Medical Negligence News

Court Approves Settlement for Brain Damaged Patient after Four Week Hearing

Posted on: August 4th, 2015 by ukmedn_editor

Dublin’s High Court have allowed a compensation settlement of €1.75million to be paid to a patient that suffered brain damage due to hospital negligence.

The incident occurred on the 6th September 1996, when Thomas O’Connor was born in the Sligo General Hospital. He was deprived of oxygen in the womb and consequently showed no signs of life at birth. However, the baby was resuscitated and moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital, yet he had a heart attack en route. His brain was again deprived of oxygen and the medical staff had to carry out another resuscitation.

Almost nineteen years later, Mr O’Connor is a spastic quadriplegic, blind and needs to be tube-fed, all as a result of the brain damage. He is a resident of a full-time care facility in Collooney, Co. Sligo where his mother – Anne – visits him daily. It was through his mother that Mr O’Connor made lodged a compensation claim against Sligo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE) for the brain damage he sustained at birth. He claimed that the staff at the hospital neglected to monitor the foetal heart rate, and that the heart attack was due to inadequate ventilation after the first resuscitation.

Both parties denied that there was any negligence on their part, and as a result the case was heard at the High Court in Dublin, overseen by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The hearing lasted four weeks, during which the judge was told that despite observing foetal distress, the CTG trace that monitored Mr O’Connor’s hear rate in the womb had been discontinued on the morning of his birth. It was alleged that this potentially delayed the birth by unto four hours, and had the distress been acted upon earlier, Mr O’Connor may not have sustained the brain damage.
Evidence was also given that the ventilation tube had been inserted at the incorrect depth of 14cm; it should have been inserted to a depth between 9 and 10cm. This meant that Mr O’Connor did not receive adequate ventilation, causing the heart attack that inflicted further brain damage.

The HSE agreed to pay a €1.75million settlement to Mr O’Connor for the brain damage he sustained due to negligence at the hospital, though they did not concede liability. Judge Cross approved the settlement when he heard it was to pay for Mr O’Connor’s care.