Medical Negligence News

High Court Approves Settlement for Injuries Sustained at Birth

Posted on: April 29th, 2013 by Medical Negligence

The High Court in Dublin has given its approval of a €1.4 million interim compensation settlement for the injuries that a young girl sustained at birth because there was no available obstetrician.

When Alex Butler, aged eight form Dunmore in Co. Waterford, was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005, she was deprived of oxygen in the womb. This was because of a delay in her delivery, and due to the lack of oxygen Alex suffered serious damage to her brain. Now, she is tetraplegic and is reliant on round-the-clock care.

The delay – just twelve minutes long – was because the regional hospital failed to employ an adequate number of trained medical staff available to assist with Alex’s birth. All three obstetricians employed at the hospital – including Alex’s mother’s consultant obstetrician – were granted leave at the same time. Despite the fact that three obstetricians were now gone, only one locum obstetricians was hired to cover the shifts.

Sonya Butler, Alex’s mother, made a claim for compensation on her daughter’s behalf. They made the claim on the grounds that the Health Service Executive (HSE) has been negligent as they failed to provide enough medical staff to the hospital. They also claimed that the pre-operative care that Mrs Butler received was not adequate as it failed to recognise that she needed an emergency Caesarean section.

The case was heard at the High Court in Dublin, where the HSE admitted liability for the injuries that Alex sustained at birth. A spokesperson for the Waterford Regional Hospital read an apology to the family; both the hospital and the HSE have acknowledged that mistakes were made in Alex’s delivery that should never have occurred.

An interim settlement of €1.4 million was settled between the two parties for the next two years, after which another review will be conducted to assess Alex’s future care needs.