Sunday 11 December 2016

'I will never see my son take his first steps, play football, go to college, or fall in love' - mum of boy (4) left severely brain damaged after failure to diagnose bacterial infection

Family settled High Court action with an interim payout of €2.4million

Published 28/07/2016 | 18:00

Little Eoghan Dunne was just a few weeks short of his first birthday when he was brought to A&E Portiuncula Hospital
Little Eoghan Dunne was just a few weeks short of his first birthday when he was brought to A&E Portiuncula Hospital

A FOUR-year-old boy left severely brain damaged after a failure to diagnose and treat in time a bacterial infection has settled his High Court action with an interim payout of €2.4million.

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Eoghan Dunne  was just a few weeks short of his first birthday when he was brought to A&E Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, with a fever. He was also breathless and lethargic.

His counsel Bruce Antoniotti told the Court Eoghan should have been given antibiotics straight away as the results of assessments  should have raised  the alarm..

Counsel said the baby was brought to Portiuncla Hospital around 4.40pm on August 3, 2012. A note at 6pm recorded  the baby was to commence intravenous antibiotics but this did not occur at that time.

The baby's condition deteriorated and he was ,  after midnight on August 4 in " severe respiratory distress".

At this stage seven hours after he arrived at the hospital, counsel said, broad spectrum antibiotics were suggested.

Counsel said his side would say the antibiotics should have been administered once the baby arrived at Portiuncla Hospital.

Mr Antoniotti said his side could not say no damage would have occurred if that had happened, but it may have been minor damage, if any.

The baby was transferred to Temple Street Childrens Hospital, Dublin but at this stage he was critically ill and in septic shock.

At 6.45 am on August 4, he  suffered a cardiac arrest  and it took ten minutes to resuscitate him.

He was diagnosed as suffering from a severe necrotising pneumonia and sepsis with multi organ failure.

The court heard he has cerebral palsy, cannot walk or stand unaided and has to be fed through a peg tube. He is also partially blind and can only detect movement.

In a letter to Eoghan's parents, Teresa and Ronan Dunne, the general manager of Portiuncla Hospital, James Keane,  sincerely apologised for the failings in the care provided to Eoghan.

A full HSE review is ongoing in to all aspects of Eoghan's care, Mr Keane said.

"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," he added.

Eoghan, of Cappyroe, Ballinagar, Tullamoe, Co Offaly, through his mother Teresa, sued the HSE as a result of the failings in his care at Portiuncla.

Full liability was admitted in the case this week.

Mrs Teresa Dunne told the court her son had to celebrate his first birthday while in a coma.

"I will never see my son take his first steps, play football, go to college, or fall in love but he has a family who love him who will make sure he had a a good life and we will next week have a party to celebrate his fifth birthday and his life," she said.

She showed a a picture to the court of her son which was taken on August 2 just a day before he became sick.

In a statement read to the court, she described the pain her son had endured over the past four years as "unbelievable" and particularly as a tube had to be inserted so he can  be peg fed.

"He cried and cried  every time. My heart was breaking every time," she said.

She spoke of her shock when her son was transferred to the Dublin hospital and they were told his chances of survival were 50/50. She said she wanted to forgive as well for the "human mistakes made" and she hoped lessons have been learned.

In a statement outside the court, Eoghan's father, Ronan, said the failures in care at Portiuncula had had a "catastrophic impact" on his son's health.

"We are relieved to have reached today's settlement and acknowledge the admission of liability and the apology.

"However, we must add our names to the long list of families who have stood where we stand now and called for change to the system," he said.

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