A 27-YEAR OLD woman with cerebral palsy has sued in the High Court over the care she received after her birth at a now closed private maternity hospital in Cork city.
Jane Harte, who cannot speak or walk and has spastic quadriplegia, has taken an action over her care at City General Hospital, Infirmary Rd, Cork, in 1995 where her mother, who was then 16 years of age, was a patient.
The case is against retired consultant and gynaecologist Pallany Pillay, aged 88, also of Cork City, who was the proprietor of City General Hospital which closed in 2000.
Mr Pillay was also a consultant at the hospital and Jane’s mother Olivia was his private patient.
Liability is contested in the case and all the claims are denied.
Jane’s counsel, John O’Mahony, told the court it was their case that after she was born healthy, Baby Jane had significant difficulty with her breathing and “went dramatically downhill”.
Counsel said when she was transferred to Erinville Hospital at 17 hours old, she was “literally in extremis with severe septic shock” and later meningitis.
Dr O’Mahony, instructed by Callan Tansey solicitors, told the court it was their case appropriate steps should have been taken at City General Hospital and if given antibiotics, Baby Jane would have recovered.
Counsel said it was their contention that there was “ample opportunity to intervene when the baby required antibiotics, but “it was left too late when nothing could be done.”
Counsel said the private hospital was high-end and luxurious with hotel-standard accommodation but that “there was a lot left to be desired in terms of service”.
Jane, counsel said, is “profoundly, permanently, and irreversibly disabled” and has to use a wheelchair. She lives at the Cope Foundation facility in Montenotte, Cork City, and has taken the action through her mother Olivia Harte.
Counsel for Mr Pillay, Adrienne Egan, told Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds liability is contested. She said it was accepted the baby developed meningitis but what was at issue in the case was when the relevant symptoms arose. Counsel said that records from the closed hospital had been destroyed in 2015 and these proceedings had been initiated three years ago. She applied to the court to first decide on the issue of liability. Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds will give her decision on that application tomorrow. The case has been listed for six weeks.
In the proceedings, it is claimed Baby Jane started to grunt after her birth on October 8, 1995, and that her mother clearly recalls the baby’s noisy breathing and moaning, which it is claimed worsened as time passed.
Despite showing persistent worsening respiratory distress, the baby, it is claimed, did not receive any antibiotics. It is claimed this was despite her mother and other relatives who were present at the hospital repeatedly expressing their serious concerns for the baby’s wellbeing.
Baby Jane, at 17-hours-old, was transferred to the neonatal until of the then-Erinville Hospital, Cork, in her grandmother’s car and accompanied by a midwife.
On the baby’s arrival at Erinville, it is claimed she was close to death.
It is claimed there was a delay in the treatment of the baby’s Group B streptococcus early onset sepsis, and meningitis. It is claimed that had she been treated appropriately when she first exhibited respiratory distress she would not have developed septic shock and meningitis.
The alleged delay in administering antibiotics, it is claimed, allegedly caused her to develop septic shock and meningitis which caused her brain damage.
It is claimed there was an alleged failure to act upon the baby’s persistent worsening respiratory distress, and an alleged failure to administer antibiotics.
There was, it was claimed, an alleged failure to recognise Group B streptococcus early onset sepsis and an alleged delay in its treatment which it is claimed allowed the baby to develop overwhelming sepsis and meningitis.
The claims are denied.
The case continues tomorrow.
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