Orpen Franks Solicitors
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Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme

A symphysiotomy is a surgical procedure in which the cartilage of the pubic symphysis is divided to widen the pelvis in childbirth.

The procedure is rarely now performed in developed countries, but it is still routine in countries where caesarean section is not always an option.

The procedure brings with it a number of considerable risks, including urethral and bladder injury, infection, pain and ongoing walking difficulties.

 

Diagram of a pelvis

The black area marked by a “5” is the pubic symphysis, which is divided during the
procedure (Ref.: Wikipedia)

 

It is believed that between 1944 – 1984 approximately 1,500 women in Ireland unknowingly and without consent underwent a symphysiotomy and/or pubiotomy during childbirth. Concerns regarding symphysiotomy and pubiotomies and the long term effects of the procedure emerged in the public domain in 2001.

In 2002 a number of survivors set up an advocacy group for victims entitled Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SoS). In March 2012 Olivia Kearney, who was subjected to a post caesarean section symphysiotomy was awarded €325,000 in damages by the Irish courts. This decision represented the first public condemnation by an arm of the State with regards to the practice of symphysiotomy in Ireland.

The Government has announced an ex-gratia redress scheme for women who underwent a symphysiotomy and/or pubiotomy.

The closing date for applications to the Surgical Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme is 5th December 2014. This time frame may be extended in limited circumstances.

This Scheme has three categories of redress as follows:

a) An award of €50,000 where a woman had a surgical symphysiotomy but where she did not suffer from any significant disability as a result of it

b) An award of €100,000 where a woman had a surgical symphysiotomy and suffered from significant disability as a result of it. In addition any woman who had a pubiotomy will be entitled to an award of €100,000

c) An award of €150,000 where a surgical symphysiotomy was performed after the delivery of a baby. A woman who had a pubiotomy and has suffered from significant disability as a result will also be entitled to an award of €150,000

Legal fees relating to the application through the Scheme will be discharged by the State.

If you require further assistance or advice in relation to this matter please contact Rachael Liston:

Tel.:+353 1 637 6200

Email:law@orpenfranks.ie

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