HSE and hospital apologise for substandard care as boy’s case settles for €9m

Scales of Justice - Conflict of Interest and Expert Witness

15 December 2022

The HSE and University Maternity Hospital, Limerick, have apologised to the parents of a 13-year-old boy who suffered a brain injury at birth.

Harry David Kavanagh cannot speak, has cerebral palsy, is profoundly physically disabled and requires 24-hour care, the High Court heard on Tuesday.

The letter of apology was read to the court as the boy from Castletroy, Limerick, settled for €9 million his legal action against the HSE.

In the letter, the HSE and the hospital expressed “sincere apologies” to the Kavanagh family for the circumstances surrounding Harry’s birth on January 25th, 2009.

“The care provided to you fell below the standard expected and I fully acknowledge the hurt and pain this has caused and the many challenges that you as a family have faced and will continue to face as a result,” the letter said.

The letter to Harry’s parents Olwyn and David Kavanagh was signed by chief operations officer of the UL Hospitals Group, Noreen Spillane.

Harry’s counsel, Liam Reidy SC, instructed by Maurice Power Solicitors, told the court that liability was admitted in the case.

Harry, he said, suffered a significant brain injury in utero. He said experts on their side would say that there was a failure to recognise a pathological trace on monitoring of the baby’s heart rate. Counsel said his side would say that Harry’s brain injury occurred in the last half-hour before birth.

Mr Reidy said Harry’s parents had cared for him for the last 13 years and his mother gave up her career to look after her son

Counsel said the Kavanaghs were happy with the settlement and they wanted finality to the legal process.

Harry had through his mother sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth at University Maternity Hospital, of Ennis Road.

It was claimed there was a failure to carry out proper monitoring of Ms Kavanagh and her unborn baby.

There was also an alleged failure to recognise a seriously abnormal foetal heart rate pattern indicating that the baby was being stressed by increasing hypoxia.

When the baby was born he was in an unexpectedly poor condition, was discoloured and did not cry. He had no respiratory effort and required intubation and ventilation for resuscitation.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was a very good one. He conveyed his best wishes to Harry and his parents.

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