A seven-figure settlement of medical negligence compensation has been approved by the High Court for injuries sustained by a eighteen year-old boy as an newborn.
On the 16th September 1996, Thomas O’Connor was delivered via Caesarean Section at the Sligo General Hospital. However, upon his birth he showed no signs of life and had to be resuscitated using a tube to provide oxygen. Then, on his way to Intensive Care, baby Thomas suffered a heart attack. Once again, the newborn had to be brought back to life.
As a result of both of these incidents, Thomas was deprived of oxygen and sustained devastating damage to his brain. The damage has rendered him a spastic quadriplegic that requires round-the-clock care. Thomas, who is also blind and requires a tube for feeding, lives in a residential care home in Co. Sligo, close to his family.
Thomas’ mother, Ann, made a claim on her son’s behalf against Sligo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive. In the claim, she alleged that she had received inadequate care before the birth of her son. Additionally, she claims that Thomas’ heart attack was a direct consequence of the improper insertion of his breathing tube.
However, both parties denied that they were liable for Thomas’ condition and contested Ann’s claim for birth injury compensation. The case proceeded to Dublin’s High Court, where it was overseen by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.
During the hearing, an expert witness told the judge that, despite a CTG scan conducted the morning before Thomas’ showing that he was suffering from foetal distress syndrome, there was an unnecessary delay of up to four hours in his delivery.
The witness also told the court that the tube used to ventilate Thomas after his first resuscitation had not been inserted in accordance with established guidelines. Rather than the recommended insertion depth of 9 to 10 cm, the tube had been inserted to 14 cm. This meant that Thomas was not adequately ventilated, leading to the heart attack.
The hearing proceeded for a total of four weeks, after which the HSE agreed to pay €1.75 million in compensation to Thomas. This was then approved by Judge Cross, who expressed his relief that the drawn-out ordeal was over for the O’Connors.