Saturday 23 February 2019

Parents of 12-year-old cerebral palsy girl awarded €2.6m from HSE

Kevin and Mary Conroy, parents of cerebral palsy victim Roisin, outside the High Court today where they were awarded a €2.6million settlement on behalf of their daughter. Caption: Courtpix.
Kevin and Mary Conroy, parents of cerebral palsy victim Roisin, outside the High Court today where they were awarded a €2.6million settlement on behalf of their daughter. Caption: Courtpix.

A 12-YEAR old girl who has cerebral palsy as a result of injuries caused at her birth has settled a High Court action for damages with an interim payment of €2.6m.

Roisin Conroy and her family also received an apology from the HSE and the consultant obstetrician who treated her.

The family solicitor said it points up the need for new laws to impose a duty of candour on medical professionals in such cases in order to reduce stress on families.

Roisin can only communicate with her eyes, has dyskinetic cerebral palsy and needs a wheelchair to get around, the court heard.

Through her mother Mary Conroy of Dysart, Portlaoise, Laois, she sued the HSE and a consultant obstetrician, John P Corristine  attached to the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, as a result of injuries sustained at the time of her birth on November 14, 2001.

The settlement, which allows for Roisin's family to come back to court in two years time when her future care needs will be decided, was with an admission of liability.

In the apology read to court yesterday, counsel for the defendants said they wished "to express their sincere apologies for the failings that caused injuries to Roisin Conroy and the consequential trauma experienced by Roisin and her family".

It added: "They understand that neither this apology nor the financial compensation granted by the court can negate the continuing heartache that the Conroy family must feel every day and appreciate that this continues to be a very difficult time for them.

The court had heard Rosin's mother was a private patient of  Mr Corristine. On November 10, 2001, Mrs Conroy had gone to the hospital when she thought her membranes had ruptured. She was reassured  and discharged home but three days later she attended Mr Corristine's clinic and following an ultrasound she insisted she be admitted to hospital.

Senior counsel Denis McCullough said a CTG trace was commenced after Mr Corristine examined Mrs Conroy  but there was no recording of contractions. After another examination Mrs Conroy was advised to take a bath, but there was no hot water in the hospital, counsel said.

It was claimed that Mr Corristine ordered medicine be administered and that Mrs Conroy  did not see the consultant again at the labour or the birth of her daughter.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told  Mr Corristine would say he had given over care of the patient to another consultant, but Mrs Conroy would argue this was done without her knowledge.

When Roisin was born she was in poor condition  and later had seizures and was transferred to a Dublin hospital.

Counsel said both parents had to give up their jobs to care for their daughter.

Roisin's father Kevin said his family  dreaded the court case but it had been well fought for Roisin.

Approving the settlement, Ms Justice Irvine said she hoped it would bring some normality to their lives.

Outside court Mr Conroy said he and his wife Mary were relieved.

"Our beautiful daughter Roisin can now get the specialist care and therapy she needs and deserves," he said.

The family were relieved the circumstances around Roisin's birth had been brought out in the open, even though it was 12 years later.

"While we put literally everything we have into the care for Roisin, we have not been able to provide the level of care and therapy that the experts say would, over the course of 12 years, have significantly improved her condition and abiltiies."

"Roisin needs 24 hour care, but she gives us back so much. It just tears our hearts to think what might have been for her", Mr Conroy said.

"This settlement won't change this but it will at least give us the comfort that Roisin will be properly cared for, even beyond our lifetimes," he added.

The family's solicitor Michael Boylan said the case was a classic illustration of why there should be a legal duty of candour for health care professionals.

It would prevent further years, and in this case a decade, of hardship and extra trauma that the family have suffered, in depriving Roisin the chance of rehabilitation that would have improved her condition, he said.

"So I really earnestly call upon the government to introduce a legal duty of candour to try and reduce the stress on families like this who suffer day in day out unnecessarily,"he said.

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