Health Service Executive Has Apologised To The Parents Of A 12-Year-Old Who Suffered A Brain Injury At Birth (As Reported By The Irish Times November 2013)
The Health Service Executive has apologised to the parents of a 12-year-old girl who suffered a brain injury at birth after the High Court approved an interim settlement of €2.6 million.
Roisin Conroy from Dysart in Portlaoise has cerebral palsy as a result of her birth at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise in 2001.
Through her mother, Mary, Roisin sued the HSE and consultant John P Corristine over the mismanagement of her birth, which led to the injury.
The family's legal team maintained that Roisin's injuries were entirely avoidable.
Lawyers for the HSE told the court this morning it expressed sincere apologies for the injuries caused.
They said: "Neither this apology nor the financial compensation granted by the court can negate the continuing heartache that the Conroy family must feel every day."
The lawyers said the HSE appreciated that "this continues to be a very difficult time" for the family.
The couple's solicitor, Michael Boylan, said the case again highlights the need for a legal duty of candour to be introduced for the medical profession to own up when a mistake is made to prevent years of trauma for families.
Mr Boylan said he would now "earnestly call on the Government" to introduce the legal duty.
Roisin's father, Kevin Conroy, said it took years to get an admission of liability in the case and nearly a decade was wasted while Roisin was denied the care she needed.
In statement outside the court, he said he was relieved that the settlement meant "our beautiful daughter can now get the specialist care she needs and deserves".
Mr Conroy said: "While as a family we can look into our hearts and accept a mistake, what we cannot accept or forgive is the failure of an individual, in who we placed our utmost trust, to give a full and accurate account of the circumstances surrounding Roisin's birth.
"This meant compounding the injustice by denying Roisin a proper chance of amelioration and recovery.
"Yes, the system failed once again, but here an individual failed us. We are left asking 'where is the accountability?'"
Mr Boylan told RTÉ's Six One that for ten years the family believed their daughter's condition could not have been prevented.
He said that the sad part of this case is that during that those years the family were deprived of proper and adequate services which would have given the potential for Roisin to achieve some rehabilitation from her appalling injuries.
Mr Boylan said technology which would have enabled her to communicate could have been obtained earlier.
He said an admission of liability when medical errors occur would minimise the trauma that families undergo.
Mr Boylan said that in other jurisdictions such as the UK, a legal duty of candour had been introduced for hospital administrators and medical consultants as part of their contracts.
The court was told Ms Conroy was a private patient of Dr Corristine and was seen on various dates in the run-up to the birth.
Ms Conroy attended the hospital four days before Roisin was born and believed her waters had broken, but she was reassured by another doctor and sent home.
She attended her consultant two days later, when a scan detected reduced amniotic fluid.
Ms Conroy insisted she be admitted to hospital and was told to attend the following day to be induced.
The consultant examined her on the day, but did not attend for the rest of the labour or the birth.
The court was told there was no paediatric team at the hospital at the time of birth and they arrived five minutes later.
Roisin suffered from a lack of oxygen. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and now needs 24-hour care and monitoring.
The settlement is an interim one and the family will return to court in two years, when it is hoped a scheme will be in place for periodic payments.
(source Irish Times Nov 2013)