News Courts

Thursday 28 August 2014

Girl (18) gets €5m settlement after contracting meningitis

Published 28/05/2014 | 14:46

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The woman was awarded €17,908.

An 18-year old girl who is deaf after contractiing meningitis when she was a baby has secured €5million in settlement of her High Court action for damages.

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The settlement of Laura Kavanagh' case against two GPs the High Court heard was without admission of liability.

Her Counsel told Ms Justice Mary Irvine experts on his side would say if Laura was admitted early to hospital when she became ill at thirteen months, it would be expected she would not have developed meningitis. He said Laura who is deaf communicates through sign language and some lip reading also has a moderate intellecutal disability.

Laura Kavanagh,Mountainview Drive, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow had sued Dr Paul Crean and Dr Frank Malone who have a surgery at Whitfield, Church Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to ensure proper care and continuity of care for baby Laura and a failure to attend her in good time particularly in view of the known symptoms and the concerns expressed by Dr Malone in his telephonee conversation with the baby's mother.

It was also alleged there was a failure by Dr Crean to dagnose that Laura was suffering with meningitis or alternatively an alleged failure to attach due weight or concern to the baby's condition and symptoms. The claims were denied and the settlement was without admission of liability.

Senior Counsel Bruce Antoniotti said Laura had developed normally as a baby. On January 29, 1998 when she was thirteen months old, he said Laura was ill with a high temperature and was lethargic and had severe fatigue. Her mother Simone Kavanagh rang GP, Frank Malone  and Counsel said the doctor asked the mother if the baby had a rash and to watch out for it. When her daughter's condition worsened Ms Kavanagh rang the doctors practice again and spoke to GP Paul Crean.

Counsel said the doctor was told of the child's high temperature and that light appeared to be hurting her eyes. The doctor  asked if she had transport to bring her to the surgery and she said she did not. The doctor agreed to come to the house when he had finished surgery.

Three and a half hours after the call, Counsel said Dr Crean came to the Kavanagh home and diagnosed a bowel infection and left two suppositories.

The child Counsels aid slept and the next day on January 30 Ms Kavanagh rang the doctors practice again and was told it would be at least three hours before a doctor could see her.

Counsel said the mother later thought her child had improved and rang the doctor practie to convey that and the call out was cancelled.

"That was her lay opinion of the situation. The mother has been blaming herself ever since,Counsel said.

The next day on January 31st, 1998, Counsel said Laura was no better and had a high ptich scream and the mother thought of meningitis. A doctor on call at the doctors practice had the child admitted to hosptial immeditely .

On admission to hosptial it was found the child had severe meningitis and critically ill.

Approving the settlement Ms Justice Mary Irvine said it was "simply irresistible" but money would never give Laura the life she was meant to have.

Laura's mother Simnone Kavanagh todlt e court the familyh had "been in hell and back".

"When Laura became sick a part of me died. We can't have a conversation. I thought it was a bowel infection," she said.

Irish Independent

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