Thursday 14 December 2017

Woman awarded €591,000 over birth operation

Tim Healy and Louise Hogan

A WOMAN who claims she never recovered from a surgical procedure has been awarded nearly €600,000 by the High Court.

Tracey Nelson (45) said she had endured severe pain as a result of the symphysiotomy, where the cartilage of the pubic symphysis is divided to widen the pelvis for childbirth.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill ruled that the standard of care provided at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth, "fell substantially below" that required.

Awarding €591,297 in damages to Ms Nelson, a mother of two from Navan, Co Meath, he said her life "had been transformed and degraded".

Following the High Court ruling, a group representing women who have undergone the procedure said the vast majority of its more than 200 members were taking legal action.

Marie O'Connor, chair of the Survivors of Symphiosotomy, said members had been "forced to go down this road" by the refusal of successive governments to deal with the issue.


The operation has been carried out on 1,500 women in Ireland since the 1940s.

Ms O'Connor said many of them were not informed it was being done, and suffer from chronic pain.

Ms Nelson sued the Health Service Executive (HSE), saying the hospital had been negligent in the management of her treatment during the course of her pregnancy in February 2000, in its failure to diagnose she was suffering from symphysis-pubis dysfunction (SPD).

She also said the HSE failed to take the necessary precautions to prevent that condition advancing to symphysiotomy during the delivery of her second child in February 2000.

The defendant had denied the claims.

The judge noted that Ms Nelson, who was employed as a chef, had been unable to work.

She had developed a condition known as fibromyalgia, where she had constant pain in her muscles and joints, as well as depression.

The court heard her marriage broke up and, due to the pain, she began to drink heavily.

Irish Independent

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