By Ann O'Loughlin
The President of the High Court today 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.
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 in the case was without an admission of liability.
The judge said quite clearly Jamie Patterson's mother was 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 Jamies' 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 for every court date the child had to endure before hand examinations by medical experts on both sides.
Mr Justice Kelly said with the final lump sum payment the Pattersons could say farewell the Four Courts and he said particulary in these type of medical cases where it is bruising on both sides mediation should be used.
Teresa 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 exercise any or any proper care or adequate care for the safety and well being of Teresa 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.
Counsel Aongus O Brollachain SC had previously told the court that Ms Teresa Patterson had gone in to labour on November 3, 2002 and was checked in to the hospital before 10am.
Counsel said between the time of her check-in and and 3.30pm, Ms Patterson was treated with abolute competent care. Counsel said after that time Mrs Patterson was started on a Syntocinon drip which is used to start or help contractions during childbirth.
The drip was later increased. At 5.00pm Ms Patterson was noted to be feeling pressure and 45 mintues later it was noted there was over stimulation by the Syntocinon and it was reduced. Jamie was born just after 7pm and had to be resuscitated.
Counsel said Mrs Patterson, who had been a hairstylist prior to the birth of her son, had trained as a carer so she could help care for Jamie.
In a statement read to the court today on behalf of the Coombe Hospital, the Master Dr 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 acknoweldge the extraordinary efforts and steps that you have taken in dealing with this difficult situation," she added.