Man (19) who sued over birth circumstances settles case with €1.5m interim payout

Man has an intellectual disability and is not able to live independently, court hears

A 19-year-old man who sued over the circumstances of his birth at Limerick Regional Maternity Hospital has settled his High Court action with a €1.5 million interim payout.

It was claimed the young man, who cannot be identified by order of the court, suffered a type of brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain.

His senior counsel, Patrick Treacy, instructed by Cian O’Carroll solicitors, told the court the case had settled after mediation. He said it is alleged the young man suffered an insult to the brain at the time of his birth. This resulted in an intellectual delay and he is not able to live independently, counsel said.

Counsel said breach of duty was admitted by the Health Service Executive (HSE), but causation remained at issue. The interim settlement is for the next five years, after which the man’s future care needs will be assessed.

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The 19-year-old had, through his mother, sued the HSE over the management and care provided at the Limerick hospital to him and his mother during labour and delivery in 2005.

It was claimed the baby should have been delivered earlier by Caesarean section and that the second stage of delivery lasted 42 minutes, which, it was claimed, was excessive and should have been reduced by instrumental delivery.

It was further claimed the baby was acutely and severely asphyxiated at birth and there was attempted head cooling without the necessary equipment and allegedly without counselling or obtaining consent from the baby’s parents.

The HSE admitted a breach of duty. It accepted that, following delivery, the baby suffered an initial hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy consistent with an episode of hypoxia ischemia before delivery which most likely occurred within 24 hours up to a maximum of 48 hours before delivery.

It was also accepted the baby suffered from hypocarbia for about six hours as well as a period of mild hyponatremia, which refers to sodium levels in the blood and that attempted cooling provided was not to appropriate standards.

However, the HSE contended that the care provided during labour and at the time of delivery was of a reasonable standard. It also said the CTG trace during labour was reassuring and there was no indication for intervention to have an earlier delivery.

The HSE further contended that neonatal care following the boy’s delivery was appropriate and in line with standards on neonatal care in 2005. The HSE denied that any of the injuries alleged were caused or contributed to by any alleged lack or want of care.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was fair and reasonable and he wished the young man and his family all the best.

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