Sunday 25 February 2018

HSE pays out millions to families over catastrophic births

Miagros Martin, with her parents Ruary and Nanci, and her brother Photo: Aidan Oliver
Miagros Martin, with her parents Ruary and Nanci, and her brother Photo: Aidan Oliver
John and Sandra Butler, parents of Alex

Tim Healy

A father said his daughter's life had been "destroyed forever" after she was left disabled following her birth.

Milagros Martin, who is currently receiving treatment in the US, has cerebral palsy, is severely compromised and disabled, the court heard.

Through her father, Ruary Martin, of Clonard Court, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, she sued the HSE as a result of the circumstances of her birth at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital on December 11, 2011.

An apology was read out as part of the settlement of Milagros Martin's case against the HSE, with an interim settlement payout of €1.9m for her care for the next three years.

The Drogheda hospital apologised "sincerely and unambiguously" to the Martin family and said: "All staff regret the outcome of this tragic case."

It was claimed that there was a failure to conduct a Caesarean section within an appropriate period. It was further claimed that because Milagros' mother, Nanci, had a history of a prior Caesarean section with her first child, there was a particular duty for medical staff in relation to future pregnancies

Liability had been admitted in the case in 2014, the court was told. Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the settlement.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Martin said no monetary amount could ever compensate his daughter for the catastrophic injuries she suffered at birth.

He continued: "Our daughter's life has been destroyed forever. We welcome the HSE's apology, but we are really disappointed that the individuals responsible have provided no apology. And the hospital has taken no action against them.

"Unless there are consequences to failures in hospital, then they will be repeated. This is not the first cerebral palsy case, it will not be the last."

Mr Martin said his first child, a son, was three years of age at the time and his wife had to give 24-hour care to Milagros.

For the first two to three months after coming home, their daughter cried constantly "until tears came down our faces. Every second, every minute of her waking life, she cried, she literally screamed."

In a separate case, a 10-year-old girl settled her action against the HSE for €9m.

The final settlement of Alex Butler's case brings to €10.4m the total in relation to her legal action over her birth at Waterford Regional Hospital in 2005.

The final settlement came on the penultimate day of a hearing which had already gone on for 18 days.

As a result of intensive physiotherapy treatment in the US, Alex, who is normally confined to a wheelchair, can now manage to walk a few paces.

The court had heard previously that if Alex had been born 10 or 12 minutes earlier, she would not have been physically disabled.

Waterford Regional apologised, saying it "sincerely regrets the tragic consequences their failings have caused to both Alex and to her parents, John and Sonya Butler".

Through her mother, Sonya, of Kilmacleague, Dunmore East, Co Waterford, she sued consultant obstetrician at Waterford Regional, John Bermingham; locum consultant obstetrician Mahmud Khbuli, who now practises at University Hospital Galway, and the HSE.

Liability was admitted by the HSE and the case was struck out against Mr Bermingham and Mr Khbuli.

Mrs Butler said the family were shocked, after an apology and admission of liability, that it took another 18 days in court before a settlement was agreed.

Irish Independent

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