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You Know What I Mean…

Readers will have seen reference HERE to a plea in a medical negligence case as to the meaning of a “consent” signed by the patient (who was having an operation to make her sterile).

In Fitzpatrick v National Maternity Hospital [2008] IEHC 62 the Defendant claimed that the mother (in labour) declined an episiotomy or a forceps-assisted birth (leading to the damage to the infant). The court rejected this plea, and rejected the evidence of the Defendant, intended to evidence it.

In fact the evidence from the defendant was unequivocal; it alleged the parents had each rejected the offered treatment in circumstances where the staff said…

“…they could not be responsible for the consequences for her or her baby.”

… if the mother did not agree to the proposed actions.

The court said:

“I find on the evidence that Senior Midwife O’Dwyer did not, nor did Dr. Wiza, nor indeed did Staff Midwife Murphy (though on the evidence it was hardly her place to do so given the presence of the others) explain the severity of the plaintiff’s condition to either Mrs. Fitzpatrick or Mr. Fitzpatrick at any time prior to the birth of the plaintiff. I cannot imagine how it could be legitimately stated that this couple were extremely difficult to deal with in labour. I have already found that they were encouraged to and did formulate a birthplan which was given to and discussed with Staff Midwife Murphy on Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s admission to the labour ward, who then brought Senior Midwife O’Dwyer into the discussion.”