Saturday 19 January 2019

HSE pays €40,000 after death of little Aimee (2) from a hole in her heart

Aimee Keogh. Photo: RTÉ News
Aimee Keogh. Photo: RTÉ News
Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

The HSE has apologised unreservedly and been ordered to pay more than €40,000 to the parents of a little girl who died as a result of an undiagnosed hole in the heart.

Two-year-old Aimee Keogh died in an ambulance just as she was due to be transferred from Limerick Hospital to Our Lady's Hospital for Children, Crumlin for a cardiac procedure on July 10, 2014.

She had originally been admitted to hospital in March 2014 for febrile convulsions caused by tonsillitis.

Consultant radiologist Padraig O'Brien said that after reading her X-ray, he was suspicious of a septal defect - a hole between the chambers of the heart. However, Aimee was not referred on to a paediatric cardiologist and further negligence occurred when a paediatric neurologist and a treating paediatrician failed to review or recognise abnormalities presented in the X-ray, the Keogh family claimed.

For almost four months, Aimee's major congenital heart defect went undiagnosed until her condition deteriorated in the days before her death.

Aimee had suffered 17 seizures before her admission to hospital on July 9 and was being prepared for transfer to Dublin for a paediatric cardio echo procedure that can be performed only by a paediatric cardio consultant based in Crumlin.

An inquest into the toddler's death heard her case was never reviewed by a paediatric cardiologist, but paediatric consultant Annemarie Murphy, who was in charge of Aimee's case, said she found the X-ray to be normal and a multi-disciplinary team who reviewed the same X-ray over three weeks later also found it to be normal.

At the time there were no paediatric cardiologists based outside Crumlin and children could have to wait up to two years to be seen.

In court, the HSE apologised unreservedly to Aimee's parents, Deirdre and James Keogh, for the hurt, stress and upset caused by the tragic death.

Judge Eugene O'Kelly ordered the HSE to pay compensation totalling more than €40,000 to the Keogh family.

In a plea outside Limerick Circuit Court after the conclusion of the civil action against the HSE, Mr Keogh implored the Health Minister Simon Harris, Government and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to implement the recommendations made by the University Hospital Limerick following its internal investigation into the tragedy.

Mr Keogh described the family's last few moments with Aimee.

"Whilst being transferred to the ambulance, Aimee became upset and stressed, which brought on one of her seizures and she went into heart failure while clutching her little teddy," he said.

The little girl died a short time later despite the best efforts to resuscitate her.

"Telling our two little boys that their sister was not coming home was the hardest thing we ever had to do as parents and their screams will haunt us forever," Mr Keogh added.

"No family should have to go through the horrible and heartbreaking ordeal that my family suffered. It is absolutely shocking that people are dying from persons' negligence, lack of care and system failures and this has to stop now.

"Aimee was our princess who had her whole life in front of her but sadly this was stolen from her, her parents and her two brothers.

"Aimee's death should not have happened."

Irish Independent

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