Family of baby who died after heart was pierced during hospital procedure settle action

Baby Laoise Kavanagh Ní Scolai was only 42 hours and 27 minutes old when she died
Family of baby who died after heart was pierced during hospital procedure settle action

High Court Reporters

The parents of a premature baby who died after her heart was accidentally pierced during a chest drain procedure at the Coombe Hospital has settled a High Court action over her death.

Laoise Kavanagh Ní Scolai, who was a twin, was only 42 hours and 27 minutes old when she died after her heart was penetrated with plastic tubing while an attempt was being made to insert a chest drain eight years ago.

The Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin admitted liability in the case.

Her father Coilin Ó Scolai was close to tears in the High Court as he read a statement about the long and painful journey and the “long and arduous legal battle to uncover the truth” of how this happened to their daughter.

“This has been a very long and painful journey that could have been avoided. Something needs to change," he said.

He told Mr Justice Paul Coffey: "We were lied to from the moment Laoise died and continued to be lied to for many years after her death. In our opinion they cared about Laoise until the moment she died, then they cared more about the reputation of the Coombe Hospital."

He said for the next number of weeks, months and years, Laoise’s own life history was changed.

The family were told she had been the weaker twin, however, he claimed they were told she had been the stronger of the two when the babies were born.

“It was particularly galling to us that Laoise’s short life of 42 hours and 27 minutes was now being rewritten. This was cruel and unforgivable,” he said in the statement on behalf of himself and his wife Irene Kavanagh.

Mr Ó Scolai said the way in which their family was treated after their baby’s death and “the betrayal of trust was extraordinarily shocking”.

“It continues to be a great source of distress to us and compounded our suffering at a time when we were already trying to cope with the death of our daughter and to grieve,” he told the judge.

“When they pierced her heart, they broke ours, our little girl who we wanted for so long and loved so dearly was dead.”

Mr Ó Scolai said the couple, of Drimnagh, Dublin, found themselves in a legal process because “we could not get to the truth of what actually happened to Laoise, and it took tremendous fight on our part to get to that truth”.

Gruelling fight

He added: “Even after we got to some truth at the inquest it still took four months to admit liability, again adding to our pain and suffering.  Then, even after admission of liability, we were told that we had to prove that we were affected by our baby’s death. The cruelty of their actions we can never forgive.”

Laoise’s parents said the legal process was also a harsh and gruelling fight.

Mr Ó Scolai said that had the hospital “held up their hands at the beginning, admitted their wrongdoing and assured us that this would never happen again, we would have been saved of this pain and torment”.

He added it would have allowed them “to move forward, to grieve our daughter a lot sooner”.

Instead, he said it has taken eight years to get to this point.

“This has been a very long and painful journey that could have been avoided. Something needs to change,” he concluded.

He said they have watched Laoise’s twin brother, Cuán, grow up to be a strong, athletic, healthy boy.

“We always wonder what Laoise would have been like today. Would she look like him, have his personality, his cheeky smile? It is also a constant reminder that she is not here,” he said.

Their solicitor, Stuart Gilhooly SC, told the court the case had been settled for substantial sums. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

Laoise and her twin brother were born by Cesarean-section on January 22nd, 2015. Both developed respiratory distress.

They were diagnosed as having developed a build-up of air in the pleural cavity, and a decision was made to insert a chest drain to relieve pressure on the infant’s heart and lungs.

Laoise deteriorated quickly, and after being transferred to another hospital, she was pronounced dead at 4.45pm on January 24th, 2015.

An inquest into Laoise’s death heard new guidelines have since been introduced at The Coombe Hospital in relation to the particular technique used for the insertion of the drain.

Irene Kavanagh and her husband, Mr Ó Scolai, of Comeragh Road, Drimnagh, Dublin, had sued The Coombe Women and infants University Hospital, Dublin over the death of their daughter on January 24th, 2015.

It was claimed Laoise’s parents were completely devastated by the events that occurred and it was further claimed they were subjected to further breaches of duty in the manner in which they were treated by the hospital following the receipt of the devastating and tragic news.

As a result of Baby Laoise’s death, it was claimed her parents suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more