Boy not screened for hip problem at birth settles action for €120,000

It was claimed he will need hip replacement 10 years earlier than would normally be the case

A boy who claimed there was a delay in the diagnosis of a problem with his hip after his birth at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, has settled his High Court action for €120,000.

Michael O’Connell, now aged seven, had to have an operation on his hip two years ago. His GP first noted a hip problem when he was four months old.

In the High Court on Wednesday Alan Keating BL, instructed by Rachael Liston solicitor, for the child, said their case was the baby should have been screened for hip instability on his birth according to the hip screening protocol in place at the hospital.

The hospital admitted a breach of duty in the case, the court was told. It admitted that, on October 28th 2013, the baby was discharged home without the protocol having been followed as required. It also admitted liability in relation to the delay in diagnosis of the baby’s hip problem for the period from October 28th 2013 to April 15th 2014.


Counsel told the court there were issues in relation to causation but the settlement had been reached after mediation.

Counsel said their case was the hospital did not follow the protocol which would have included the baby being monitored and regular ultrasounds being carried out over a period of weeks and months. If this had been done, there would have been a different outcome for the baby, he said.

Mr Keating said the boy had surgery in 2018 and took several weeks to recover. He is now running and walking and in a much better position than his parents had initially feared.

The boy form Butterfield Orchard, Rathfarnham, Dublin, had through his mother, Elizabeth O'Connell, sued the hospital.

He was delivered by caesarean section there on October 24th 2013.

It was claimed the hip screening protocol, which allows for clinical examination for hip instability after babies are born, with backup ultrasounds and follow up X Rays, was not followed.

It was claimed he was discharged home three days after his birth with an entry stating the hips examination was normal.

On February 14th 2014, when the baby was brought to his GP on another matter, the doctor advised he have an X Ray of his hips. That was done and, in May 2014, he was referred to a consultant who diagnosed mild left sided developmental dysplasia where the ball and socket joint at the hip does not properly form. His parents were told he would need to have surgery and he did so at age four.

It was claimed the child was denied the opportunity of availing of the screening mandated by the protocol and the early detection of his mild dysplasia and subsequent effective nonsurgical treatment for it.

It was alleged, in later life, he will need a hip replacement ten years earlier than would normally be the case.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was an excellent one.