Catastrophic Injury

Family awarded €650k after death of mother in caesarean birth

The family of a woman who died hours after undergoing an emergency caesarean section have settled their action for nervous shock against the maternity hospital.

The High Court heard that the woman, aged 31, had undergone an emergency caesarean while in labour with her son but had died on the operating table within three hours of the baby being delivered in February 2012.

An inquest into her death returned a verdict of death by medical misadventure after it was established that the woman had to wait almost 40 minutes for a blood transfusion after she suffered severe bleeding during the emergency operation.

The cause of death was confirmed by the coroner as cardiac arrest from severe post-partum haemorrhaging.

The inquest had previously heard that a labelling error in the hospital laboratory had led to a 37-minute delay in the woman receiving a transfusion. No emergency supply units of O-negative blood, the universal type, were kept in the theatres.

Counsel for the woman’s husband and son told the court that the baby had been safely delivered but the woman, a first-time mother, had begun to lose large amounts of blood. A request for an emergency transfusion was made just after midnight and the transfusion took place at 12.45am.

Counsel said that the family were too upset to attend the court but were satisfied with the settlement of €650,000. She said the offer had been made without admission of liability. She said the woman’s husband has suffered “profound nervous shock, upset and mental distress” after the death of his wife.

The High Court judge sympathised with the family on their loss and approved the settlement offer. It was also noted that the hospital had indicated new protocols were put in place with regard to blood supply stock.

In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.

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