News Courts

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Further €755,000 for former singer over failure to diagnose cause of headaches

Tim Healy

Published 18/06/2014 | 18:50

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Elaine Lennon

AN award winning part-time opera singer left severely disabled after a failure to properly diagnose the cause of her headaches has been awarded another €755,000 towards her future care needs by the High Court.

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Elaine Lennon (40), who can only speak in a whisper and is confined to a wheelchair, had previously settled her action for damages with an interim payout of €2.39million and a later further payment of €310,000 towards her care needs.

Ms Lennon who lives in Kilbarrack, Dublin will  require 24-hour care for the rest of her life.

The High Court heard previously she would have been fine if a scan of her brain had been carried out in time.

She was 39 weeks pregnant at the time of her injury in 2007, and later gave birth to a baby girl, Claudia.

Through her father John Lennon, Elaine, formerly of Newhaven Bay, Balbriggan, Dublin, brought the action against the HSE and Dr Patrick Mathuna, a GP at Castle Mill Medical Centre, Balbriggan.  Liability was admitted by both defendants.

Yesterday Ms Justice Mary Irvine assessed Ms Lennon's care needs to be in the region of €755,000 for the next three years.

The judge said it was particularly tragic that the injuries had been sustained at a time when Ms Lennon and her partner were about to embark upon life as parents to their daughter Claudia.

The judge said she believed Ms Lennon ought to have access to sufficient funds to enable her to purchase the care required to live a normal life as is reasonably possible over the next three years.

Ms Justice Irvine said she was satisfied the overall total sum allocated in respect of Ms Lennon's care should permit her with some small amount of planning to enjoy a very good quality of life having regard to her disabilities over the next three years.

In the action, it was alleged Ms Lennon  arrived at the accident and emergency in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth, on February 4, 2007 complaining of headaches.

She was diagnosed by a medical registrar as suffering from a urinary tract infection and dehydration, it was claimed.  As she was pregnant, she was assessed by a midwife and later underwent a Caesarean section.

Doctors at the hospital twice queried whether she should have a CT scan of her brain but no scan was carried out and she was discharged on February 11 along with her baby, it was claimed.

She continued to suffer from headaches and was vomiting and attended Dr Mathuna's clinic on February 14 when she was given an injection which worked for around 24 hours.  Dr Mathuna called to her on February 17, told her he believed she could be suffering with post-natal depression and exhaustion and prescribed a sedative, it was claimed.

Later that day, she collapsed at home and was taken to hospital. A CT scan carried out the next day revealed an abscess in her brain had burst.

It was alleged the HSE, as operator of the hospital, was negligent in failing to carry out the CT scan when she first went to hospital and carried it out too late on the second admission.

It was alleged Dr Mathuna was negligent by wrongly diagnosing her symptoms as pregnancy related and in failing to refer her to the hospital having regard to her history of repeated headaches and unsteadiness on her feet.

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