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Disabled girl sues doctor and psychiatrist for negligence

A GIRL suffered serious injuries at birth due to negligence by a psychiatrist and a consultant obstetrician who treated her mother during her pregnancy, it was claimed at the High Court yesterday.

It is alleged that when the mother learned her unborn child was disabled, psychiatrist Professor Patricia Casey initially advised that the woman's options included going to England for a termination.

However, it is claimed that she later told the expectant mother it would bother the woman for the rest of her life if she did so.

Both defendants deny the allegations against them.

It is alleged Rebecca McGillin, now aged eight, was exposed to a risk of injury as a result of the failure of Prof Casey and consultant obstetrician Dr Mary Holohan to properly assess the nature and type of prescription drugs being taken before and after pregnancy by her mother Lisa Glynn McGillin.

Prof Casey had allegedly diagnosed Ms McGillin some years earlier as having mild bi-polar disorder.

It is claimed there was a failure to give proper advice about the effects of drugs, including the drug Epilim which is primarily used to treat epilepsy but is also effective in treating depression.

It is also claimed that Prof Casey, who had treated Ms McGillin since 1994, and Dr Holohan failed to ensure their patient was counselled properly in relation to her pregnancy in 2000 and failed to properly communicate with each other about the management of the pregnancy.

It is alleged both defendants, following the diagnosis of pregnancy, failed to stop the "high dosage" of drugs being taken by Ms McGillin and failed to properly monitor her and to assess the medication best suited to her needs.

Rebecca was born on April 10 2001, when she allegedly suffered cognitive and motor injuries.

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It is also claimed that an ultrasound scan performed on the child's mother at 12 weeks, on January 11 2001, revealed a flexion deformity and asymmetric growth retardation.

A repeat scan on January 22 confirming those findings.


Following the January 11 scan, it is claimed, Ms McGillin contacted Prof Casey saying she would not be able to cope with a handicapped baby.

It is alleged Prof Casey advised Ms McGillin that she could terminate the pregnancy in England.

It is further claimed Prof Casey advised Ms McGillin three days later that Ms McGillin would be too distressed to follow through with a termination and it would bother the mother-to-be for the rest of her life if she did so.

The proceedings by Rebecca McGillin, suing through her father Barry McGillin, of Gainsborough Avenue, Malahide, Co Dublin, opened yesterday before Mr Justice John Quirke.

The case is against Prof Casey, practising from the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Dublin; and against Dr Holohan, practising from the private clinic at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin.

Prof Casey says she does not accept Ms McGillin had accurately or fully set out her medical history and, in particular, the ante-natal history of Rebecca.

She denies Ms McGillin informed her in July 2000 she was pregnant or that she instructed the patient at that time to stop taking Lithium and to continue taking other medication, Prothiaden and Epilim.

Prof Casey also denies Rebecca suffered the alleged injuries and claims that if she did so, it was not due to any negligence on her part but was caused solely or contributed to by the negligence of the child's mother.


She alleges Ms McGillin failed to attend appointments on October 16 2000 and November 22 2000, and failed to have any regard for her own safety and that of her unborn child.

Without prejudice, Prof Casey also says she did provide certain care, treatment and advice to Ms McGillin and did so at all times with due professional skill, care and diligence.

Dr Holohan also denies the claims against her, pleads she is a stranger to the alleged psychiatric symptoms and treatment of Ms McGillin, and denies that she advised Ms McGillin that taking folic acid would eliminate any risks attached to the use of Epilim during pregnancy.

The hearing continues.

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