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Brain damage birth boy (13) is awarded €2.5m

A 13-YEAR-old boy who is brain damaged and has to use a wheelchair has settled an action for alleged medical negligence for €2.5m against a GP.

It was claimed in the High Court that when Enda Brien's mother, Jenny, was 37 weeks pregnant, she suddenly developed severe pain under her left ribs and was diagnosed with lower back pain and given painkillers by her GP.

But within 12 hours, her placenta had come away and by the time the baby was born he was brain damaged.


The settlement was against Dr Patrick O'Brien with a practice at Kiltormer, Co Galway. It was without admission of liability.

Enda, of Derrew, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, sued Dr O'Brien through his mother. Proceedings against the HSE had been earlier dismissed.

It was claimed Dr O'Brien failed to admit Mrs Brien to hospital on January 6, 2001 when she presented at his surgery.

It was further alleged that he provided a standard of care to Mrs Brien that was inadequate and/or unreasonable.

Dr O'Brien denied the claims and contended he was entitled to diagnose back pain and that low back pain was common in the last trimester.

Bruce Antoniotti SC, for Mrs Brien, said she had developed a sudden and excruciating pain on her left side under her ribs.

She went to Dr Brien, who used an instrument to examine her, put his hand on her abdomen and patted his hand.

"That was the extent of the examination," counsel said.

The GP's notes are very sparse and there was "an extremely brief note" on the January 6 visit by Mrs Brien.

Dr O'Brien diagnosed low back pain and prescribed an anti-inflammatory injection and painkilling tablets.

He told Mrs Brien the pain would go after a few days, but "would get worse before it got better".

Mrs Brien and her husband relied on that advice, but when she went home she was in extreme pain and it did not ease.

Twelve hours later, at 4.30am, there was a sudden rush of fluid and Mrs Brien first thought her waters had broken and then discovered blood all over the floor.

Counsel said Mrs Brien's placenta had abrupted and come away, depriving the baby of blood, nutrients and oxygen.


The Briens were 20km from Portiuncla Hospital in Ballinasloe and had to drive on icy roads.

When they arrived, midwives at once realised what was wrong and did everything they could to help.

Enda was born 32 minutes later, but was brain damaged.

Mr Justice Michael White said he hoped the settlement will alleviate the difficult situation Enda and his family have found themselves in, and praised Mr and Mrs Brien for the love and care they give to their son.