Up to date statistics from a conference held on the 21st of September, 2018 by the State Claims Agency (SCA) on patient safety confirmed that medical negligence cases relating to maternity care make up more than half of the payouts made by the State.

Dr. Peter McKenna, Clinical Director of the HSE’s National women and infant health programme said that preventable brain damage in normally formed infants is the “single biggest risk” in the health service. Dr. McKenna said that such injuries are “the most egregious insult the health service can cause to a service user.”  He commented that between 2010 and 2014 the average medical negligence payout increased by 44 per cent but in maternity case it increased by 80 per cent.  Dr. McKenna said that there is an onus on the health service to investigate as early as possible how these injuries are caused during childbirth.

From my experience in dealing with medical negligence cases both from sub-standard care of the mother and catastrophic birth defects to her baby, it is crucial that the management of a woman’s pregnancy by her obstetric team be closely and carefully monitored during her pregnancy to ensure that any problems are diagnosed quickly and managed properly. This level of care must continue through to the birth to ensure that any issues are dealt with speedily and effectively.  Prompt interventions must be made by clinicians if there are signs of distress during childbirth. 

Regrettably, this standard of care is not always provided to women during childbirth.  As a result a mother can suffer from unnecessary complications that could have been avoided. Injuries such as placenta abruption, poorly repaired episiotomy and damage to internal organs during a caesarean section occur all too frequently in our maternity hospitals.  Medical errors and negligence either during gestation or labour can result in permanent injuries to a newborn baby. Childbirth injuries such as Erbs palsy/brachial plexus, cerebral palsy and hip dysplasia are all common injuries resulting in medical negligence claims. 

Patricia Hynes is a Solicitor in the Litigation Department of FitzGerald Solicitor’s Cork and advises and represents clients in relation to all aspects of litigation, including, Personal Injuries Litigation and Medical Negligence Litigation.

Contact Patricia Hynes and Annette Sheehan who also advises in relation to Medical Negligence Litigation at FitzGerald Solicitors at 353 (0)21 4279800 or

trishhynes@fitzsols.com and annettesheehan@fitzsols.com if you would like more information.


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

Leave a reply