Couple Compensated for Death of Newborn

A five-figure settlement of compensation has been awarded to a couple whose son died from medical negligence after the case was heard in the High Court, Dublin.

On the 20th November 2012, Fiona Watters was admitted to the Cavan General Hospital expecting her first baby. In the morning of the 22nd, her waters and medical staff administered Prostaglandin to help move the labour along.

As the day progressed, the dose of the drug increased in strength. That evening, an attempt was made at a natural delivery, though after an hour, no progress had been made. The midwives attending Ms Watters rang Dr Salah Aziz, a consultant obstetrician, and told him that the baby was not yet visible and that there were indicators that the baby was suffering foetal distress.

When Mr Aziz arrived at the labour ward in the hospital, he discovered that another Caesarean Section was being carried out in the only out-of-hours theatre. As such, he tried both a forceps and vacuum delivery to no avail. Eventually the operating theatre became available, and Ms Watters had an emergency Caesarean Section. Her baby, names Jamie, was delivered shortly after, yet he was in very poor condition.

The baby was quickly transferred to a special care unit in the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, where he died just two days later in his mother’s arms. An investigation ensued looking into the circumstances of Jamie’s death, yet was stopped by the High Court in 2013 when Dr Aziz pointed out that the investigators appointed by the HSE did not undertake proper procedures.

Ms Watters and her partner, Francis Flynn, had received an advanced copy of the report and sought legal counsel. After this, they proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Cavan General Hospital and the HSE.

The HSE did not accept any liability for Jamie’s death for twelve months after the claim was made, and then ordered another investigation to be carried out. This team was composed of an independent review team, as there were two more deaths of children at the Cavan General Hospital.

In December 2014, it was determined that Jamie’s death was caused by medical misadventure. The increasingly large doses of Prostaglandin, Dr Aziz’s failure to notify the registrar of Jamie’s imminent birth and the fact that there was only one out-of-hours theatre at the hospital were all listed to be contributing factors.

Negotiations commenced with the State Claims Agency in order for the claim of compensation to be settled. Due to the trauma sustained by Jamie’s parents, a package of €70,000 was agreed upon and the approved by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys in the Dublin High Court.