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Galway University Hospital apologises after baby is born “head first” on to the floor
Coleman Legal LLP
December 20, 2023
Galway University Hospital apologises for shortcomings in care that led to Baby Chelsie McDonagh's death after she fell headfirst to the floor during delivery.

Galway University Hospital apologises for newborn’s tragic death

Galway University Hospital has issued an apology to the parents of Baby Chelsie McDonagh, who died five months after being born “head first” onto the floor. The incident occurred when Valerie McDonagh, Chelsie’s mother, was asked to get up from her hospital bed while the sheets were changed.

In the apology, which was heard by the High Court, Galway University Hospital acknowledged “shortcomings” in care during Chelsie’s birth while also extending their “deepest sympathies” to the family. These comments were made in the context of the settlement of the parents’ nervous shock suit and Chelsie’s grandfather’s action, which he took on behalf of the family.

The McDonagh’s were represented by Siun Leonowicz BL, as instructed by Coleman Legal LLP solicitors. Ms Leonowicz detailed in court that “the baby hit the floor head first”, despite the mother warning staff that she felt something coming.

On delivery, Baby Chelsie required resuscitation and was subsequently transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit. A CT scan later confirmed she had suffered severe head trauma, including brain swelling and bleeding. Despite efforts, she passed away in August 2020 following complications with her breathing.

The legal action against Saolta University Health Care Group, the hospital’s owner, centred on Mrs McDonagh’s stay at the hospital in March 2020 for the birth of her fourth child. It was alleged that following an examination, she was asked to stand off the bed, leading to the unexpected birth on the floor. Galway university hospital refuted all claims that the level of care for both mother and child had fallen below acceptable standards.

Mrs McDonagh expressed that the loss of her daughter has destroyed not just her life but her entire family’s. Instead of being kept busy caring for her baby, she is mourning at a graveyard. Mr Justice Paul Coffey offered his deepest sympathies to Chelsie’s family, recognising the profound tragedy of the case.

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Clodagh Magennis

Clodagh Magennis

Head of Client Services

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