A 33 year old woman who gave birth to her first child on the 1st of October 2001 in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co. Louth has been awarded €87,400 damages by the High Court.
The woman who suffered a third degree tear to her anal sphincter during the delivery of her child alleged that her injury was inadequately repaired and this caused her to suffer from incontinence. The case ran over 15 days in the High Court in June and July 2011 before Mr. Justice Charleton.
The facts of the case were that on the 30th of September 2001 the Plaintiff went into spontaneous labour and attended at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. Following a failed ventouse her baby was delivered by Neville Barnes forceps. During the delivery the Plaintiff sustained a third degree tear to her anal sphincter. This was recognised by her doctors at the time but was noted as “superficial fibres of the external anal sphincter gone, same sutured”.
The Plaintiff was not advised at the time that she had suffered a third degree tear. During a subsequent pregnancy in 2006 she was advised for the first time by her obstetrician that she had suffered a third degree tear in 2001. Her symptoms worsened during her second pregnancy.
The HSE denied any negligence and pleaded that her injuries were unrelated to the tear and were caused by a condition called pudental nerve neuropathy. The recurring theme for this injury involves multiple births, prolonged second stage of labour and instrumental delivery which results in nerve damage from excessive strain. The Defendants also pleaded that the case was time barred.
The Plaintiff’s experts argued that as she had suffered a third degree tear, best practice regarding the repair of these tears should have been followed. Guidelines produced at the Trial showed that a repair should be done in an operating theatre with adequate lighting and under general or regional anaesthesia.
The Defendants argued that the guidelines were not in place at the time the Plaintiff suffered her injury. The Judge found that these guidelines were very important and that they should have been in place at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital at the time of the birth of the Plaintiff’s son in October 2001. He held that failure to follow those guidelines amounted to negligence.
If you have suffered a birth injury and wish to seek legal advice as to whether your injury was caused as a result of the negligence of your doctors or hospital please contact Liam Moloney, medical Solicitor, in the strictest confidence by calling 045 898000 or simply email Mr. Moloney at firstname.lastname@example.org .