Court approves €12m settlement over hospital care for girl with brain injuries
Posted on 18th March 2020 at 21:28
The High Court has approved a €12m settlement for a nine-year-old girl with severe brain injuries over negligence in her care at Sligo General Hospital.
Robyn Kilgallon, through her mother, Cabrini Fallon, Caltragh Road, Sligo, sued the HSE arising out of the care she received when brought to Sligo General.
It was claimed there was failure to admit the child and treat her for suspected bacterial infection when she first presented.
It was claimed the failure to admit the child when she first presented allowed the condition to progress unchecked, resulting in her suffering brain damage.
Liability in the action was admitted.
Despite the child being very ill when she first arrived at the hospital, her parents were told to take her home.
Due to her poor condition they returned 24 hours later when the child was put in an intensive care unit before being moved to a specialist children’s hospital in Belfast where which she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, resulting in severe life-lasting brain injuries.
The court heard that on February 1st, 2011 Robyn’s parents took her to the hospital following a referral from the family’s GP who was concerned the child had a viral infection.
Despite presenting at the hospital with symptoms including a high temperature, vomiting, floppy body and eyes rolling in the back of her head, Robyn and her parents were told to go home by a junior doctor.
Her parents said the doctor told them the results of Robyn’s blood tests did not indicate anything to be concerned about and they took her home.
When the child’s condition did not improve, she was readmitted to the hospital on the morning of February 2nd.
On that occasion Robyn was very ill, unresponsive and had a seizure. She was taken to an intensive care unit and incubated.
Her condition was deemed so serious it was decided she needed specialist treatment at a children’s hospital.
As there were no spaces available at Crumlin or Temple Street at that time, the child was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. She spent several days in an isolation unit there where she was diagnosed as having contracted meningococcal meningitis, a form of bacteria that affects the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
Despite the treatment she got in Belfast, she had already suffered significant brain injuries which, it was claimed, was due to the failure to admit and treat her at the Sligo hospital when she first presented.
On Wednesday, Alistair Rutherdale BL, instructed by solicitor Donnacha Anhold, for the child told Mr Justice Kevin Cross the matter had been resolved following a mediation between the parties.
Due to her injuries, Robyn, who will celebrate her 10th birthday later this month, has complex medical and physical needs.
She has significant development delay and difficulty communicating with others and walking, and will require assistance for the rest of her life.
Counsel said, on the balance of probabilities, had Robyn been admitted and properly treated with antibiotics when she first presented at the Sligo hospital, she would not have suffered the catastrophic injuries she sustained.
Due to the coronavirus situation, it was not possible for Robyn and her mother to attend court on Wednesday, counsel said.
Mr Justice Cross approved the settlement and paid tribute to Robyn’s parents for the great work they have been doing on her behalf.
The court was told Robyn’s mother, and father, Declan Kilgallon, plan to move to a new home which will be fitted out to accommodate their child’s requirements.
The judge said he understood it had not been easy for the family but he hoped the resolution of the case and the settlement would help improve Robyn’s quality of life.
Speaking outside court, solicitor Donnacha Anhold read a statement on behalf of the family, stating that the family were very thankful that the HSE had apologised to them last week.
However, it was stated that no communication had been provided to the family in relation to any system changes or measures put in place to help prevent this occurring again.
The family would like such measures to happen in the future, the statement said. The parents also thanked their family and lawyers.
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