Thursday 19 July 2018

Hospital apology to brain damaged boy (4) as part of €3.5m interim settlement

Jude Miley with his mum and dad Anne Louise and Greville from Dundrum in Dublin Photo: Ronan Lang/Feature File
Jude Miley with his mum and dad Anne Louise and Greville from Dundrum in Dublin Photo: Ronan Lang/Feature File

Tim Healy

A hospital has apologised to a four year old boy left profoundly brain damaged after an operation when he was a baby.

The apology was read to the High Court as part of settlement of Jude Miley's action with an interim payment of €3.5m over the next two years.

Counsel for Crumlin Children's Hospital in Dublin, Emily Egan, turned to face Jude's parents and read out the statement  in which the hospital offered an "unequivocal, unreserved and heartfelt" apology for what had happened him.

The hospital said it "appreciated and greatly regretted the huge trauma" suffered by the baby and his family. Jude was only six months old when a suture used in an operation to release his diaphragm and help his breathing remained untrimmed causing damage to the heart muscle.

Two days later, he had a heart attack and had to be rushed to theatre for emergency surgery which saved his life.

Jude, of Holywell, Upper Kilmacud Road, Dundrum, Dublin, had through his father Greville Miley sued Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children.

Jude was born on July 16, 2011, and by January of the following year a condition regarding the contour of his diaphragm was diagnosed.

Necessary surgery was carried out on January 24, 2012, which, it was claimed, was below the standard of care.

It was claimed a suture was placed in the wrong place damaging the heart resulting in the baby deteriorating culminating in the baby suffering a cardiac arrest on January 26, 2012.

Senior counsel Liam Reidy, for the Mileys, told the court that Jude's little heart was being pierced by the suture.

His mother, Anne Louise Miley, who was a public health nurse, had raised concerns about her son after his operation but these were dismissed, counsel said.

Greville Miley told the court he and his wife were told their son would be in a vegetative state but as a result of therapies in the UK and the US he can now walk and run, talk and eat normally though slowly. He said Jude is the happiest child he knows.

He said he and his wife thought their son was unwell after the operation but they felt they were ignored.

Mr Miley said friends had set up a trust fund for Jude and that is how the family were able to travel to the US and the UK for therapies for him.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross thanked the Mileys for the care they had given their son to date.

In a statement afterwards, the Mileys said their concerns after their son's operation had been dismissed "as those of fussy parents"

However,  their son had sustained permanent and catastrophic brain damage.

They also criticised  "the lack of honesty and frankness" on the part of the hospital and said they had been led to believe what had happened was "simply an unfortunate complication of the operation."

"We were told it was just 'one of those things'.

"We later learned this was certainly not the case," the statement said.

It added: "We are so lucky in this country that we have a court system capable of recalibrating the inequality that exists between the injured patients and the powerful medical profession.

"We were stonewalled.  Only for the legal system we don't believe we would have achieved what has been accomplished here."

They also said a lot of people criticise the legal system but they could not compliment it enough.

"It has worked for Jude. What didn't work for Jude however was the failure of the hospital to engage with us and the legal system in an honest open and integral fashion.

"If they had done so, our journey would have been so much easier and Jude rehabilitated far sooner."

The couple said their son was their pride and joy.

"We are and will be devoted to him for the rest of his life. He has significant, complex needs and these needs have now been partly met in financial terms by the settlement today to fund the best care and support for Jude which is after all he had been put through, the least he deserves," they said.

In three year's time Jude's case will come back before the court when the child's future care needs will be assessed.

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