Boy, 13, settles action against doctor for €2.5m

A 13-year-old boy who is brain-damaged and confined to a wheelchair has settled for €2.5m in his High Court action for alleged medical negligence against a Galway GP.

It was claimed that Enda Brien’s mother Jenny was 37 weeks pregnant when she suddenly developed severe pain under her left ribs. She was diagnosed with lower back pain and given painkillers by her GP. But within 12 hours, her placenta had come away and by the time the baby was born, he was brain-damaged.

The settlement against Dr Patrick O’Brien, with a practice at Kiltormer, Co Galway, was without admission of liability.

Enda Brien, of Derrew, Killimor, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, had, through his mother Jenny Brien, sued Dr O’Brien. The High Court was told proceedings against the HSE had been earlier dismissed.

It was claimed Dr O’Brien failed to admit Mrs Brien to hospital on January 6, 2001 when she presented at his surgery with severe pain under her ribs.

It was further alleged Dr O’Brien provided a standard of care to Mrs Brien that was inadequate and or unreasonable in all of the prevailing circumstances.

Dr O’Brien denied the claims and contended he was entitled to diagnose back pain — and that lower back pain was common in the last trimester of pregnancy.

Senior counsel Bruce Antoniotti told the court that on January 6, 2001, Mrs Brien developed a sudden and excruciating pain on her left side under her ribs and went to her GP. He said Mrs Brien was crying out in pain and the doctor used a medical instrument to examine her and also put his hand on her abdomen and patted his hand.

“That was the extent of the examination or questions by the doctor,” counsel said, adding that the GP’s notes are sparse.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Michael White said he hoped the settlement will alleviate the very difficult situation Enda and his family have found themselves in.


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