Woman settles case over alleged birth injuries for €31m (Via Irish Times)

HSE reached settlement without admission of liability in case involving woman with cerebral palsy and brain injury

A young woman who sued over the circumstances of her birth at a Limerick maternity hospital has settled her High Court action against the Health Service Executive (HSE) for more than €31 million.

It is one of the highest payouts in the settlement of a case involving allegations of injury at birth. The settlement is without an admission of liability. The young woman cannot be identified by order of the court.

Her counsel, Dr John O’Mahony SC, told the court his client has cerebral palsy, a brain injury and cognitive impairment. He said she is adept at communication through speech and sign language but has a hearing loss.

She took an action against the HSE over the circumstances of her birth at St Munchin’s Regional Maternity Hospital, Limerick almost 20 years ago.

The HSE, counsel said, intends to offer an apology to the woman and her family but it will not be a public apology. He said the apology will be sent to the young woman and her parents at a later date.

Counsel said the €31 million was a final settlement figure and was achieved after negotiations. The money is to be paid out at different points to the family during the woman’s life. Counsel said the family was particularly concerned regarding the young woman’s later years.

He said the settlement package had been accepted by the HSE “as the prudent way of going forward”. The woman’s mother told Mr Justice Paul Coffey the family was happy with the settlement.

Mr Justice Coffey said he was sure the apology would be a source of comfort to the woman and her family. The judge had no hesitation in approving the settlement and he conveyed his best wishes to the woman, who sat in the court with her parents.

It was claimed by the woman’s side that there were two omissions in the care of the mother around the time of the birth.

A urine specimen was allegedly not examined, and if it had been, it would have shown an infection that could have been treated, it was contended. The second omission was that full dilation was not diagnosed and steroids were not given that would have been beneficial, it was claimed. The baby was delivered by Caesarean section.

It was claimed there was a failure to note that the mother was suffering from a urinary tract infection. There was also an alleged failure to properly diagnose the mother’s condition by way of premature labour when she attended the hospital.

It was further claimed the baby was deprived of the chance or opportunity of having treatment that would have assisted her in the birthing process. The claims were denied. The settlement will provide for the cost of care and therapies into the future.

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