Tuesday 21 November 2017

'Baby's mother had thought she was responsible because she had smoked' - family get apology over death in Portlaoise Hospital

Aidan and Elsie Franks leaving the High Court. Photo: Courtpix
Aidan and Elsie Franks leaving the High Court. Photo: Courtpix

Tim Healy

A hospital has apologised in the High Court to a couple whose baby son died there nine years ago.

Dylan Franks died in the operating theatre in the Midlands Regional, Portlaoise, not long after his birth on March 6, 2007.

His parents, Aidan and Elsie Franks, of Scart, Roscrea, Co Tipperary, settled their action against the HSE over the  death of their baby and also for nervous shock.

The terms of the settlement are confidential. Liability was admitted in April 2014.

The court heard a huge distress for the parents was the the fact that, at his inquest, HSE witnesses stated the cause of his death was chronic utero placental insufficiency.

As a result, Dylan's mother thought she was responsible because she had smoked during her pregnancy.

In the apology to court, the hospital said it was aware of the Franks' experience with them in relation to the death of their beloved son.

"We wish to express our sincere apologies for the failings which caused Dylan's death," the apology stated.

"The hospital accepts responsibility for these failings which should not have happened".

It also "sincerely regrets the tragic consequences its failings have caused to you both and your family."

Oonagh McCrann SC, for the family, told Mr Justice Kevin Cross a number of opportunities were missed to deliver the baby.  He should have been delivered earlier and members of the staff had indicated he was going to be delivered.

Counsel said it was only after the Prime Time programme on baby deaths at the Portlaoise hospital that the Franks began to ask questions. They sought legal advice and commenced proceedings in February 2014.

The Franks had claimed there was a failure to follow through with the plan arrived at for the delivery of Dylan on February 10, 2007, and a failure to have regard to the clear evidence that Dylan was small.

The pregnancy, it was claimed, had been allowed to continue until after term and there was a failure to deliver Dylan prior to March 4.

There was also an alleged failure to recognise foetal distress and and an alleged failure to give a full and accurate account to Dylan's

parents of what had happened.

It was further claimed there was a negligent concealing of the true facts and that Mrs Franks had negligently been allowed for seven years to feel that the reason for her baby's death was placental insufficiency caused because of her smoking during pregnancy.

It was further claimed that in an oppressive and unreasonable and overbearing manner the HSE's case had been represented at all times as being one where this was an unavoidable death due to placental insufficiency.

The Franks, it was claimed, had no reason to doubt the evidence given at the inquest by HSE witnesses.

It was not until they were contacted by the HSE in February 2014, that the true circumstances of the birth were made known to them.

The Franks, both carers for those with special needs  were devastated by the death of Dylan, their first born, and were constantly worried when Mrs Franks had two more children.

Mr Justice Cross sympathised with the Franks and hoped the settlement would give them some sort of closure.

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