Delay in reforming injury law ‘shameful’

The president of the High Court yesterday said it was “really shameful” legislation has not yet been introduced for a system of periodic payments for the catastrophically injured who settle their medical negligence actions.

Delay in reforming injury law ‘shameful’

Mr Justice Peter Kelly made his comments as he approved a final €8m lump sum payment for a 13-year old boy, Jamie Patterson who had sued the Coombe Hospital over the circumstances of his birth.

Jamie Patterson has cerebral palsy with spastic quadriplegia, is not able to talk, and can only communicate through facial expressions and body language. This final lump sum payment brings to €9.8m the total paid out to the boy. The settlement was without an admission of liability.

The judge said Jamie Patterson’s mother was clearly tired and worn out and this was the third case in three weeks where the parents of catastrophically injured children have asked for a final lump sum payment to end the litigation.

The judge’s remarks came after Jamie’s mother, Teresa Patterson, told the court she wanted to leave the court and not look back.

“I feel I am so tired. Jamie is tired of all this; he just wants to play,” she said, explaining that, before every court date, the child had to endure examinations by medical experts on both sides.

Mr Justice Kelly said with the final lump sum payment the Pattersons could say farewell to the Four Courts and he said particularly in these type of medical cases where it is bruising on both sides mediation should be used.

Ms Patterson told the court her son is a beautiful boy who has an amazing outlook on life, even though he faces many challenges every day of his life.

“We had no choice but to go through a huge legal battle to try and get the best quality of life possible for Jamie,” she said.

“Jamie has gone through so much in his 13 years, medical procedures, pain, constant appointments and he still has a big smile on his face. I want to leave court today and not look back. We need to move forward for Jamie. Tomorrow we start a new chapter.”

She said the family now wanted to “leave the difficulties and stress of litigation behind.”

Jamie, of Mountdown Park, Terenure, Dublin had sued through his mother Teresa, the Coombe Hospital for alleged negligence at the time of his birth in November 2002.

It was claimed the hospital failed to exerciseany proper care or adequate care for the safety and wellbeing of Ms Patterson and her son and, having decided to augment the labour with Syntocinon, failed to have any regard or any adequate regard it could cause or aggravate fetal distress without careful and proper monitoring. The claims were denied by the hospital.

In a statement read to the court yesterday on behalf of the Combe Hospital, the Master, Sharon Sheehan, conveyed the hospital’s deepest sympathy to Jamie and his family for the “considerable adversity that you have endured” arising from the circumstances of the birth.

“I wish to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts and steps that you have taken in dealing with this difficult situation,” she added.

Editorial: 12

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