Mother who sued over care at Kerry General Hospital faces massive legal bill

A mother who sued over her care at Kerry General Hospital when she was having her second baby is now facing a massive legal bill after a High Court judge yesterday dismissed her case.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan said Ciara Hamilton, of Brackhill, Castlemaine, Co Kerry, had not made out a case against the HSE.

Awarding the costs of the week-long action to the HSE, the judge put a stay on the order for three months, or in the event that the woman decides to appeal the decision.

Dismissing the case, Mr Justice Ryan said the midwife at Kerry General Hospital and the hospital responded in a competent manner to the situation which arose when Ms Hamilton was having her second baby.

Ms Hamilton had claimed her waters were allegedly, unnecessarily artificially broken by a midwife in Kerry General Hospital, which led to a situation where she had to have an emergency caesarean.

It was claimed that an emergency situation arose — a cord prolapse — and Ms Hamilton had to be rushed to an operating theatre.

Ms Hamilton, aged 30, had sued the HSE over her care at Kerry General Hospital, Tralee, when she was having her second baby in 2011.

It was claimed that as a consequence of the caesarean section Ciara Hamilton suffered personal injuries, loss and damage. It is further claimed there was an alleged, inappropriate interference in the progress of Ms Hamilton’s labour by the performance of the artificial rupture of the membranes and allegedly causing the complication of cord prolapse to occur.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan was told at the opening of the case the issue to be decided was whether there was any justification to carry out the artificial rupture of the membranes.

Ms Hamilton’s baby boy was born safe and well by caesarean section on June 11, 2011.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Ryan found that it was reasonable for the midwife involved to seek reassurance with an artificial rupture of the membranes. The midwife was the person entitled, authorised and qualified to make the decision, the judge said.

When the midwife broke the waters, the judge said she immediately appreciated the cord had prolapsed and responded appropriately by raising the alarm while protecting the baby from injury.

The judge said the emergency procedure prescribed for such a crisis went into operation and Ms Hamilton was brought to the theatre where her baby was delivered in good condition.

“In the circumstances, I do not consider that the midwife was negligent.”

He said he accepted the evidence of the midwife supported by two expert witnesses that the treatment provided by the midwife was not deserving of criticism or condemnation and that the prolapse of the cord was a rare but known complication of the procedure.

“The midwife responded in a competent manner, as did the hospital,” Mr Justice Ryan ruled.

He added that the management of Ms Hamilton accorded with a practice supported by a responsible body of expert opinion.

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