Wednesday 21 February 2018

Woman sues hospital for allegedly mismanaging her birth

Alison Fox and her mother leaving the Four Courts. Picture: Collins
Alison Fox and her mother leaving the Four Courts. Picture: Collins

Ann O'Loughlin

A 27-YEAR-old woman is suing a hospital claiming she was injured during her birth.

Alison Fox claims Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth and  consultant obstetrician Finian Lynch in the High Court mismanaged her birth.   The claims are denied.

The court heard that, as a result of her injuries, Ms Fox has short-term memory problems, poor co-ordination/balance and difficulty writing.  However, she had gone to school and completed her Leaving Certificate.

The case centres on whether her mother Breege should have had a caesarean operation as her baby was in the breech position, the court was told.

Breege Fox told the court the baby's  head was stuck in the birth canal and when another doctor came and asked how long it had been there, and was told seven minutes, he (doctor) said it was "too late" before he delivered the baby.

Ms Fox, Creewood, Slane, Co Meath, claims the hospital allowed an inexperienced doctor to carry out the delivery and there was an alleged failure to ensure the labour and delivery were conducted by a senior obstetrician.

It is further claimed Mr Lynch allegedly failed to carry out a caesarean when he knew, or ought to  have known, it was appropriate to do so having regard to the diagnostic tests carried out.  There was also a failure to put in place sufficient expertise if he was to be absent himself, it was claimed.

The claims are denied and the consultant, Mr Lynch, denies a caesarean section was appropriate or required.

Opening the case, Sara Moorehead SC, for Ms Fox, said it was Breege Fox's first pregnancy and she was referred by her GP to consultant obstetrician Mr Lynch.

On March 26, 1987, counsel said, Mrs Fox was admitted to the hospital for a possible caesarean as the baby was in the breech position.

Counsel said Mr Lynch met with Mrs Fox and said her baby was not going to be big and she would be well able to have the baby naturally.

Mrs Fox was re-admitted to on April 7, to potentially have a caesarean, but  there was an artificial breaking of the waters and oxytocin was administered, counsel said.

 This was a high-risk pregnancy that needed to be monitored carefully, counsel said.

The key aspect of the case occurred during 40 minutes before the baby was born when the only doctor in attendance is believed to have been a junior registrar, counsel said.

Mr Lynch was in the operating theatre carrying out other procedures. The protocol at the time, counsel said, was that in a high risk birth another consultant would be present.

Counsel said the baby's feet were born first, followed by the shoulder, but the junior registrar was unable to apply the forceps to deliver the baby's head.  When another consultant was called, he viewed the situation as extremely urgent and delivered the head within two minutes, counsel said.

Alison was limp at birth, spent 24 hours on a ventilator and was in hospital for a further two weeks.

The case continues before Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

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