Mismanaged Birth Case Settled in High Court

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The case of a mismanaged birth-which lead to the death of a baby-has been settled in the High Court.

In November 2012, Fiona Walters was brought to the Cavan General Hospital while in the late stages of her first pregnancy. Her was broke early in the morning of the 22nd, and she was administered Prostaglandin to aid her labour. The levels of the drug given to her proceeded to increase as the labour went on.

Later in the morning, a natural birth was attempted, but after an hour the midwife in charge contacted the consultant obstetrician Dr Saleh Aziz to inform him that the baby was still not visible to them. It appeared that the baby was suffering from foetal distress in the womb.

Dr Aziz arrived to assist in the birth, but discovered that the only out-of-hours theatre in the hospital was already in use. Delivery using a forceps and a vacuum delivery were both attempted without success. The theatre eventually became available, and Fiona underwent an emergency Caesarean Section operation, but her son – Jamie – was delivered in a very poor condition.

Jamie was immediately transferred to a special care baby unit at the Rotunda Hospital. Despite the best attempts of the staff on hand, he died two days later. The initial investigation into his death was abandoned after Dr Aziz proved that the HSE investigators who had been assigned the case failed to follow the correct procedural routes.

However Fiona and her partner – Francis Flynn – had already received an advanced copy of the report and, after seeking legal advice, they claimed medical negligence compensation for the death of a baby against Cavan General Hospital and the HSE.

The HSE did not admit liability for Jamie’s death until nearly a full year after the incident had occurred. A second investigation was commissioned, which was ordered to be carried out by an independent party due to the deaths of two more children at the Cavan General Hospital.

In December 2014, the final report was released, and Jamie’s death was attributed to medical misadventure. The coroner in charge of the investigation stated that the increased doses of Prostiglandin, Dr Aziz´s failure to inform the registrar that the Jamie´s delivery was expected that evening and the lack of a second out-of-hours theatre at the hospital were all causative events for Jamie´s death.

Negotiations between the two parties began in order to settle the claim for medical negligence compensation for the death of a baby. Due to the traumatic circumstances leading up to Jamie´s birth and the protracted investigations into Jamie´s death, a settlement of €70,000 was agreed with the State Claims Agency.

The case was brought to the High Court before Mr Justice Raymond Humphreys so that the settlement could be approved. The judge heard that heard that the size of the settlement reflected the long-lasting grief and distress that had been suffered by Jamie´s parents. Judge Humphreys approved the settlement, stipulating that €5,000 of the settlement should be paid into court funds for the benefit of Fiona and Francis´ daughter.

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