Court awards €675,000 over cerebral palsy birth
Tipperary hospital admits negligence in not transferring newborn boy for head cooling
Noelle and Liam Tobin from Co Tipperary leaving the Four Courts on Tuesday after their High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts
A child with mild cerebral palsy who sued over the circumstances of his birth at South Tipperary General Hospital has settled part of his action for €675,000.
The €675,000 sum for Billy Tobin, now aged five, from outside Clonmel, Co Tipperary, is for his past and future care and the case will return to the High Court in six years’ time when a sum for future loss of earnings will be assessed.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the child underwent ground-breaking spinal surgery in the US and the court was shown a video of the boy playing in snow last December throwing snowballs, walking and running near his home.
Through his father, Liam Tobin, Billy sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth on June 15th, 2012, at South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel.
His mother, Noelle Tobin, who had given birth to twins by Caesarean section 16 months previously, was booked in for an elective Caesarean on June 20th, 2012, but she attended hospital on June 14th with a history of bleeding.
It is claimed that, on June 15th, 2012, a decision was taken to augment labour and perform an artificial rupture with a Syntocinon infusion. That decision, it is alleged, increased the risk of uterine rupture and the risk of requiring a Caesarean.
It was further claimed Ms Tobin was never properly advised of the increased risk associated with augmented labour in a situation where she had previously undergone a lower segment Caesarean.
Ms Tobin was started on Syntocinon at 3.45pm and this was later increased.
It was alleged there was an excessive infusion of Syntocinon as a result of which Ms Tobin was caused to suffer uterine rupture which, it was claimed, in turn caused the baby to be injured.
There was, it was alleged, hyperstimulation in the womb. When Billy was born, he was close to death and had to be resuscitated.
It was claimed there was failure to advise Mrs Tobin either properly or at all of the risks associated with vaginal birth after a previous elective Caesarean and alleged failure to perform cooling treatment on the baby in a timely manner.
Billy’s counsel Bruce Antoniotti SC told the court that while liability was not admitted in the case, there was an admission in relation to negligence in not transferring the baby to another hospital after birth for head cooling.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross wished Billy all the best for the future.
‘Duty of candour’
Outside court, Ms Tobin, in a statement on behalf of the family, said there needed to be a “duty of candour” introduced so that time and money were not wasted on investigations only to have a case settled at the 11th hour.
“Families should be supported when a traumatic event occurs and not left to their own devices to find out where to turn,” she said. “The reality of having a child with extra needs in this country is not easy.”
“Carers and those they care for are often afterthoughts in our society, fighting for every little bit on intervention that might help their loved ones.”
The family are happy they will now be able to give Billy everything he will need “to continue to thrive physically, socially and emotionally”, she said. “He is a wonderful little boy who has taught us more than we will ever teach him.”