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Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Failure to Act at Birth

A High Court judge has approved a settlement of compensation for a failure to act at birth which resulted in a child suffering serious brain injuries.

At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard how Katie Martin from Trim in County Meath was born at the Coombe Hospital on November 9th 2000, after her mother – Fiona – had been admitted to the hospital that morning complaining of having irregular contractions.

Fiona underwent a CTG trace after her admission into hospital which suggested that Katie was being deprived of oxygen in the womb. However, it took nearly 90 minutes for staff at the hospital to act on the abnormal readings and organise an emergency Caesarean Section.

When Katie was delivered, she showed no signs of life having suffered a cardiac arrest in the womb, but fortunately staff at the hospital were able to resuscitate her. Katie – now thirteen years of age – had suffered serious brain injuries as a result of being deprived of oxygen, and will need around the clock care for the rest of her life.

Fiona Martin claimed compensation for a failure to act at the birth of her child against the Coombe Hospital; who contested its alleged liability for Katie´s injuries, and argued that Katie was starved of oxygen in the womb before her mother arrived at the hospital. The hospital prepared a full defence against the claim, arguing that that it was already too late to prevent an injury after Fiona´s arrival.

However, Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court heard that a settlement of €4 million compensation for a failure to act at birth had been negotiated without the hospital admitting liability. The judge was told that the case was before her for approval of the settlement and, after hearing the circumstances surrounding Katie´s birth, approved the settlement – commenting that it was a good one considering that the case had been contested by the defendant.