The family of a girl who suffered brain damage at her birth have had their claim for hospital obstetric negligence birth injuries
due to a lack of staff resolved at the High Court in Dublin.
Alex Butler (8) from Dunmore East, County Waterford, was born in Waterford in April 2005; however, due to the hospital not having an adequate number of properly trained competent medical workers to deal with the Alex´s delivery, and to guarantee that a properly competent obstetrician was on duty, Alex´s delivery was delayed by twelve minutes – during which time she sustained brain damage which resulted in permanent tetraplegic injury.
Acting through her mother – Sonya – Alex made a legal action for birth injuries due to a lack of staff at the hospital, claiming that her consultant obstetrician had been permitted to take leave at the same time as the hospital´s two other obstetricians and that the hospital had used a locum obstetrician without ensuring that he properly qualified and experienced. Additionally, it was alleged that Sonya´s pre-operative assessment was below acceptable standards and there was a failure to recognise the need for a Caesarean section.
The High Court was told that the Health Service Executive (HSE) accepted liability for Alex´s injuries, and the claims for hospital obstetric negligence birth injuries against the consultant obstetrician – John Bermingham – and locum obstetrician – Mahmud Khbuli – were thrown out. A spokesperson from Waterford Regional Hospital read out an apology for the mismanagement of Alex´s birth and admitted that the mistakes that were made should never have happened.
The Court was also advised that an interim settlement of Alex´s claim for hospital obstetric negligence birth injuries due to a lack of staff totalling at €1.4 million had been agreed upon between the HSE and Alex´s parents. The compensation settlement is to be revisited again in two years when an assessment of Alex´s care needs for the future has been completed, and by which time it is hoped that the option of a structured settlement of compensation is available.