HSE agrees €2.4m payout over damage to boy's brain
A boy left severely brain-damaged after a failure to diagnose and treat a bacterial infection has settled his High Court action with an interim payout of €2.4m.
Eoghan Dunne, of Cappyroe, Ballinagar, Tullamore, Co Offaly, had sued the HSE through his mother Teresa as a result of the failings in his care at Portiuncula Hospital, Co Galway.
A few weeks short of his first birthday, Eoghan was brought to the A&E of Portiuncula Hospital with a fever. He was also breathless and lethargic.
The boy's counsel, Bruce Antoniotti, told the High Court that Eoghan should have been given antibiotics straight away.
He was taken to the hospital around 16.40pm on August 3, 2012. A note at 6pm recorded that the baby was to commence intravenous antibiotics but this did not occur at that time.
The court heard that Eoghan's condition deteriorated and he was in "severe respiratory distress" after midnight. At this stage, counsel said, seven hours after he had arrived at the hospital, broad-spectrum antibiotics were suggested.
Counsel would argue that the antibiotics should have been administered as soon as the baby arrived at the hospital.
Mr Antoniotti said his side could not say that no damage would have occurred if that had happened, but any damage may have been minor.
Eoghan was transferred to Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin and at 6.45am on August 4, 14 hours after he had arrived at Portiuncula, he suffered a cardiac arrest.
He was diagnosed as suffering from a severe necrotising pneumonia and sepsis with multi-organ failure.
The court heard that Eoghan, now aged four, has cerebral palsy, cannot walk or stand unaided and has to be fed through a peg tube.
Counsel said Portiuncula Hospital general manager James Keane, had sincerely apologised in a letter to Eoghan's parents, Teresa and Ronan Dunne, for the failings in the care provided.
He wrote: "I do not underestimate how traumatic this has been for you both and the many challenges that your family has faced as a result of the treatment provided to Eoghan."
The court heard that full liability was admitted this week.
In an emotional statement read to the court, Teresa Dunne described the pain that her son had endured over the past four years as "unbelievable".
She added: "I will never see my son take his first steps or fall in love but he has a family who love him."
Approving the interim payment for the next four years, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said that litigation was sometimes the only way families like the Dunnes could achieve justice.
Speaking outside the court, Eoghan's father, Ronan, said the failures in care had a "catastrophic impact" on his son.