Woman whose son died after Portlaoise birth settles claim

Margaret Browne’s son Darren died 20 minutes after birth in 1998

A woman whose baby son died twenty minutes after his birth at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, in 1998 has settled her High Court action against the HSE on confidential terms.

It was claimed then 27-year-old Margaret Browne was also told after the birth and and death twenty minutes later of her son Darren in 1998 the baby had died of organ failure and he had been missing organs.

However, it was alleged an autopsy the next day noted no congenital abnormalities in the respiratory system or in the cardiovascular system and the abdominal organs were normal in appearance.

The autopsy concluded the cord was normal and appearances suggested placenta failure.


Ms Browne alleged it was only on obtaining her medical records through a Freedom of Information request two years ago that she discovered the cause of her son’s death was different to what she had previously understood.

It was further contended, while the post mortem did not attempt to provide a cause of death, a description of the lungs lead to the conclusion the baby died from hypoxia/ischaemia.

Ms Browne, now aged 46, Cluain Dara, Kildangan, Co Kildare, sued the HSE over the circumstances of her care and the birth and death of her son on August 5th 1998.

It was claimed Ms Browne was referred to the Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise in July 1998 after a GP had noted she had not experienced foetal movements for two days.

A scan was performed and a CTG test taken and she was told to attend the clinic in two weeks time.

On July 28th, 1998 her doctor again referred her to the hospital and it was noted she had not felt any foetal movements for five days. An ultrasound detected a single active foetus and she was discharged home.

On August 4th, when she was 35 weeks pregnant, Ms Browne was again referred to the hospital for monitoring and a scan recorded “no movements seen”. She remained under observation and an interagency caesarean section was carried out the next day.

The baby’s condition deteriorated after birth and the infant was pronounced dead after twenty minutes.

It was alleged, despite CTG abnormalities allegedly present at the time of admission on August 4th, 1998, there was no intervention then or throughout that night into the next day.

It was alleged further abnormalities appeared on the CTG but there was no attempt to intervene and that, by the time an intervention was made, it was too late.

The claims were denied.

Senior Counsel Bruce Antoniotti told the court on Thursday the case had been settled after mediation on confidential terms. Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the settlement.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times