delivered by forceps after four previous attempts to bring her into the world – including one using a vacuum cup – had failed.

Grace had to be resuscitated after she was born, and was in a poor condition due to the trauma she had suffered in the womb. She was subsequently diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy which – according to her solicitor – was attributable to “appalling poor handling” by hospital staff during her delivery.

Through her mother – Deidre O´Callaghan – Grace made a compensation claim against St Finbarr´s Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE); alleging that the misuse of syntocinon resulted in birth injuries.

The HSE admitted responsibility for Grace´s birth injuries two weeks before a court hearing to determine liability was scheduled to commence. Consequently the case proceeded for the assessment of damages only.

Describing the circumstances of Grace´s birth as a “tragedy”, Grace´s solicitor told Mr Justice Daniel Herbert at Dublin High Court that Grace had been left in a catastrophic position and that the HSE should apologise for the misuse of syntocinon that resulted in birth injuries.

The Court heard that Grace´s family did everything they could for her during her early years – including taking her to a specialist centre in New York for physiotherapy – and that Grace had been accepted into mainstream school, but the services available to her are being reduced due to cut-backs. The case was adjourned for a full assessment of Grace´s future requirements to be made.