Woman with spastic cerebral palsy settles case against maternity hospital for €8.25m

The High Court heard the settlement came without an admission of liability
Woman with spastic cerebral palsy settles case against maternity hospital for €8.25m

High Court reporters

A 25-year-old woman with spastic cerebral palsy who sued the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin has settled a High Court action for €8.25 million.

The High Court heard Rachel Barry, who has to use a wheelchair, hopes to get a third-level qualification so she can help other people who are disabled.

Counsel for Ms Barry, Des O’Neill SC, instructed by Ciaran Tansey solicitor, told the court the settlement was without admission of liability.

Counsel said it was their case that had there been proper vigilance of her mother at the time, it would have led to an earlier delivery and Ms Barry would have avoided a brain injury.

Mr O’Neill pointed out there was no protocol at the time for daily blood tests, but this system has since changed at the hospital. However, counsel said Ms Barry's case must be judged on the 1997 standard.

Infection

Ms Barry, of Clonbalt Woods, Co Longford, had through her mother, Finola Barry, sued the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to have regard to the risk of infection and an alleged failure to diagnose the mother’s infection after she was transferred to the hospital in April 1997.

It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to show appropriate vigilance for chorioamnionitis, a condition which can occur in pregnancy where the membrane around the foetus gets infected.

On April 4th, 1997, Finola Barry was admitted to Midlands Regional Hospital. At this time, her pregnancy was at 30 weeks and two days and she had spontaneous rupture of the membranes.

She was then transferred to the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin.

It was claimed because the membrane had ruptured it meant there was an alleged risk of infection. A decision was made at Holles Street, it was claimed, not to deliver the baby until April 14th, 1997.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was fair and reasonable.

Outside the court, solicitor Ciaran Tansey said the settlement was a big step for the family.

"It will allow Rachel to live independently and do all the things we all take for granted," he said.

Finola Barry added that her daughter was relieved the case was over.

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