Thursday 29 September 2016

Mother loses damages claim against hospital over birth injury to baby

Saurya Cherfi & Ray Managh

Published 24/09/2015 | 14:32

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda

A four-year-old girl, whose mother sued in the High Court the HSE for injury to the baby during delivery at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Co Louth, lost her claim for damages today.

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Mr Justice Michael White said Lisa Everard (34) claimed that excessive traction was applied to her daughter Sophie’s head when shoulder dystocia had allegedly been diagnosed, leaving her with weakness in her left elbow and shoulder.  The claims of negligence had been denied by the HSE.

Judge White said in a reserved judgment that shoulder dystocia is defined as a delivery that requires additional obstetrics manoeuvres to release the shoulders after gentle downward traction has failed.

He said the HSE denied that there had been a shoulder dystocia emergency as alleged by Ms Everard but precautions had been made because Sophie’s head had been tight around her mother’s perineum.

The HSE had also denied that the traction imposed on Sophie’s head had caused her any injury to her arm and shoulder.

Ms Everard had alleged there had been a failure on part of the hospital staff to maintain a calm and collective approach to the delivery of the baby.  

She had claimed that the delivery had been complete two minutes after delivery of Sophie’s head and that this implied a degree of panic and excessive traction on the baby’s head and neck.

Medical evidence had alleged that the doctor who delivered the baby had acted in a “muddled” manner and had panicked and employed an inappropriately strong force to achieve an unnecessarily rapid delivery.

Judge White, dismissing Ms Everard’s claim and adjourning the matter of legal costs to a date in October, said the doctor was a very experienced practitioner and the HSE had established without doubt that there were other possible causes to Sophie’s injury.

“In fact the more likely cause was injury to Sophie’s left arm and shoulder when it was posterior in the womb,” the judge said.

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