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Irish Family Recovers €2.2million Birth Injury Settlement

mother baby - birthAs reported by The Irish Examiner on July 27, 2013, the family of a nine year-old Irish boy with cerebral palsy has won a birth injury settlement of €2.2million, after the High Court deemed the attending doctors were liable for negligence during the boy’s delivery. Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement agreement for the young boy, named Adam Aylward, who through his mother filed a medical negligence lawsuit against the HSE, which is responsible for providing health and social services to all Ireland residents.

The suit alleged that negligent actions during the boy’s birth at Waterford Regional Hospital on December 5, 2003 led to his cerebral palsy diagnosis.

The €2.2m birth injury settlement, which equals nearly $3 million dollars, will not be appealed by the HSE, according to representatives for the defendant.

Emergency C-section subject of medical negligence lawsuit

At the crux of negligence allegations was an emergency Cesarean section that was ordered by the doctor when Adam’s mother was only at 28 weeks gestation. The judge found that the physician’s diagnosis of abruption, and decision to perform an early C-section to be “on the balance of all probabilities, wrong,” and a negligent action that came with dire consequences for the baby. The suit claimed that sodium levels in Adam’s blood had plummeted sharply, potentially damaging brain cells, yet this had gone unnoticed by the attending doctor, whose examination of the mother was very brief.

Justice Kevin Cross heard compelling testimony from the boy’s mother, Diedre, who alleged that her symptoms on December 5 were not unlike those of menstrual pains, and that her doctor’s check-up was a “short one.” Placental abruption, where the placental lining separates from the uterus, can be a dangerous complication during pregnancy, and may contribute to fetal distress and morbidity. Characterized by abdominal pain with or without vaginal bleeding, abruption treatment depends largely on the status of the fetus and the amount of blood loss. If the mother is less than 36 weeks pregnant, as was the case with Adam Aylward, and neither mother nor baby are showing signs of distress, symptoms are closely watched until the fetus reaches maturity or if conditions deteriorate.

While the exact details of Diedre’s pregnancy complications weren’t disclosed, the judge found her doctor’s decision to perform an emergency C-section in this situation, which was not clearly an emergency, to be a negligent one.

Birth injury settlement not inclusive of future medical care payments

While a substantial payout by the HSE, the €2.2million settlement does not include additional payments for the ongoing medical needs of Adam, which the family hopes will be determined with the passing of pending legislation that grants periodic payments for malpractice cases involving catastrophic injuries.

Though there is no known cure for cerebral palsy, treatment options including medications, orthopedic devices, physical and occupational therapy and surgery can help those afflicted attain better mobility. Depending on the type and severity of the disorder, some individuals with cerebral palsy also suffer extreme cognitive impairment, hearing and vision problems.

Adam’s parents said that despite his challenges, their boy is “a great joy to his mother and father.”