Sunday 22 October 2017

Disabled girl (4) gets €1.3m for injuries at birth

Epidural was not fully effective, court told

Tim Healy

A FOUR-YEAR-OLD girl, who is severely disabled and has cerebral palsy, has settled her High Court action for damages against the HSE with an interim payment of €1.3m.

Sarah McFeely sued for negligence arising out the treatment of her mother's pregnancy and her birth at Letterkenny General Hospital, Donegal, on September 28, 2008.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan was told yesterday the settlement involved an initial payment of €1.3m. The case will come back before the court in three years' time to assess Sarah's future care needs.

Sarah had sued the HSE through her mother, Bronagh Colhoun, of Cill Greine, Lismonaghan, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, for negligence.

It is claimed that Ms Colhoun went into labour on September 27, 2008, and arrived at Letterkenny General, where she was seen by a midwife and an examination was later carried out.

The drug syntocinon, which is used to induce labour, was administered at 2.30pm and at 4pm a CTG scan of the baby showed a marked change in character, and it was claimed there was hyperstimulation.

BRONAGH COLHOUN WITH HER DAUGHTER, SARAH McFEELY, (4 YRS.) AND DAD, RAY McFEELY
BRONAGH COLHOUN WITH HER DAUGHTER, SARAH McFEELY, (4 YRS.) AND DAD, RAY McFEELY

A doctor advised the discontinuance of syntocinon. An epidural was requested and given at around 6pm and the administration of syntocinon recommenced. It was claimed the epidural was not fully effective and the mother continued to be distressed by pain. It was further claimed that despite this, the rate of syntocinon was further increased.

A vacuum delivery started at nearly 10 minutes to midnight but Sarah was not born until 39 minutes later after, it was claimed, different vacuum cups had to be reapplied.

SEIZURES

After delivery, the baby was flat at birth and later had seizures. It was claimed there was excessive administration of syntocinon and a failure to recognise the hyperstimulation.

It was further claimed there was a failure to deliver the baby at the earliest possible opportunity and to deliver Sarah by caesarean section.

The HSE conceded liability by letter last year.

The court heard Sarah has dyskinetic cerebral palsy, which affects all her body, and and she has no movement on her right side.

Ms Colhoun, a qualified nurse, has cared for her daughter ever since.

Outside court, solicitor Damien Tansey, for Sarah's parents, said they were delighted and relieved the case was over.

Mr Tansey said it should also be remembered that the parents themselves sought explanations for what had happened after the birth, and that was never forthcoming.

Mr Tansey added that Sarah is a very bright, lively child and her parents will now be able to buy all sorts of additional aids for her.

Irish Independent

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