Girl left disabled after premature birth settles for €2.1m

Family of Limerick girl ‘relieved’ action against HSE over birth circumstances is over

Katie McGuane (13) with her mother Niamh leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts

Katie McGuane (13) with her mother Niamh leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A teenage girl who sued over the circumstances of her premature birth at a Limerick maternity hospital has settled her High Court action against the HSE on terms including an initial payout of €2.1 million.

Katie McGuane and her twin brother were born prematurely in November 2003 but Katie’s twin died six days later, her counsel Dr John O’Mahony SC said. Katie is partially deaf with epilepsy and physical and mental impairment, he said.

His side contended there were two omissions in her mother’s care. A urine specimen was not examined and, had it been, that would have shown an infection which could have been treated, he said.

The second omission was full dilation was not diagnosed and steroids were not given which would have been beneficial to the babies, counsel said.

Through her mother Niamh, of Ballysimon Crescent, Fairgreen, Limerick city, Katie sued the HSE over the circumstances of her birth at St Munchin’s Regional Maternity Hospital, Limerick, on November 26th, 2003.

Failure

It was claimed Katie was prematurely born by way of Caesarean section at 26 weeks and four days. It was also claimed there was failure to note her mother was suffering from a urinary tract infection and failure to heed the risk of the mother entering premature labour because of the presence of nitrates in the urine and the fact she was pregnant with twins.

It was also alleged there was failure to cause a mid steam urine test taken on November 10th, 2003 to be properly reported on.

Ms McGuane, it was alleged, was exposed to a risk of premature delivery by reason of the failure to treat the urinary tract infection. It was also alleged there was failure to properly diagnose the mother’s condition by way of premature labour when she attended hospital on November 26th, 2003.

It was further claimed Katie was allegedly deprived of the chance or opportunity of having treatment which would have assisted her in the birthing process and allegedly unnecessarily exposed to a risk of developing significant physical and mental impairment by reason of her unnecessarily premature delivery.

Mental impairments

Katie suffered significant physical and mental impairments and remained in hospital until March 2nd, 2004, it was claimed. The claims were denied.

Ms McGuane told Mr Justice Kevin Cross her daughter attends a school for the deaf, that was the best thing that had happened to her and she loves it.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross extended his sympathy on the loss of Katie’s twin and said he hoped the settlement will be of benefit to Katie.

When the case comes back before the courts in five years’ time, Katie’s future care needs will be assessed.

Outside court, Seán O’Riordain, solicitor for the family, said they were relieved it was all over and Ms McGuane wanted to thank her extended family for their help in caring for Katie over the years.