Wednesday 26 October 2016

Girl (7) who suffered brain damage due to water on brain settles court action for €2.4m

Tim Healy

Published 10/06/2015 | 17:41

Ava Kiernan
Ava Kiernan

A GIRL who as a baby suffered brain damage due to water on the brain has settled her High Court action for €2.4million.

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A judge previously found the water on the brain condition which caused damage to Ava Kiernan (now 7) would have been detected if a public health nurse had taken appropriate action during regular check ups of the baby.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross ruled there was a a failure on  the part of the nurse to record the concerns of Ava's mother and to properly record the head circumference at 46.5cm.  There was also a failure to have the child recalled in a few weeks for a further examination.

Another judge today approved an interim €2.4million settlement in Ava's case .

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty was told the case had been settled on the basis of the interim payout covering the next ten years.

Ava  through her mother Ruth Kiernan of Cillcarbin, Duleek , Co Meath had sued the HSE for negligence claiming her serious neurological symptoms were attributable to hydrocephalus - water on the brain.

This was caused  caused by the failure to detect the condition prior to its causing significant damage, it was claimed.

The HSE denied the claims but said there was an incorrect head circumference measurement recorded on September 8, 2008.

The court found the HSE liable in relation to two check ups but not a check up when the baby was three months old.

The public health nurse,  who was only referred to as R,  was unfit to attend court  or give evidence in the case.

In a statement to the court, Ava's father Andrew Kiernan  said the settlement marked the beginning of a new life for their daughter, who has spent far too much time in hospital undergoing  medical interventions and tests.

"As a family the last seven years have been extremely difficult and we are delighted to be standing here  in a position where we can finally put the pressure and stress that this case has brought behind us.

"This court has proven to us all that numerous mistakes were made in the care and attention that Ava received as a baby."

He added: "Unfortunately, when mistakes are made in the medical profession, somebody suffers as a result.

"It is disgraceful to think that having suffered at the hands of mistakes, families must then suffer even further stress and heartache in order to uncover the truth and secure the future care needs of their children."

He also said there was a the lack of candour by the medical profession in Ireland and, in this case, by the HSE and the State Claims Agency.

He said the family had been "forced to put our lives and the lives of our children in an extremely perilous position so that we can understand why Ava suffered her injuries and to secure the services and care that she will no doubt need for the rest of her life."

Mr Kiernan said it was unacceptable that the HSE and the State Claims Agency "can deny liability for Ava’s injuries and can take our family to the brink of the Court of Appeal knowing the evidence before them, the suffering Ava has to endure and the impact on our wider family."

He said the family sincerely hope that lessons have been learned as a result of Ava’s case.

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