Coverage featured in the Irish Times on Wed, Nov 27, 2013:

Girl (12) awarded €2.6m over birth injuries after hospital admits liability

A lawyer called yesterday for the Government to introduce a new law obliging medical personnel to frankly admit mistakes when they happen to reduce hardship and suffering and the stress and costs of litigation.

Solicitor Michael Boylan was speaking after a young girl with cerebral palsy as a result of injuries suffered during her birth at the Midland Regional Hospital has received an apology from the HSE and the consultant obstetrician who treated her, plus an interim payment of €2.6 million, under a settlement of her High Court case.

Catastrophically injured

The solicitor argued there is a need for the Government to introduce a legal “duty of candour” for healthcare professionals which, he said, would help reduce stress and prevent years of hardship for the catastrophically injured and their families.

Róisin Conroy (12) can only communicate with her eyes and is permanently disabled, the court heard.

Through her mother, Mary Conroy, Dysart, Portlaoise, Co Laois, the child sued the HSE and a consultant obstetrician, John P Corristine, attached to Portlaoise General Hospital, now the Midland Regional Hospital, as a result of injuries sustained at the time of her birth on November 14th, 2001.

The settlement, which allows for the level of further care payments to be decided in two years’ time, was made with an admission of liability.

Yesterday, counsel for the HSE and Mr Corristine read an apology in open court.

It stated: “I am instructed by the defendants and it is a term of the settlement to express their sincere apologies for the failings that caused injuries to Róisin Conroy and the consequential trauma experienced by Róisín and her family.

”The defendants, the statement said, “understand that neither this apology nor the financial compensation granted by the court can negate the continuing heartache that the Conroy family must feel every day and appreciate that this continues to be a very difficult time for them”.

Ultrasound

Outlining the case, Denis McCullough SC, for the child, said Róisin’s mother was a private patient of Dr Corristine. On November 10th, 2001, Mrs Conroy went to the hospital when she thought her membranes had ruptured, was reassured and discharged home. Three days later, she attended Mr Corrisine’s clinic and, following an ultrasound, insisted she be admitted to hospital.

A CTG trace was commenced after Mr Corristine examined Mrs Conroy but there was no recording of contractions, counsel said. After another examination, Mrs Conroy was advised to take a bath but there was no hot water in the hospital.

At 12.30pm, it was claimed Mr Corristine ordered medicine be administered and it was also claimed Mrs Conroy did not see the consultant again either at the labour or birth of her daughter.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told Mr Corristine would say he had given over care of the patient to another consultant but Mrs Conroy would argue this was done without her knowledge.

When Róisin was born she was in poor condition, later had seizures and was transferred to a Dublin hospital. Her parents, the court heard, had given up their jobs to care for their daughter.

Approving the financial settlement, Ms Justice Irvine said she hoped it would bring some normality to their lives. She said she knew no money could compensate for the injuries to Róisin but it would help her have the best possible quality of life.

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