Posted: May 6th, 2015
A High Court judge has approved a €2.1 million interim settlement of compensation after hearing of birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon.
In April, the State Claims Agency´s clinical risk advisor – Mary Godfrey – called for national guidelines to be introduced for the use of Syntocinon during labour to improve outcomes for mothers and babies. Ms Godfrey´s appeal came after the Agency released a report showing an alarming lack of consistency in the way Syntocinon is used in maternity units throughout Ireland.
Syntocinon is the brand name of oxytocin – a synthetic drug frequently used in maternity units to induce labour and accelerate contractions. For many expectant mothers it speeds up childbirth, helps the womb to contract after their child has been born and prevents excessive bleeding. However, Syntocinon can also cause adverse reactions with other medication and escalate foetal distress when an infant is deprived of oxygen in the womb.
A little over two weeks after Ms Godfrey raised concerns about the use of Syntocinon, a case came before the High Court concerning how a young boy – Patrick Brannigan of Castleblayeny, County Monaghan – suffered birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon at Cavan General Hospital in 2007. Patrick suffers from dyskinetic cerebral palsy, is barely able to communicate and is confined to a wheelchair.
The court heard how, after a CTG trace had shown indications of foetal distress, Syntocinon had been administered to Patrick´s mother – Niamh – to bring forward her labour. However, the increased level of contractions brought on by the drug resulted in Patrick being deprived of oxygen and suffering devastating birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon.
Through his mother Patrick made a claim for compensation for birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon and Cavan General Hospital admitted liability. A €2.1 interim settlement of compensation was negotiated and approved by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court. Judge Cross then adjourned the claim for birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon for three years so that reports can be compiled on Patrick´s future needs.