Parents win son €2.2m pay-out for negligence at birth

A nine-year old boy with a form of cerebral palsy has secured a €2.2m payment, plus costs, under a settlement of his High Court action over negligence in the circumstances of his birth at Waterford Regional Hospital.

The issue of further payments to meet the future care needs of Adam Aylward will be addressed later, in anticipation of the enactment of promised legislation allowing for staged payments in catastrophic injury cases.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved as “excellent” the settlement for Adam who, through his mother Deirdre, of Knocktopher, Co Kilkenny, sued the HSE, alleging negligence in the circumstances of his birth on Dec 5, 2003.

Adam was born by emergency Caesarean section when his mother was 28 weeks’ pregnant and, among various claims, it was alleged the decision to perform the emergency Caesarean was negligent.

It was also alleged the sodium level of the child’s blood had dropped unnoticed, endangering the development of brain cells.

Last month, Mr Justice Kevin Cross found a doctor’s diagnosis of abruption, which led to the decision to perform the Caesarean procedure, was, on the balance of probabilities, wrong.

While doctors were “not to be taken as insurers” or “perfect” and he believed “honest mistakes will and must be made on diagnosis” and the symptoms of each condition “can often be very similar”, he accepted Ms Aylward’s evidence that the nature of the pain she suffered on Dec 5 was very similar to period pain and her examination by the doctor was “a very short one”.

The decision to proceed to deliver by emergency Caesarean in a non-emergency situation was negligent, he ruled.

The HSE had indicated it intended to appeal but yesterday Liam Reidy SC said the matter had settled and he asked the judge to approve the settlement.

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