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Birth Injury News

Birth Scar Compensation of €65,000 paid Boy (8)

Posted: February 10th, 2018

A birth scar compensation settlement of €65,000 has been approved for a boy, now aged eight years old, who allegedly sustained a facial injury when he was born at the Coombe Hospital.

The boy, Dara Brennan, it believed to have sustained the injury to his face during an attempted forceps delivery.

Dara experienced scarring to his cheek and two indentations on the right side of his face that remain to this day. The Court was told that both of these are clearly visible when he smiles.

Taking the compensation action on behalf of her son, Lorraine Brennan, of Brayton Park, Kilcock, Co Kildare, sued the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital due to the negligence experienced during his (Dara’s) birth on November 12, 2009.

It was claimed that alleged improper use of forceps at the time of his delivery inflicted the scars the right side of Dara’s face. Legal representatives for the boy said that there was a failure to exercise the necessary care, competence, judgment and skill required during the delivery.

Additionally, it was alleged that a more senior doctor in obstetrics should have been called to attend the birth. Counsel for the Coombe Hospital denied these claims.

Dara’s legal team advised the court that liability in the case was fully contested in the case. They added that medical experts on all sides could not agree on all aspects in relation to the incident.

In approving the birth injury compensation settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross said that it was as near to full compensation as possible.

Irish Woman Speaks at EMA Hearing on Use of Epilim to Treat Epilepsy

Posted: January 23rd, 2018

Karen Keely, a Co Meath mother of three sons who have experienced illness due to use of the Epilepsy treatment drug Epilim, has given evidence at the European Medicines Agency review into its use.

Last September (2017) Ms Keely, a member of the Foetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome Forum advised the review hearing of the difficulties her sons have gone through over the course of their lives.

Ms Keely said: “Two of my three boys require life-long care and will never live a normal life, will never be able to have children or get married. The effects of sodium valproate have been unbearable.

“I have been mourning my children since the day they came into my life and I’m determined to not let this injustice happen to other families in the same way that it has happened to mine.”

Ms Keely also said one of the problems was that some patients on valproate long term may get the medicine in a plastic bag. She called for a national register to be established in Ireland of those who were treated with the medicine and people who are being prescribed it in the future.

She also said that more research into the scale of the problem and accountability needs to be completed. Ms Keely said the HSE had details online but wider publicity was needed to spread the word.

The public hearing saw speakers from six EU Member States recounting their experience to the members of the PRAC (Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee). Epilim has been acknowledged to cause physical deformities, brain damages and autism in children whose mothers are prescribed it during their pregnancy. It is currently being implicated in 40 cases of birth defects and disabilities, reported to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) in recent times.

Following the completion of the review, initiated on 9 March 2017 at the request of the French medicines regulator ANSM, by the European Medicines Agency is it expected that the HRPA will meet to review the use of Epilim in Ireland by medical professionals.

Class Action Against Drug Causing Foetal Defects

Posted: April 13th, 2017

A class action for the side effects of sodium valproate has been started in France on behalf of children who sustained foetal valproate syndrome in the womb.

Sodium valproate is an active ingredient of the widely used anti-epilepsy drug sold under the trade name Epilim in Ireland, manufactured by French firm Sanofi. Introduced in Ireland in 1987, the drug was initially used in France for epilepsy and bipolar disorder for almost twenty years. The active ingredient stabilises electrical activity in the brain. More recently, the drug has also been successfully prescribed for migraine and chronic pain.
In the 1980s, it was first identified pregnant women taking Epilim break down the sodium valproate, causing it to be absorbed into the bloodstream as valproic acid. The valproic acid can then be transferred to the unborn child in the womb, where it can have an adverse effect on foetal development. A wide range of health issues have been identified in children exposed to valproic acid, including autism and spina bifida, and from a cleft palate to kidney development problems.

In spite side effects of sodium valproate during pregnancy were identified before the drug was introduced in Ireland, it was still cleared for use by pregnant women by health authorities. It is claimed that evidence linking the drug to birth defects was allegedly covered up due by the company as it was not deemed sufficiently “conclusive”. Small scale studies conducted in France had failed to prove a indisputable link between Epilim and the side effects of sodium valproate during pregnancy. However, since 2006, when Sanofi publicly announced the link between congenital birth defects and their drug, France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) has looked deeper into the issue.

ANSM researched the health of 8,701 children born between 2007 and 2014 whose mothers were known to have taken Epilim (sold as Depakine in France) during their pregnancies. The agency believes it has identified up to 4,100 children suffering from the side effects of sodium valproate. Tragically, it discovered that hundreds of stillbirths during the period were also attributable to foetal valproate syndrome.

The results of ANSM´s research have prompted a class action by parents of children affected by the drug against in France against the manufacturer Sanofi. The parents of the children claim that Sanofi did not do enough to warn the medical profession of the risks associated with taking Epilim during pregnancy and the side effects of sodium valproate, and had made large-scale attempts to cover up the evidence of any link.
 In Ireland, it is not known how many children have been diagnosed with foetal valproate syndrome. A support group – the FACS Forum – has called on the government to conduct an audit to identify the scale of the problem in Ireland and what support measures are needed for families. For further information, the FACS Forum can be reached via the website, or you can speak with a solicitor.

Multi-Million Settlement for Cerebral Palsy

Posted: May 7th, 2016

The High Court of Dublin have awarded a teenage girl a final seven-figure settlement of compensation because of injuries she sustained due to a delay in her delivery.

Mary Malee, now aged sixteen from Mayo, was born with damage to her brain on the 11th October 1999 at the Mayo General Hospital. Despite medical professionals dedicating a slow heartbeat, there was a delay of eighty minutes in her delivery because of a lack of available consultants. As such, by the time the emergency Caesarean section was carried out, Mary had been deprived of oxygen.

Mary was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and is reliant on a wheelchair for movement. Acting on her daughter’s behalf, Maura Malee made a claim for birth injury compensation against the Health Service Executives and Mayo General Hospital. In the claim, she alleged that – had a consultant been made available upon the initial diagnosis of a foetal distress – there would not have been a delay in Mary’s delivery and she would not have sustained her injuries.

A €1.5 million interim settlement of compensation was awarded by Ms Justice Mary Irvine in March 2014. The case was then adjourned for two years in anticipation of the introduction of new legislation that would facilitate structured, periodic payments. However, no such system was introduced and the Malees returned to the High Court for the approval of a final €5.56 million compensation settlement.

At the hearing, which was overseen by Mr Justice Peter Kelly, a representative for Mayo General Hospital read an apology to Mary, which expressed regret for “the many challenges that you have faced as a result of the treatment provided to your mother Maura at the time of your birth”. The settlement of cerebral palsy compensation was then approved by Judge Kelly.

The judge also commended Mary for her heroism in dealing with the challenges of her condition. After the announcement of the settlement, Mary commented to a press reporter that “Cerebral palsy won’t kill me but I have to learn to live with it … it’s for life. This shouldn’t have happened to me and others like me. Justice has been done and I’m bringing closure to this, we can move on with our lives”.

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