Wednesday 21 February 2018

€140k for mum who had swab left inside her after birth

Claire Lalor was awarded €140,000 damages for trauma suffered.
Claire Lalor was awarded €140,000 damages for trauma suffered.

Tim Healy

A woman was awarded almost €140,000 in High Court damages after a vaginal swab was left inside her following the birth of her first baby.

The swab remained undetected in Claire Lalor's body for almost three weeks, despite two visits by her to the National Maternity Hospital (NMH), Holles Street, Dublin. It was like a "mini-football", it was claimed.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross found the trauma suffered by Ms Lalor, a 30-year-old hairdresser, of Swords, Co Dublin, was "extreme".

Days after the swab was detected, Ms Lalor was diagnosed with C.dificile, a "significant infection", as a result of unnecessary antibiotic treatment she had been earlier put on at the NMH before the swab was diagnosed, he noted.

Outside court, Ms Lalor said: "I couldn't be happier." She said she could now get on with her life after "all the pain and suffering" she and her family had gone through. "It made me feel helpless, these people telling me there was nothing wrong with me, when I knew there was something wrong. It was awful, absolutely awful," she added.

The NMH had accepted liability for insertion of the swab and failure to detect it during two visits to the hospital. The case was to assess damages.


Ms Lalor's baby was delivered following a difficult birth at the NMH on December 24, 2012. She was discharged on December 27 but went back to the hospital twice, on January 2 and January 9, over concerns about pain and a smell from her lower body. She was not examined internally on either occasion, but was given antibiotics.

When she attended a third time on January 16, 2013, Ms Lalor described the smell as "disgusting" and "horrible." She was examined internally and the swab was found. Mr Justice Cross said Ms Lalor was "entirely appropriately extremely distressed" by this.

Two days later she was extremely ill and returned to the NMH, where she was advised by a doctor she was suffering from post-natal depression.

She was "very angry" at this because, whatever about her psychological symptoms, she clearly also had severe physical pain and distress.

She was admitted to the hospital but when she went home, continued to suffer sweating, chills, fever and diarrhoea and was unable to hold food down.

Ms Lalor was diagnosed with C.dificile. The judge said Ms Lalor was entitled to be compensated for the physical injuries she suffered.

He also accepted while she was at high risk of post natal depression, he ruled what she suffered, and continues to suffer, was not post natal depression but a depression or adjustment disorder caused by events.

Irish Independent

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