Girl brain-damaged at five weeks old sues HSE

A 13-year-old girl who was brain damaged at five weeks old after she was assaulted by her mother has launched a High Court action for damages against the HSE.

It is alleged the child was discharged into the care of her mother — a former heroin addict on methadone — when no case conference had been convened and no care plan was in place.

Three days later, the baby was brought back to the hospital by her mother, having sustained serious injuries, Mr Justice Barr was told in the High Court.

The girl, who cannot be identified by order of the court, sustained a severe brain injury and now has cerebral palsy, a learning disability, permanent visual impairment in one eye, and is likely to require long-term assistance or supervision in day-to-day activities.

Senior counsel Aongus O’Brolchain told the court the child’s birth mother and father have died and the child, who has been in foster care, is to be adopted.

The girl was born in May 2001 to a woman on a methadone programme, as she was previously a heroin addict. It was claimed that, as a consequence of her heroin dependency, the child’s mother was volatile, psychologically disordered, and under stress.

The girl was born with a postnatal drug withdrawal syndrome and had to go on a detox programme and was not fit for hospital discharge until June 26, 2001.

The HSE denies all claims and says an appropriate home visit took place within 24 hours of the discharge.


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