Saturday 21 July 2018

Boy (5) left brain damaged because of failure to diagnose infection when he was a baby, court hears

Dublin's Temple Street Childrens Hospital
Dublin's Temple Street Childrens Hospital

Tim Healy

A FIVE-year-old boy left brain damaged because of a failure to diagnose an infection when he was a baby had sued Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin.

Benjamin Gillick has cerebral palsy, is quadriplegic and cannot speak, his counsel told the High Court.

The court heard he suffered a brain stem injury when he was 11 months old which should not have happened.

Benjamin underwent a procedure to drain fluid on the brain when a shunt was inserted. However, he later returned to hospital vomiting and unwell.

Liability has been admitted and the case is before the court for assessment of damages only.

Dermot Gleeson SC, for the family, told the court shunt infection is a known complication of the procedure and the cause of the negligence was that for up to three days this possibility was not investigated.

Benjamin, he said, got progressively worse.

Benjamin, formerly of Knockmaroon Hill, Chapelizod, Dublin, but now living in Putney, London, has sued the hospital over his care in April 2011.

It is claimed the hospital was negligent about the investigation, diagnosis, management treatment and care of the shunt infection on April 9, 2011.

He was admitted on March 21, 2011 for the shunt procedure and discharged home three days later.

Between March 24, 2011 and April  15, the baby sustained a complication of the shunt procedure and was brought back to A&E.

It is claimed at no time was the possibility of a shunt infection considered and gastroenteritis and a chest infection were suggested.

Among the assessment matters the court must deal with are the provision of a home for Benjamin.

His mother, Miriam Gillick told the court she and her husband Andrew and their three children live in London a three bedroom apartment on the first floor.

She had given up her job in investment banking to look after her son.

The court heard a house in the Putney region near Benjamin's special school could cost in the region of €6.5million euros.

Benjamin was one of twins was born prematurely at 25 weeks gestation in April 2010.

He was born at home and mother was taken by ambulance to a Dublin hospital  where his twin brother was delivered.

Benjamin had a number of associated conditions with being born prematurely but otherwise was developing normally.

At 11 months he underwent the procedure to relieve fluid on the brain when the shunt was inserted but an infection developed afterwards.

Counsel said the baby's temperature was 39 degrees at one stage after he went back to Temple Street but by the time it was realised what was the infection had developed.

Counsel said Benjamin has to use a a wheelchair and will need constant care for the rest of his life.

At the outset of the hearing, Mr Justice Kevin Cross dismissed an application by the hospital to have the case assessed on the basis of interim payments rather than a once off lump sum.

The case continues.

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