The family of a baby who was born with Erb’s palsy following negligence of the medical staff involved with his birth has been awarded compensation.
A baby boy was born via a natural delivery on 22nd March 2010 despite his mother having requested a birth by Caesarean section. She had requested such an operation because he had been identified as a large baby following an ultrasound, and she wished to avoid the medical complications which this could cause. As she feared, during the delivery process, the boy´s shoulder got trapped in the birth canal. Staff at the hospital-Kerry General Hospital-had to extract him with the assistance of a vacuum cup.
Due to the force applied to free his shoulder, the boy suffered a brachial plexus injury and has since been diagnosed with Erb´s palsy. As a result of this, the boy has a weak right arm that will permanently affect him for the rest of his life. The family sought legal counsel, and the boy´s father made a claim for an Erb´s palsy birth injury against the HSE on his son´s behalf.
The authority in charge of the hospital, the Health Service Executive (HSE) initially denied liability for the boy´s birth injury. period of negotiation agreed to a €530,000 settlement of the claim for an Erb´s palsy birth injury without an admission of liability. As the claim had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the child´s best interests.
The case was recently heard at the High Court in Dublin by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The judge was informed that the boy had been identified as a very large baby approximately two months before his birth following an ultrasound scan. As a result of his size, his mother had requested a Caesarean section delivery on two consultations and again when she was admitted to Kerry General Hospital in labour to avoid potential complications with his birth. However, these requests were subsequently ignored by health authorities.
Judge Cross also heard details about the boy’s life. The child attends mainstream school, and has learned to write with his left hand. He is also very good at maths. An expert witness who examined the boy’s physical strength testified that the boy is unable to tie shoes or close buttons and will struggle at sports, after which the judge approved the settlement of the boy´s claim for an Erb´s palsy birth injury against the HSE and wished the family well for the future.