High Court hears HSE apologise to parents of baby who was still born at Cavan General Hospital

By Ann O'Loughlin

The HSE has apologised in court to a couple for the shortcomings in care which resulted in the death of their baby son at Cavan General Hosptial over eight years ago.

The apology was read out as part of the settlement of two actions for nervous shock taken by the parents of baby Padraig Eugene McArdle-McElroy who was still born at birth at Cavan General Hospital.

In court today, HSE Counsel Brian Foley BL read an apology on behalf of the HSE the RCSI Hospital Group and the staff and management of Cavan General Hospital in which it conveyed sincere apologies "for the shortcoming in management and care" at the time of Padraig's mother's admission to maternity services in June 2009.

The statement added: "We acknowledge that those shortcomings resulted in the death of your baby son Padraig Eugene on June 28, 2009. We extend our sincere apologies for the distress and suffereing that this has caused to both of you and your extended family."

Agnes McArdle and Finbar McElroy, Smithboro, Co Monaghan, had sued the HSE for nervous shock arising out of the death of the their baby son Padraig Eugene on June 28, 2009 at Cavan General Hosptial.

Ms McArdle had self referred to the hospital on June 27, 2009, as she and Mr McElroy were concerned there was little foetal movement.

She was assessed and CTG tracing was commenced. After midnight Ms McArdle was in pain and it was claimed she was left unexamined in the maternity ward for one hour and 40 minutes after being transferred there from the Labour Ward.

She was then transferred back to the Labour Ward and the foetal heart rate was recorded and an ultrasound was carried out. A second scan at 2.30am showed the baby was dead and Ms McArdle subsequently had a caesarean section at around 4.48am.

Padraig's parents claimed they never received a written reply to the letter they later sent to the HSE seeking an explanation of the events.

It was also claimed there was a failure to ensure the foetal heartbeat of the baby would be monitored properly and continuously and that the circumstances surrounding the labour, delivery and death of baby Padraig has been extremely traumatic and shocking.

The couple claimed that when they came back to the hospital to arrange the removal of the baby's remains, they were advised to take him via the service lift to the back entrance of the hospital.

They said that when they said they wanted to take him out the front door, they received a phone call asking them again, if they would prefer to take the remains out the back entrance. They said this added further to their already distraught state.

Senior Cousnel Denis McCullough, with Vincent P Martin SC, told the court the case for nervous shock by the parents had been settled.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross, noting the settlement, extended his sympathies to the McArdle-McElroy family on their sad loss.

Outside court the solicitor for the family, Shane Kennedy, read a statment on behalf of Padraig's parents.

He said Padraig was tragically a full-term still birth born on June 28, 2009 at Cavan General Hospital.

"Of course the clock can't be put back, but Padraig's parents hope no other family has to go through this traumatic loss," he said.

The darkest hour, he said, for Padraig's parents happened on June 28, 2009, and the delay in reaching the conclusion of the case had been "a harrowing experience."

"They hope that a more humane and compassionate way can be put in place to deal with these types of cases," he added.

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