€690,000 award for girl (7) in birth negligence claim
THE High Court has approved a settlement of €690,000 to a young girl for alleged medical negligence arising out of the care she received prior to and during the months following her birth.
The award was made in favour of Aisling Lenehan (7) who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and heart problems following her birth in Sligo in December 2004.
Through her mother Patricia Lynch, Aisling sued the HSE, and Our Ladies Children's Hospital, Crumlin, seeking damages for alleged medical negligence for failing to diagnose and treat Aisling in a timely fashion. Liability was not admitted.
In a statement following today’s ruling, Ms Lynch said she was delighted and relieved that "the ordeal was over." The case, which started four weeks ago, she said was "a game of high stakes poker."
She said that had the family lost the action they "could have lost everything", including their home. However as a result of the settlement they could now achieve things that would hugely improve the quality of Aisling's life.
She expressed her gratitude to her lawyers and those within the legal system who had come to the family's aid when "Aisling and I most needed it." The system worked for us although I do have grave reservations about the manner in which the HSE engaged with the system, she added.
In the action, it was claimed there was a five month delay before Aisling, who attended at both Sligo General Hospital and Our Ladies hospital in Crumlin, received a cardiology review. There was a delay in commencing Aisling on the appropriate medication, it was submitted.
This, it was claimed, caused her to develop severe pulmonary hypertension, a severe condition which effects the heart and is irreversible.
It was alleged the defendants failed to treat or care for Aisling properly.
It was alleged the defendants also failed to diagnose that Aisling had silent aspirations, a condition where food/liquids/stomach contents enter into the lungs, without that person showing any visible signs of discomfort such as, coughing choking or turning red turning red.
It was also alleged that the defendants failed to diagnose in a timely manner that Aisling had 'Hiatus Hernia' a condition which a portion of the upper stomach slips through the diaphragm and up into the chest result in painful heartburn.
Both those conditions, which it was claimed were diagnosed after a two year delay, exacerbated her pulmonary hypertension.
It was also claimed the defendants failed to arrange an expedited appointment for Aisling with a cardiologist. It was further alleged that the HSE failed to diagnose her Down Syndrome and her heart condition prior to her birth.
Aisling will require medication and care for the rest of her life.
The defendants had denied the claims and the action was settled without admission of liability. The settlement was approved yesterday by the President of High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, who praised the family for their dedication and the level of care they have provided to date for Aisling.
The Judge added that in the circumstances Aisling had received a good settlement. Had they lost they case they would have come away with nothing.
The court heard that the family, who currently reside in Austrian capital Vienna, hope to return to Ireland.