Baby Faith Lanphier collapsed and died after a catheter put in to give her nutrition was placed at an incorrect low level.
In an apology read to the High Court, Cork University Hospital chief executive Tony McNamara said: “The Health Service Executive wishes to acknowledge its responsibility in the death of baby Faith Lanphier on May 24, 2012, at Cork University Maternity Hospital and expresses its sincere regret and apology to Faith’s parents and her wider family.”
Faith was born premature and in good condition on May 19, 2012, but died at the hospital five days later, the High Court heard.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was a “sad, tragic, and unnecessary death”, and, approving the settlement of the action of Faith’s parents against the HSE, he extended his deepest sympathy.
Anthony Lanphier and Linda Kelly, of Abbey Court, Holycross, Thurles, Co Tipperary, had sued the HSE for nervous shock and over the death of Faith three years ago.
It was claimed that the catheter tip was positioned within Faith’s liver and this caused the rupture of the baby’s liver and the collapse of the baby five days after her birth.
It was also claimed there was a failure to position the catheter correctly within a vein and that the baby had gone into hypovolemia shock and died.
Senior Counsel Jeremy Maher said the apology was the single most important aspect of the case.
The death of Faith, he said, had devastated her family. Faith was born at 28 weeks on May 19, 2012, and was in good condition, he said. A catheter was placed at a suboptimal low position which gave rise to difficulties in her liver and to total collapse, which counsel said could have been prevented.
The action for nervous shock by Faith’s parents had been settled under undisclosed terms, Mr Maher said. A settlement of €35,000 had been agreed in relation to the death of Faith, who had five brothers including twins born just a month ago.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross noted the apology and that the aspect of the case was the greatest comfort to Faith’s parents and family.
Offering his deepest sympathy, Mr Justice Cross wished the family well for the future.
Outside court, Mr Lanphier said the apology does not really change anything but it was comforting.
Ms Kelly said they had to bring the action for their daughter.
“Thank God I got to hold her anyway, on the second and third day after she was born. That kind of helps,” she said.
Solicitor Cian O’Carroll said the difficulty with the apology is that it came at the end of three years.
The parents, he said, had to go through the death of a five-day-old beloved baby, know that something went wrong, look for answers, be met with denial after denial, through an inquest, and then a complex litigation process.
“At the end of that three-year process, you get not only an admission of liability, but then a written apology. Something is lacking in the way these cases are being dealt with, and it’s happening week after week here at the Four Courts.” he added.