Medical Negligence News

Couple Settles Claim for Newborn’s Death

Posted on: December 18th, 2015 by Medical Negligence

A couple’s claim for the death of their newborn son has been settled for €70,000 after a case in the High Court.

Fiona Watters was admitted to the Cavan General Hospital on the 20th November 2015 whilst heavily pregnant with her first baby. A short while later her waters broke and, in an attempt to speed up the delivery process, she was administered increasingly high levels of Prostaglandin.

In the evening of the 22nd November, medical staff at the hospital made an effort to deliver the baby naturally. However, after an hour the midwives sought advice from Dr Salah Aziz, a consultant obstetrician, as there were some signs that the baby was suffering from foetal distress.

When Dr Aziz arrived at the hospital’s Labour Ward, he discovered that the only out-of-hours operating theatre was already occupied by another Caesarean Section. In light of this, Dr Azizz attempted a vacuum delivery and a forceps delivery on the baby, yet neither worked. As soon as the operating theatre was available, the baby – a boy named Jamie – was delivered in poor condition.

Soon after his birth Jamie was transferred to a Special Babies Unit in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin. He sadly died a short while after his admittance, just days old in his mother’s arms. A subsequent investigation was launched into Jamie’s death, yet was stopped by the High Court in 2013 when Dr Aziz pointed out that the investigators that were appointed by the HSE did not undertake proper procedures.

Ms Watters and the baby’s father, her partner Francis Flynn, had received a copy of the report constructed by investigators and sought legal counsel after the termination of the investigation. They then proceeded to make a claim for compensation against the Cavan General Hospital and the HSE.

Though the HSE did not concede full liability for Jamie’s death for a year after the claim was made, they did commission another investigation. They brought in an independent team of investigators after the deaths of two more children in the same ward.

It was not until December of last year that the cause of Jamie’s death was determined to be medical misadventure, with the large doses of Prostaglandin, the failure of Dr Aziz to notify the registrar of Jamie’s imminent delivery and the lack of available operating theatres all acting as contributory factors.

After this report, the State Claims Agency negotiated a €70,000 settlement for Jamie’s parents, with the case proceeding to the High Court for approval of the package. Mr Justice Richard Humphreys oversaw proceedings, and heard that the settlement hoped to reflect the degree of suffering sustained by Jamie’s parents. Judge Humphreys approved the figure, adding that €5,000 of the sum should be paid into court funds for the benefits of the couple’s daughter.