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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 18 February, 2019
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Hospital apologises after man settles case against HSE and doctor who delivered him for €4.1 million

Cerebral palsy sufferer Andrew Whelan took a legal action through his mother against the gynaecologist who delivered Andrew 22 years ago.

3131138743_10e6fe4891_b Source: William Murphy

Updated 20.20

THE HOSPITAL IN which a young man who suffers from cerebral palsy was delivered 22 years ago has apologised ‘unreservedly’ for the treatment there that led to his injuries.

The High Court today approved an interim payment of €4.1 million as settlement of a medical negligence action brought on behalf of the now 22-year-old brain-damaged man.

The settlement was made in favour of Andrew Whelan who will require full time care and special accommodation for the rest of his life.

This evening the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group issued an apology on behalf of Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise:

“On behalf of the HSE and the management and staff at the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise, we wish to express our deepest and unreserved apologies for the failings that caused the injuries to Andrew Whelan and the consequent trauma experienced by him and his family,” the statement reads.

The hospital sincerely regrets the tragic consequences of these failings and the suffering that they have caused to the Whelan family.
We fully understand that neither this apology, nor the financial compensation granted by the court, can undo the suffering experienced by the family.

In his action seeking damages arising out of the circumstances of his birth it was claimed a delay in delivering Andrew had caused his injuries.

Through his mother Mrs Angela Whelan, of Church View, Nurney, Co Kildare Andrew sued the HSE and Dr John Patrick Corristine, an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist who then practised at Portlaoise General Hospital, for negligence arising out of the circumstances of his birth on 5 August 1993.

Damages

Counsel for Mr Whelan, Andrew Denis McCullough SC, said the settlement was against both defendants. The action was due to be heard as an assessment of damages only, but following talks the parties reached a settlement which includes an interim payment of €4.1 million to Andrew plus his legal costs.

The settlement is to cover costs including the provision of ongoing care, aids and appliances for Andrew over the next 10 years.

Paul McGinn BL for the defendants said his side was consenting to the settlement.

The settlement was approved by Mr Justice Anthony Barr, who agreed to adjourned the matter until February 2026. The Judge said he had no hesitation in approving the settlement.

In a statement issued through her solicitor Mr Noel Sheridan Mrs Whelan said while money “cannot repair Andrew’s brain or enable him to walk” the settlement will “at least improve his quality of life and remove some of the families worries for his future care”.

Severe disabilities

Mrs Whelan said in her statement that because of what had happened to him Andrew had been “denied an opportunity of living a healthy, active and normal working life”. She also asked why had it taken some eight years for Andrew’s case to be resolved.

In the action against the HSE and Dr Corristine it was claimed that Mrs Whelan was referred to Portlaoise Hospital after becoming pregnant in late 1992. Her estimated due date was 12 July 1993. She was not admitted until 4 August and Andrew was delivered by caesarean section the following day, 5 August 1993.

She claimed the defendants were negligent for causing her to go 24 days beyond her estimated due date, and for failing to deliver Andrew within 14 days of his estimated due date.

It was also alleged the defendants delayed in the delivery of Andrew and failed to respond to the presence of abnormalities during his mother’s labour.

It was also alleged the defendants failed to to respond to the signs of foetal distress in a reasonably timely manner, and failed to recognise the need for, or to call for, medical opinion or intervention in and around the time of Andrew’s birth.

It was further alleged the defendants caused Andrew to suffer chronic partial asphyxia and cerebral palsy. The defendants also allegedly failed to exercise the skill expected from competent doctors and failed to provide reasonable care to his mother.

Counsel told the court it was their case that Andrew’s injuries could have been avoided “with proper care and management”. Counsel told the court Andrew is now a wheelchair-user and his physical and mental disabilities are severe.

Andrew cannot speak but can communicate, by making sounds, with others. He is able to interact with his family and is close to his mother. He had attended school until he was 18 but now spends several days a week at day care, which he enjoys, counsel said.

Counsel said that due to his injuries Andrew has and always will require full-time care. His family believed the settlement was “fair and reasonable in the circumstances”, counsel added.

Additional reporting Cianan Brennan

Originally published 19.36

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