Monthly Archives: July 2015

Birth Injury Settlement Awarded After 18 Day Delay

Dublin’s High Court have approved a multi-million euro settlement for a child that was born with severe injuries because of a delayed delivery. 

When Alex Butler was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005, she was described as “blue and lifeless”. This was because a doctor, who was substituting for Alex’s mother’s regular obstetrician, did not diagnosed that there were complications in Alex’s birth. As a result, there was a delay of ten minutes in her delivery. 

During this time, Alex was started of oxygen in the womb and sustained severe damage to her brain. Despite this, Alex is described as possessing a “bright personality with a huge intelligence”. However, she is also tetraplegic and relies on a wheelchair for movement. She will need round-the-clock care for the rest of her life. 

Acting on behalf of her daughter, Sonya Butler made a claim for Alex’s birth injuries against the Health Service Executive and Waterford Regional Hospital. The HSE acknowledged liability for Alex’s injuries, and negotiated with the family to organise an interim settlement of compensation in 2013 such that  structured settlement of periodic payments could be introduced. As a result the case was adjourned for two years. 

However, the legislation required for such a periodic settlement to be established was never introduced. As such, the family returned to the High Court, where their case was overseen by Mr Justice Anthony Barr. 

To begin the hearing, an apology was read to Alex and her parents by a spokesperson representing Waterford Regional Hospital. However, after this the parties could not agree as to how much compensation Alex was entitled to due to her severe disabilities. 

The parties continued to negotiate the settlement for eighteen days after the initial hearing. Eventually, an agreement was reached, and a €9 million settlement of compensation was approved by Judge Barr in the High Court. The judge commented that the settlement was both reasonable and fair. 

Alex’s parents were shocked and disappointed at the protracted negotiations, with Sonya criticising the State Claims Agency when speaking with reporters after the announcement of the settlement: “They fought tooth and nail. They basically want Alex to have an existence, not a life. They want her to scrape by with the bare minimum rather than her having the life that she should have had.”

Six-Figure Compensation Settlement for Medical Instruments Left in Patient

A compensation settlement of €140,000 has been awarded to a woman after a vaginal swab was left inside her after the birth of her child. 

Claire Lalor, from Swords in Co. Dublin, gave birth to her child on the 24th December 2012 at the National Maternity Hospital. Claire was discharged three days after the birth, but returned twice within the next two weeks as she experiencing pain in her abdomen and had a malodorous vagina. 

However, on neither visit to the maternity hospital was Claire internally examined, though on her second visit she was prescribed antibiotics to clear what medical staff expected to be an infection. However, the smell became worse and Claire continued to experience severe pain. On the 16th January she returned to the hospital and was eventually examined, after which it was discovered that a vaginal swab had been left inside Claire after her labour. 

Despite the removal of the swab, Claire continued to feel pain and discomfort. After her visit to the hospital on the 18th January, she was discharged after a diagnosis of post-natal depression. Yet her condition deteriorated, and Claire began to suffer from sweating, chills and diarrhoea. 

Claire then visited Beaumont Hospital, where she was told that she had a Clostridium difficile infection, which was contracted as a result of the unnecessary diagnosis of antibiotics. After her recovery, Claire sought legal counsel before making a claim for compensation because of the trauma and pain she suffered as a result of the swab being left inside her. 

Liability for Claire’s injuries was acknowledged by the National Maternity Hospital, though they contested the extent to which Claire suffered psychologically. They argued that her symptoms could all be attributed to post-natal depression, rather than the trauma of the forgotten swab. There was no agreement over the amount of compensation to which Claire was entitled, and as such the case proceeded to the High Court of Dublin for an assessment of damages. 

Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings in the High Court, where he agreed with the consensus at the hospital that the difficult labour was a good indicator that Claire suffered from post-natal depression. He also agreed that her continuing symptoms could be attributed to an underlying condition. 

However, Judge Cross conceded that – had Claire received adequate post-natal care – her recovery from post-natal depression would have been faster, and that Claire was “entirely appropriately extremely distressed” by the experience. Claire was then awarded €140,000 for the injuries and infections she sustained because of the forgotten vaginal swab.