A woman who alleged she suffered a brain injury at birth in a Limerick hospital has settled her High Court action for €20.5m.
The woman, who cannot be identified by order of the court, is cognitively impaired and has other deficits and weakness down one side.
Her counsel, Dr John O’Mahony SC with Cian O’Mahony BL, told the court it was a very serious case and it was their contention that valuable time had been lost before the baby was delivered by emergency Caesarean section.
He said the woman would never be able to have a job and requires ongoing care.
The settlement against the HSE, counsel said, represents two thirds of the full value of the case.
The HSE admitted a breach of duty in the management of the labour of the girl’s mother and the delivery of the baby in the 1990s at what was then St Munchin’s Regional Maternity Hospital, Limerick, but it denied the admitted breach of duty caused the entirety of the baby’s alleged personal injuries.
Causation, counsel said, remained a major issue in the case.
The woman had through her mother sued the HSE over the management of her birth in the 1990s at what was then St Munchin’s Regional Maternity Hospital, Limerick.
It was claimed there was an alleged failure to carry out immediate prompt delivery of the baby by Caesarean section when a cord prolapse, where the umbilical cord slips down in front of the baby, occurred.
A delay, it was claimed, was allegedly allowed to occur and there was an alleged failure to take immediate steps to protect against pressure on or compression of the cord when the cord prolapse occurred prior to delivery by Caesarean section.
There was, it was claimed, an alleged failure to take appropriate steps to protect the cord and the baby allegedly suffered asphyxia.
There was, it was further claimed, an alleged failure to manage the labour and delivery appropriately in all the circumstances.
Dr O’Mahony told the court a vacuum-assisted delivery was attempted but was unsuccessful. He said it was their case that this was a high-risk procedure to attempt at that time and valuable time was lost.
The baby was then delivered by emergency Caesarean section. When she was born, the baby girl was in very poor condition and her only sign of life was a slow heartbeat.
She was ventilated and intubated and was kept in the hospital special care unit for 10 days.
Counsel said she failed to reach her developmental milestones in sitting, standing and walking, and also suffered seizures.
Dr O’Mahony praised the young woman’s parents, who he said had given her the best possible care and attention.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said he was satisfied there was a litigation risk in the case around causation. He said he was delighted there had been a resolution to the family’s satisfaction and he commended her parents for their care of their daughter.