Monday 23 October 2017

Disabled girl (4) settles €1.3m damages case with HSE over injuries at birth

Tim Healy

A FOUR-year-old girl, who is severely disabled and has cerebral palsy, has settled her action for damages against the HSE for €1.3m over alleged negligence arising out of the circumstances of her birth.


Sarah McFeely, Cill Greine , Lismonaghan, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, had sued the HSE for negligence arising out of the treatment of her mother Bronagh Colhoun's pregnancy and the birth at Letterkenny General Hospital, Donegal, on September 28, 2008. Sarah was suing through her mother.

The High Court heard Ms Colhoun went in to labour on September 27, 2008 and went to Letterkenny where she was seen by a midwife and an examination was later carried out.

The drug syntocinon which is used to induce labour was commenced at 2.30pm  and at 4pm  the CTG showed a marked change in character  and it was claimed there was hyper stimulation.

A doctor advised the discontinuance of syntocinon. An epidural was requested and given at around 6pm and the syntocinon recommenced. It was claimed the epidural was not fully effective and the mother continued to be distressed by pain. It is further claimed that despite this the rate of syntocinon was further increased.

Sarah McFeely, of Letterkenny, Co Donegal, at the Four Courts with her parents, Bronagh and Ray.
Sarah McFeely, of Letterkenny, Co Donegal, at the Four Courts with her parents, Bronagh and Ray.

A vacuum delivery started at nearly ten minutes to midnight but Sarah was not born until 39 minutes later after it was claimed  different vacuum cups had to be reapplied.

After delivery, the baby had seizures. It is claimed there was excessive administration of syntocinon to the mother  and a failure to recognise the hyper stimulation.

The HSE had admitted liability in the case last year.

Outside court, solicitor Damien Tansey speaking for Sarah's parents, said they were  delighted and relieved that the case was over.

"They are disappointed obviously that it took the HSE two years to admit liability, and it should also be remembered that the parents themselves sought explanations for what had happened after the birth, and that was never forthcoming, " he said.

Sarah, he said, was first born child of this family.

"The parents have demonstrated enormous courage and enormous emotional stamina to get this far. There are a lot of pitfalls along the way, and the costs are just astronomical, and they deserve enormous credit for staying the course and having the courage to do what they have done," he said.

"They couldn’t have done it without the help that was forthcoming from the enlarged family and they are indebted to that., he added.

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