Sunday 24 September 2017

State agencies treated us in an appalling way, say €8.5m birth case family

Mum Jean Gaffney and dad Thomas Hayes with son Dylan and daughter Shauna outside court.
Mum Jean Gaffney and dad Thomas Hayes with son Dylan and daughter Shauna outside court.

Tim Healy and  Fiona Dillon

A couple have told of their distress at being made to battle for years for an €8.5m settlement handed down by the High Court for their son who has cerebral palsy.

Jean Gaffney and Thomas Hayes said that their fight for the funds also resulted in "considerable legal expense".

After an 11-day hearing to assess damages, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement for Dylan Gaffney Hayes (6), of Kilcohan Park, Waterford, who suffered serious injuries and cerebral palsy arising from admitted negligence in his birth in July 2007.

The judge described as "highly regrettable" the HSE's five-year delay in admitting liability for the injuries suffered due to negligence in the child's birth at Waterford Regional Hospital.

After the ruling, Dylan's parents were very critical of how the case was handled by the HSE and State Claims Agency (SCA).

"We have been dealt with in an appalling way firstly, by the HSE and, latterly, by the SCA," they said.

DEFENCE

They said their solicitors wrote to the SCA in June 2009, setting out the results of independent medical reports related to Dylan's injuries which concluded they arose due to mismanagement of his mother's labour.

To their "horror and surprise", the SCA later put in a defence of "denying everything", they said.

And they could not understand why it took three years and a 11-day hearing to reach this settlement.

The parents also said they lived in a very confined house but the SCA refused to make "a modest payment" on account so they could buy a house which had been identified as suitable for Dylan.

The SCA "dragged us out to the last," they said.

The couple added in their statement: "It is great that we can now set about buying a suitable house for Dylan and avail of all the therapies he so desperately needs to improve the quality of his life."

But they said they hoped no other family had to go through what they went through.

In the High Court case, Dylan's parents claimed that their son's injuries would have been avoided had medical staff not "dismissed out of hand" their request for a Caesarean section, arising from his mother having had a previous difficult birth and a miscarriage, and if the labour had been appropriately managed.

Just days after the birth, the obstetrician involved had told them there would be "no cover-up".

However, Ms Gaffney and Mr Hayes claimed the HSE and SCA played "games" for years until liability was admitted last year.

Ms Gaffney had asked for a Caesarean section because her first child, Shauna, was born by emergency section for foetal distress after 51 hours labour, while her second pregnancy ended in miscarriage after 12 weeks' gestation.

RUPTURED

Ms Gaffney went to Waterford Regional Hospital on July 20, 2007, as she thought her membranes had ruptured and was given an antenatal appointment for July 25.

She went into spontaneous labour on July 22 and was re-admitted to hospital in the early hours when oxytocin was administered.

It was claimed the administration of oxytocin and advice to commence pushing at 2pm was entirely unacceptable and inappropriate and a C-section should have been carried out.

When Dylan was born at 2.39pm after an emergency Caesarean, he was floppy, it was claimed.

The judge said yesterday she rarely made remarks about how a defendant conducted their defence of a case.

But the judge said this was the second case before her this week where the HSE delayed in admitting liability, causing additional stress and fear for the children and families involved.

Irish Independent

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