From the Headlines: Medical Care for Babies and Children to be Reviewed

As one of Ireland’s leading medical negligence firms, HOMS Assist has helped families who’ve gone through the toughest of times. While many of these involve a misdiagnosis, cosmetic surgery injuries and incorrect dosages, others are harrowing cases of medical negligence involving babies and young children. 

These tend to be grouped into birth injuries and medical care or surgical injuries, although every case is unique, with individual experiences and effects. 

Birth and gynaecological injuries

Thankfully, the birth process has never been safer, but that’s not to say that mistakes can’t happen. Many of the cases HOMS Assist helps with involve mothers’ birth injuries and related surgeries, including perineal tearing, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, embolisation, laparoscopic, sterilisation and bladder perforation.

Other issues of medical negligence refer to injuries to the baby, which can include cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, forceps injuries, spinal injuries, fractured bones, lack of oxygen and untreated jaundice. However, these are just the most common: there is a wide array of things that can go wrong through the action or inaction of medical professionals at birth.

For example, The Irish Times recently reported on head injuries that a group of newborn babies suffered during delivery. The University Hospital Galway (UHG) has commissioned a review of cases of subgaleal haematoma or haemorrhage which involves bleeding under the skin of a baby’s head. This injury is often associated with difficult births; it’s thought that up to 90% of subgaleal hematomas are the result of applying a vacuum (ventouse) during delivery. While rare, serious ramifications can occur, ranging from brain damage to seizures and even death. 

Thankfully, in the UHG instances, it appears that all the babies affected had been “discharged home well from hospital”, but it is hoped that much can be learned from the planned review to avoid such injuries in the future. If your baby suffered a subgaleal haematoma or haemorrhage or similar birth injury, HOMS Assist can offer advice and guidance if needed.

Children’s medical care

While the vast majority of medical professionals tasked with the care of children carry out their duties with exceptional skill, cases of medical negligence do persist. These can come in the form of poor judgment, failing to diagnose an illness, overdose of prescribed drugs, surgical errors and mistakes and more.

Orthopaedic surgery is the focus of a number of reviews the Health Service Executive (HSE) ordered at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin. Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) reports that the reviews arise from “very serious concerns identified by CHI since last year relating to poor surgical outcomes in spinal surgery at Temple Street, plus the use of a certain spinal technique and the use of unauthorised implantable devices”. 

The 17 patients affected have spina bifida and underwent surgery at various dates stretching back to 2018 — although two particularly serious surgical instances were noted to have occurred in July and September 2022. The surgery was paused in November of that year, with the surgeon concerned ceasing to carry out spinal surgery. “Of the 17 children, one child died since and a number of other children suffered significant post-operative complications,” the news report states. The HSE has also met with two more families, and may well contact more in the future. 

In the report, Gerry Maguire, CEO of Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland (SBHI), raises concerns that the information has been “drip-fed to both SBHI and the families concerned”. Such delays and difficulties in receiving updates on deeply upsetting issues is not unusual, and something HOMS Assist is very adept at handling for its clients.

In such instances, you may wish to get expert advice from experienced medical negligence solicitors like HOMS Assist around how to best liaise with the HSE. 

Increasing instances of medical negligence

Medical negligence claims have been steadily increasing in recent years, with the Irish Independent reporting a 500pc rise in the cost of cases taken against the state since 2010. The paper quotes data from the Department of Health showing that claims went up by €385.7m from €75.3m in 2010 to €461m in 2021, with a further 20pc increase projected for 2022. These figures encompass a range of damages, running from small sums for minor issues to awards running into the millions for life-changing injuries

This demonstrates that while unfortunate, medical negligence (or clinical negligence as it is sometimes known) continues to occur regularly. You may have grounds for a medical negligence claim if you believe you have suffered a personal injury because of an act that was done or omitted to be done by a health professional in their treatment of you. 

If this is the case, it’s vital for your own wellbeing that you secure the services of an experienced, reputable medical negligence solicitor to help you through the challenging process of bringing a claim to court. Some cases take as long as five years to be settled, so you will want to know that you’re in capable hands throughout this period, with minimal pressure and stress on you and your family. 

There is also a strict time limit in which to take a case of medical negligence. This is generally two years from the date of knowledge of the alleged negligence, although when it involves children under eighteen, the two years begins from their eighteenth birthday. Every situation is unique, though, so you shouldn’t delay speaking to an expert who will help lay out your options. 

If you are considering taking a medical negligence claim, we can help you with the next steps. With more than 50 years of experience, HOMS Assist are the trusted experts in the field of medical negligence. Based throughout Ireland, our medical negligence solicitors provide compassionate support and straightforward guidance to parents whose children have suffered medical negligence. While it might seem daunting, we’re here to listen with empathy and help you with practical advice — call us now on 1800207207 or send us an email via our website

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