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Settlement of Birth Injury Brain Damage Compensation Approved

A High Court judge has approved a €1.75 million settlement of birth injury brain damage compensation in favour of an eighteen year old man from County Sligo.

Thomas O´Connor was delivered by emergency Caesarean Section on September 6th 1996 at Sligo General Hospital, showing no signs of life due to being deprived of oxygen prior to his birth. He was resuscitated and taken to the hospital´s Intensive Care Unit, but on the way suffered a heart attack and had to be resuscitated once again.

Because of twice being deprived of oxygen, Thomas suffered terrible brain damage. He is spastic quadriplegic, blind, fed through a tube and cared for full-time at a residential home close to his family´s home in Collooney in County Sligo.

Through his mother, Ann, Thomas made a claim for birth injury brain damage against the Sligo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive – alleging that his mother received a poor standard of care prior to his birth, and that his heart attack was due to the tube used to ventilate him being too deeply inserted.

Sligo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive denied liability for Thomas´ brain injury, and contested the claim for birth injury brain damage compensation. Consequently, the case proceeded to the High Court in Dublin, where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the hearing, Judge Cross was told by expert witnesses that a CTG trace monitoring the foetal heartrate had been discontinued in the morning of Thomas´ birth. This was despite there being clear evidence of foetal distress. Thomas´ birth was avoidably delayed by up to four hours the judge heard.

The judge was also told that the tube used to ventilate Thomas had been inserted at a depth of 14cms into Thomas´ lungs. The usual depth of insertion is between 9cms and 10cms, and the consequence of this alleged error was that Thomas was not ventilated effectively, causing him to suffer a heart attack which exacerbated the level of brain damage he suffered.

Over the course of the four-week hearing, the Health Service Executive agreed to a €1.75 million settlement of birth injury brain damage compensation. After hearing that the €1.75 million settlement will pay for Thomas´ continued care at the residential home in Collooney, Judge Cross approved the settlement – adding that he was delighted the legal ordeal had come to an end for the O´Connor family.