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€1.5m for boy after rare pregnancy complication allegedly not diagnosed at mum’s ultrasound


Maria Meehan, mother of Ricci, leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts

Maria Meehan, mother of Ricci, leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts

Maria Meehan, mother of Ricci, leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts

A nine-year old boy who sued claiming a rare pregnancy complication was allegedly not diagnosed when his mother had an ultrasound scan in hospital has settled a High Court action with a €1.5m interim payout.

Ricci Meehan’s mother, speaking in court, appealed to hospitals and maternity units to now routinely screen at the 20- week scan for Vasa praevia.

This is a rare complication during pregnancy where some of the blood vessels that connect the umbilical cord lie over or near the entrance to the birth canal.

The settlement against the Rotunda Hospital is without an admission of liability.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told that the interim payment which is for the next five years represents half of the claim and when the case comes back before the court in 2027, it will be assessed on a 50pc basis.

The Rotunda, in denying all claims, had contended that screening for Vasa praevia was neither indicated nor recommended nor in accordance with best practice and appropriate guidelines at the time which were to the effect that routine screening should not be performed.

Maria Meehan told the judge she hoped her son’s case will bring changes in maternity hospitals and that the screening for Vasa praevia would take place at the 20-week scan.

"Please screen now for Vasa praevia as part of the 20-week scan,” she said.

She said her son, who is neurologically impaired, had to be resuscitated.

The judge thanked Ms Meehan for her very powerful statement and said it could be of great value to countless other children.

Ricci, from north Dublin, through his mother, sued the Rotunda Hospital, Parnell Square, Dublin, over the care provided to his mother when she was pregnant.

It was claimed there was an a failure to diagnose Vasa praevia at any time during the performance of the four ultrasound examinations carried out during the pregnancy.

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It was further claimed there was an a failure to carry out any proper tests to allegedly properly diagnose the condition such that an adequate treatment plan could be initiated.

It was further claimed there was a failure to properly treat the baby or his mother.

The Rotunda denied all the claims and further denied that it was negligent or in breach of duty not to diagnose the condition of the baby in utero as alleged.

The Meehan family counsel, Aongus O’Brolchain SC, instructed by Michael Boylan solicitors, told the court that in the US and Australia it is mandated to look for Vasa praevia when carrying out the scan at 20 weeks when sonographers look for certain defects or any anomaly, but it has not been the case here.

"Sonographers don’t look for this, it’s shocking they don’t,” counsel said. He said it takes “20 seconds to one minute to find this abnormality”.

Counsel said at issue in the case was a foetal anatomy ultrasound scan carried out at 21 weeks and three days gestation in March 2012.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Coffey conveyed his best wishes to Ricci and his family.

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