Consultant apologises to girl over condition

A CONSULTANT obstetrician apologised to a girl who must use a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy as talks over a settlement continued before the High Court.

Catherine and Colm Sheehan, from Millbrook, Mallow, Co Cork, took the medical negligence case yesterday against Dr David Corr, who was conducting a private practice from Bon Secours Maternity Hospital, Cork, on behalf of Isabelle Sheehan, 6.

Counsel for Dr Corr, who admitted liability, read out an apology on behalf of the medic who said he “very much regrets the outcome in relation to the birth”.

Dr Corr said he had made a “mistake” in not referring Ms Sheehan to an expert in foetal medicine which had “disastrous consequences” for Isabelle and her family. Dr Corr said he wished to apologise to them.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill heard a partial settlement had been reached of €450,000 general damages, €450,000 for future loss of earnings, €120,000 for care given to Isabelle and €90,000 special damages.

Denis McCullough SC said both sides were willing to adjourn the action for two years in anticipation that legislation allowing regular payments rather than the present lump sum system would be brought in.

However, he said Isabelle required intensive physiotherapy, a special needs assistant at home to help her keep up with her class, payment for additional care work at home and speech and language therapy. The court heard the amounts required were for the next two years, were in dispute and evidence is due to continue before the High Court in relation to this today.

Isabelle suffers from spastic quadriparetic cerebral palsy, with both her arms and legs affected. The court heard she is “bright and intelligent”, but that brain damage affected her speech and she often only utters one-word sentences. Counsel said she would be in care for life.

She was born at the Bon Secours on November 29, 2004.

A blood test on Ms Sheehan in October 2004 had shown a rise in antibodies and the consultant was informed. Dr Corr was also informed of her husband’s blood type, which, the court heard, the antibodies in the mother’s blood were “programmed to attack”.

Counsel for the Sheehans said the consultant should have referred her to an expert in foetal medicine.

Isabelle’s mother, Catherine, told the court she and her husband sought a second opinion after Isabelle was born. The doctor concerned told them it was one of the worst MRIs he had seen.

Counsel for the Sheehans argues that Isabelle will require two carers while the defence counsel says one should suffice.

The hearing continues.

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