Little Fighter with Cerebral Palsy Wins €1.35m Lawsuit Against Hospital for Birth Trauma

"Parents' Exemplary Care Helps Child Achieve Milestones Despite Court Order of Anonymity, Says Counsel"

A baby girl has been awarded €1.35m in compensation after suffering a brain injury at birth. The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was born at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) in June 2016. The settlement was approved by Mr Justice Paul Coffey at the High Court. The girl’s mother had opted for the Domino Scheme in CUMH, which involves midwife-led care and natural labour and delivery. It was the parents’ case that the baby girl suffered a brain injury at birth.

The girl’s counsel, Liam Reidy SC, instructed by Cantillons Solicitors, praised the girl’s parents for the “exemplary and total care” they had provided for their daughter since her birth. The girl has made significant progress in relation to motor and cognitive functions, thanks to the care provided by her parents.

Liability was admitted in the case, but the court heard that causation was still in issue. The €1.35m payment is for the next five years and the case will come back before the court for her future care needs to be assessed.

The girl’s mother had strong contractions and attended CUMH in June 2016. She was seen by a midwife, and a CTG trace was started. Foetal movements were reported as good, and the mother was transferred to the maternity ward and then the delivery suite.

It was claimed that it was agreed that the CTG, which monitors the baby’s heart rate, would be reviewed during the obstetric ward round for the early morning shift handover. However, it was alleged that the review did not take place. When the baby was born later, she was in a poor condition.

The girl’s mother told the court that the birth of her daughter had been very traumatic as she did not breathe immediately, and she had to have brain cooling treatment for the first four days of her life, which meant they could not hold her. An MRI later showed a brain injury.

In the proceedings, it was claimed that there was a failure to carry out a requested obstetric review of the CTG trace during a two-hour period on the morning of the delivery when, it was alleged, the CTG trace was unusual or difficult to interpret or when there was a non-reassuring foetal heart rate pattern.

The offer made by an obstetric registrar to review the CTG trace was allegedly refused at a time when obstetric review was needed. There was an alleged failure to continue the CTG trace until the mother was seen during the next obstetric ward round. When the mother was not seen during the obstetric round as planned, it was claimed there was a failure to bring this fact to the attention of the senior midwife or the obstetric staff.

The CTG, it was claimed, had been discontinued on the morning of the delivery when it was claimed it was not reassuring and should have been continued. It was further claimed there was a failure to expedite the delivery.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Coffey praised the girl’s parents for the “magnificent care” they had given her since her birth. The settlement will provide the necessary funds for the girl’s care over the next five years. The case will return to court to assess her future care needs.

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