Thursday 19 July 2018

Mother settles for €100,000 over baby's whooping cough death

Maria Mullins and Roman Betak, from Gurranabraher, Cork, parents of baby Romi Photo: Collins Courts
Maria Mullins and Roman Betak, from Gurranabraher, Cork, parents of baby Romi Photo: Collins Courts
Baby Romi, who died in 2012. Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

A mother whose two-month-old son died two weeks after she brought him to hospital with what it was claimed were the classic signs of whooping cough, has settled her High Court action for €100,000.

The court was told a diagnosis of bronchiolitis was made at Cork University Hospital on Romi Betak, from Cork, when in reality the baby had whooping cough.

The family's counsel Dr John O'Mahony said the baby went downhill and a blood sample taken coagulated and could not be tested. Counsel said if a repeat blood test had been carried out, the course for Romi would have been different, as a diagnosis could have been made. Counsel said the baby remained at Cork University Hospital (CUH) and his condition deteriorated.

"His heart was racing, his breath was racing. The penny never dropped until it was too late," counsel said.

The court was told liability remained an issue in the case.

Maria Mullins (33), of Presentation Road, Gurranabraher, Cork, had sued the HSE over the death of Romi in August 2012.

Romi's parents, Maria and Roman Betak, brought the baby to CUH on August 3, 2012 with classic features of a whooping cough infection, it was claimed.

The baby had respiratory symptoms including episodes of breath holding. He also had coughing spasms and thick copious secretions, it was claimed.

Despite the baby's deterioration, he was allegedly not reviewed again by a doctor until August 5.

On that date, his breathing was more laboured but the probability of whooping cough was allegedly not considered.

It was claimed there was a failure at that stage to carry out a chest X-ray and a failure to discuss the possibility of the provision of antibiotics.

The baby remained in poor condition and on the evening of August 7, he had very thick yellow secretions, which it was claimed suggested secondary bacterial infection to explain his deteriorating condition. There was an alleged failure to respond appropriately.

On August 8, it was noted the baby had a restless night and the diagnosis remained viral infection and bronchiolitis.

For the next two days, he was tube fed consistent with his deteriorating respiratory status.

It was claimed on August 11 there was a further deterioration in the baby's condition but it is alleged there was no medical intervention.

At this stage, it was claimed, the possibility of whooping cough infection was noted.

A chest X-ray showed significant areas of lung infection and on August 12, the baby suffered a respiratory arrest and was resuscitated, intubated and transferred to a Dublin hospital where he died on August 14.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the settlement.

Irish Independent

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