The couple, whose little girl died very soon after her birth, have declined to accept an apology delivered by the Health Service Executive, citing it as “six years too late”.
On the 11th February 2009, Caoimhe Mulcair was born at Limerick’s Midland Regional Hospital. Her parents, Joan and John, had been trying to have a child for many years and were elated at the birth. However, very shortly after the delivery, it was noticed that Caoimhe’s cry was abnormal for a newborn. The baby was then transferred to the hospital’s special care unit, but died just thirty-nine minutes after her birth in her mother’s arms.
After seeking legal counsel, Joan and John made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Health Service Executives (HSE) and the Midland General Hospital. In the claim, they allege that the hospital’s failure to act after Caoimhe’s foetal heart rate was noted as slow, which resulted in her being starved of oxygen in utero. However, the HSE disputed these allegations until September 2014, at which time the Mulcairs were offered an undisclosed settlement of compensation.
Last week, a court in Limerick ruled that Caoimhe had died because of medical misadventure. This was based on evidence that a slow foetal heart lead to the deprivation of oxygen to her brain. During the hearing, Collette Cowan, Chief Executive of the Midland Regional Hospital, read an apology to Joan and John for their daughter’s death.
Yet this apology was rejected by the couple, who told reporters that it was delivered “six years too late”. John told reporters, once the inquest had finished, that whilst the couple were fighting for a compensation settlement, the HSE issued no apology and that it was shameful that the HSE “an ordinary decent family through the pain and torment we had to endure for over six years”.
Later, a spokesperson for the HSE clarified that they did not handle compensation disputes, but the State Claims Agency did. However, a columnist for the Irish Times was not impressed by this “passing of the buck”, writing that “A common interest links the HSE and the claims agency and there has been a persistent pattern of denial, prevarication and years of unnecessary delay in dealing with medical claims. The public and aggrieved patients deserve better. So do the vast majority of medical professionals