Court Hearing for Failure to Diagnose Pregnancy Complication

Dublin’s High Court has approved a seven-figure settlement of compensation for a woman whose vasa praevia complications were not diagnosed throughout her pregnancy.

In October 2010 at Cork’s University Maternity Hospital twin boys were delivered by an emergency Caesarean Section to a mother from Midleton, Co Cork. However, whilst one of the infants was declared healthy, the second had suffered foetal distress in utero and as such was weak after delivery. He was then diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy.

Acting on behalf of her young son, the mother made a claim for medical negligence compensation for the failure to diagnose vasa praaevia complications during her pregnancy. Vasa praaevia is a condition in which the blood vessels of the foetus are near the internal uterine opening, putting them at risk of rupturing during labour. The woman, who has remained anonymous, alleges that earlier scans revealed that one of the placentas was low-lying.

However, representatives for the Health Service Executives (HSE) and Cork University Maternity Hospital – against whom the allegations were made – denied that they were liable for the birth injury. They claimed that it was not standard practice to conduct further scans or tests after such a placenta is identified to eliminate the risk of vasa praaevia complications. They did, however, agree to pay an interim sum of compensation without admitting guilt.

The claim was made on behalf of a minor and as a consequence had to be approved by a High Court judge before any settlement could be awarded. The approval hearing was held earlier this week at the high Court of Dublin, where the judge was told about the circumstances of the pregnancy and birth and what could have been done to prevent the boy’s injuries.

The court was also told of how the child, now aged six, has received a National Children of Courage Award. His friends and family had also raised funds for him to fly to the United States for selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery, which allowed him to walk for the first time. However, he still requires therapy for speech and language acquisition.

The interim settlement was approved by the High Court. The case was then adjourned for five years, after which an additional assessment will be conducted.