Girl (12) awarded €2.6m over birth injuries

HSE apologises and makes settlement with admission of liability

Kevin and Mary Conroy from Portlaoise leave the High Court, Dublin after a settlement case in which they where awarded €2.6 million following errors around the birth of Daughter Roisin Conroy. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Kevin and Mary Conroy from Portlaoise leave the High Court, Dublin after a settlement case in which they where awarded €2.6 million following errors around the birth of Daughter Roisin Conroy. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Tue, Nov 26, 2013, 17:39

A young girl with cerebral palsy as a result of injuries suffered during her birth at the Midland Regional Hospital has received an apology from the HSE and the constultant obstetrician who treated her, plus an interim payment of €2.6 million, under a settlement of her High Court case.

Roisin Conroy (12) can only communicate with her eyes and is permanently disabled, the court heard.

Through her mother, Mary Conroy, Dysart, Portlaoise, Co Laois, the child sued the HSE and a consultant obstetrician, John P. Corristine attached to Portlaoise General Hospital, now the Midland Regional Hospital, as a result of injuries sustained at the time of her birth on November 14th, 2001.

The settlement, which allows for the level of further care payments to be decided in two years time, was made with an admission of liability.

Yesterday, counsel for the HSE and Mr Corristine read an apology in open court.

It stated: “I am instructed by the defendants and it is a term of the settlement to express their sincere apologies for the failings that caused injuries to Roisin Conroy and the consequential trauma experienced by Roisin and her family.”

The defendants, the statement said, “understand that neither this apology nor the financial compensation granted by the court can negate the continuing heartache that the Conroy family must feel every day and appreciate that this continues to be a very difficult time for them”.

Outlining the case, Denis McCullough SC, for the child, said Roisin’s mother was a private patient of Dr Corristine.

On November 10th, 2001, Ms Conroy went to the hospital when she thought her membranes had ruptured, was reassured and discharged home. Three days later, she attended Mr Corristine’s clinic and, following an ultrasound, insisted she be admitted to hospital.

A CTG trace was commenced after Mr Corristine examined Ms Conroy but there was no recording of contractions, counsel said. After another examination, Ms Conroy was advised to take a bath but there was no hot water in the hospital.

At 12.30pm, it was claimed Mr Corristine ordered medicine be administered and it was also claimed Ms Conroy did not see the consultant again either at the labour or birth of her daughter.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told Mr Corristine would say he had given over care of the patient to another consutlant but Ms Conroy would argue this was done without her knowledge.

When Roisin was born she was in poor condition, later had seizures and was transferred to a Dublin hospital. her parents, the court heard, had given up their jobs to care for their daughter.

Approving the settlement, Ms Justice Irvine said she hoped it would bring some normality to their lives. She knew no money could coumpensate for the injuries to Roisin but it would help her have the best possible quality of life.

In a statement read outside court, Mr Conroy said he and his wife were relieved their “beautiful daughter” Roisin can now get the specialist care and therapy she needs and deserves.

The family were also relieved the circumstances around Roisin’s birth had been brought out in the open, albeit twelve yerars later, he said.

Until two years ago, the family thought they had been “just unlucky” in relation to the the birth of their child, he said. They had issued proceedings two years ago and liability was admitted five weeks before the trial date.

“While we put literally everything we have into the care for Roisin, we have not been able to provide the level of care and therapy the experts say would, over the course of 12 years, have significantly imporoved her condition and abiltiies.”

“Roisin needs 24-hour care, but she gives us back so much. It just tears our hearts to think what might havce been for her. This settlement won’t change this but it will at least give us the comfort that Roisin will be properly cared for, even beyond our lifetimes.”

Solicitor Michael Boylan argued there was a need for the Government to introduce a legal “duty of candour” for health care professionals which, he said, would help reduce stress and prevent years of hardship for the catastrophically injured and their families.