Tuesday 17 July 2018

Damages for girl over birth injuries increased to €3.8m

Kerry General Hospital
Kerry General Hospital

Aodhan O'Faolain

A young girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at Kerry General Hospital has secured a further interim payment under a settlement of her action against the HSE, increasing to more than €3.8m her total damages to date.

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, paid warm tribute to Skye Worthington's mother Colleen for her "admirable" care for her daughter, including moving from Kerry to Rochestown, Cork to be close to the Enable Ireland school the child attends.

It had proved very difficult to access the necessary services for Skye, now aged six, in Kerry, the court heard.

The judge expressed hope, when the family return to court for further assessment of Skye's care needs in three years time, it will be their last such visit.

By then, he hoped, the necessary legislation to ensure the lifelong care needs of catastrophically injured people are met will finally have been commenced.

More than six years after the legislation was recommended, it was passed into law last November but has still to be commenced by the Minister for Health, he noted. He hoped that would be done soon to avoid people like Skye and her mother undergoing the "battery" of tests and assessments of care needs required every time their cases return to court.

He made the comments on Thursday when approving an application by Bruce Antoiotti SC, for Skye, for a further interim payment of approximately €1.35m to meet the child's care needs to February 2021.

The court heard the child previously in 2015 secured an interim payment of some €2.5m, including for accommodation costs. While a proposed accommodation had fallen through, Ms Worthington is hopeful of securing other appropriate accommodation, counsel said.

The judge said he had no hesitation approving the latest interim payment offer as a very good one which would meet about 100 per cent of the costs of ensuring Skye is cared for in the manner "to which she is entitled", including for aids and appliances and various therapies.

He praised Ms Worthington for all she has done for her daughter, adding, while the child's parents had unfortunately separated since the case was last in court, he was glad Skye's father Kevin remains involved in looking after her.

Skye has dystonic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, epilepsy, is mostly peg fed, cannot speak but can communicate via eye and other gestures, the court heard.

On being told she sometimes picks her own clothes, the judge commented Skye appears to be "something of a fashionista".

When the case settled in 2015, Kerry General Hospital, Tralee, apologised unreservedly before the court to Skye, who, through her mother, sued the HSE over injuries sustained during her delivery in April 2011.

Among a range of claims, it was alleged there was mismanagement of labour and the labour accelerant drug syntocinon should have been stopped when a deceleration in the baby's heartbeat was noted.

Had she been delivered 15 minutes earlier, she would have been spared acute hypoxia, the court was told.

The baby was delivered by emergency cesarean on April 22nd 2011 but was flat and was transferred to Cork University Hospital where she received excellent care, it was stated.

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