Mount Carmel Hospital and two consultants apologise over baby’s death

Parents settle action against hospital and obstetricians for undisclosed sum

David and Roberta Dodd outside the High Court yesterday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

David and Roberta Dodd outside the High Court yesterday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 01:00

A private maternity hospital and two consultant obstetricians have expressed sincere apologies at the High Court to the parents of a baby boy who died soon after his birth.

Mount Carmel Hospital and consultant obstetricians Valerie Donnelly and Gerry Rafferty also acknowledged fault in the management of Roberta Dodd’s labour leading to the death of her son, Senan.

The hospital in Churchtown, Dublin, and the consultants sincerely apologised to Senan’s parents, David and Roberta Dodd, for the tragic loss of their baby and the hurt and suffering that resulted for both of them from the care provided on that occasion.

The apology was read to the High Court as the couple, from Ticknock Dale, Ticknock, Sandyford, Dublin, settled their action for mental distress and nervous shock for an undisclosed sum.

The couple had sued the hospital and consultants after the death of Senan two days after he was born at the hospital on March 28th, 2008.

It was claimed the baby died due to negligence and breach of duty and the parents had suffered mental distress and nervous shock as a result.

Assessment of damages

Among various claims, it was alleged there was a failure to properly interpret or heed the significance of the serious abnormalities in the foetal heart rate pattern in a sufficiently prompt and timely manner and to ensure an earlier delivery.

The case was before the court for assessment of damages only.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told the couple had suffered profound psychological sequealae (pathological conditions) as a result of what had happened. An inquest into the baby’s death in 2011 was told there was a delay in performing an emergency Caesarean and he suffered severe brain damage due to oxygen deprivation.

A cardiotocography trace showed the child’s heart rate was slowing at 3.50pm but he was not delivered until four hours later, the court was told.

Bruce Antoniotti, for the couple, said an expert witness would have given evidence that had Senan had been delivered within an hour or even 90 minutes of the slow heart rate being detected he would have escaped injury.

The obstetricians continued to administer oxytocin – a drug to speed up contractions, the court was told. It also heard there were no facilities in the hospital at the time to take a foetal blood sample.

Counsel said Mr Rafferty had, at the inquest into the child’s death, offered his profound apologies and Ms Donnelly also expressed regret.

Ms Justice Irvine told the couple she knew no damages would compensate them. The judge noted the couple had lost their first child and said she hoped life would treat them more kindly in the future.

‘Catastrophic brain injury’

In a statement outside court, David Dodd said the death of Senan was “sadly avoidable”.

“He was a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Having suffered catastrophic brain injury arising from the management of the birth in Mount Carmel, Senan was transferred in the early hours of the morning by ambulance to Holles Street hospital to receive treatment there. He met his extended family, was named and baptised. He passed away two days later.”