'Our beautiful, brave warrior' - Girl (3) brain damaged at birth receives HSE apology and €2.5m interim payout
The HSE and Kerry General Hospital have apologised unreservedly to a three-year-old girl who was brain damaged during her birth.
Skye Worthington settled her High Court action over the circumstances of her birth with an interim payout of €2.52million to cover the next three years today.
Skye, through her mother Colleen Worthington, Cloghane, Castlegregory, Co Kerry, sued the HSE as a result of injuries sustained during her delivery at Kerry General, Tralee, in April 2011.
The court was told that liability had been admitted in the case.
Skye has cerebral palsy, can only sit for a while, has to be fed through a tube and can only communicate with her eyes, the court heard.
If she had been delivered fifteen minutes earlier, she would not have been injured.
Bruce Antoniotti SC, for Skye, read an apology to the court from the general manager of Kerry General Hospital, TJ O'Connor.
It stated the HSE South/South West Hospital Group and the Kerry General maternity department "wish to apologise unreservedly to you and your family for the birth injury caused to your daughter Skye at the time of her delivery.
"Whilst it was not intentional and it cannot be undone, we have learned lessons from the management of Skye's birth by having a formal review of which you were part."
This had "helped clarify a number of important issues," the statement said.
Mr O'Connor said he did not "underestimate how traumatic this has been for you and your family but I can assure you that lessons have been learned and acted upon with the ultimate aim of ensuring the safety of our patients at all times.
"On behalf of the HSE, we are truly sorry for what occurred."
Approving the €2.52 settlement , Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was an apology which was "out of the ordinary" and not "just a formation of words".
It was a very good settlement and he hoped Skye will now get all the equipment and help she needs.
When the case comes back to court in three years time, the Worthingtons can then decide whether to go for a lump sum final payment, or if legislation is in place, for annual periodic payments in relation to Skye's future care needs, he said.
The court heard Mrs Worthington had been admitted to Kerry General on April 21, 2011.
The baby was healthy and a cardiotocography (CTG) trace was reassuring.
After 4am on April 22, a drain of meconium was noticed and syntocinon, a drug used to speed up labour, was administered after 10am.
At 10.58am. Mrs Worthington's contractions were very strong and there was a prolonged deceleration noted in the baby's heartbeat.
The "cardinal error", counsel for the Worthingtons said, was that the deceleration in the heartbeat caused by the contractions was ignored.
At this stage syntocinon should have been stopped.
However, syntocinon was increased at noon.
Counsel said his side were very critical of the steps taken and the baby could have been delivered and spared 25 minutes of acute hypoxia and escaped injury.
Skye was delivered by emergency caesarean but had to be transferred to Cork University Hospital where she received excellent care, counsel said.
Outside court, Colleen Worthington and her husband Kevin said Skye, their only child, has to "fight for her place on this earth, sometimes fighting for every breath", but she is feisty and determined and they are very proud of her.
"She's a beautiful, brave warrior.
"We don't know what route Skye's life will take, but this settlement will help pave that route, and give her the tools she needs to thrive.
"If we could return this settlement and magically enable Skye to walk and tell us she loves us or where she has pain, we would, but that's not an option for us," Mrs Worthington said.
She also said they accepted the apology. "One day, Skye will read it and we'll be able to explain," she added.