€5m awarded to woman left deaf by meningitis
An 18-year-old Newtownmountkennedy woman who is deaf after contacting meningitis as a 13-month-old baby has been awarded €5 million in a High Court settlement.
Laura Kavanagh, through her mother Simone Kavanagh, Mountainview Drive, Newtownmountkennedy, sued Dr. Paul Crean and Dr. Frank Malone who have a surgery at Whitfield, Church Road, Greystones. Her settlement against the two GPs was without admission of liability.
Simone Kavanagh told the court that her family 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.'
Laura is deaf and communicates through sign language and some lip reading. She also has a moderate intellectual disability.
It was alleged there was failure to ensure proper care and continuity of care for the plaintiff and a failure to attend her in good time, particularly in view of the known symptoms and concerns expressed by Dr Malone in his telephone conversation with the baby's mother.
It was also alleged there was a failure by Dr Crean to diagnose that Laura was suffering with meningitis or alternatively failure to attach due weight or concern to the baby's condition and symptoms.
Bruce Antoniotti, Counsel for Laura, said she had developed normally as a baby, however she became ill on January 29 in 1998 when she had a high temperature, was lethargic and also had severe fatigue.
Simone Kavanagh rang Dr. Malone and he asked if the baby had a rash and to watch for it.
She rang again and spoke to Dr. Crean when Laura's condition worsened. Counsel said the doctor was told that the child had a high temperature and light appeared to be hurting her eyes.
When he was told by the mother that she had no transport, he agreed to come to the family home when he had finished surgery.
Three and a half hours after the call, Dr. Crean arrived and diagnosed a bowel infection. He left two suppositories for her.
The next day the child slept and Simone was told after ringing the surgery that it would take at least three hours before a doctor could see her.
She later thought the child had improved and contacted the surgery to inform them. The call-out was subsequently cancelled.
'That was her lay opinion of the situation. The mother has been blaming herself ever since,' Mr. Antoniotti informed the court.
The next day Laura didn't appear to be any better and had a high-pitched scream. An on call doctor had her admitted to hospital immediately and she was found to have severe meningitis.
While approving the €5m settlement, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said no amount of money would ever give Laura back the life she was meant to have.