Wednesday 16 October 2019

Portlaoise hospital apologises for death of boy (8)

Richard De Souza
Richard De Souza
Ramon and Flavia de Souza leave court afterthe hearing

Tim Healy

A HOSPITAL today apologised to the parents of an eight-year-old boy who died 18 hours after he was discharged from its A&E with a prescription.

Richard de Souza, who had chicken pox, died when toxins overwhelmed his body as an infection took hold.

The High Court heard if he had been given antiobitocs intravenously after he was admitted to Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise,  it was a matter of high probability that it would have dealt with the infection he had on top of the chicken pox and saved his life.

The apology was read to court as part of a €160,000 settlement of the damages action by Richard's parents, Flavia Helena de Souza and Ralmon Rodriquez de Souza - originally from Brazil - as a result of the death of their son in the the hospital in February 2011.

Outside court yesterday, the family's solicitor Ann Nowlan said the de Souzas still have  concerns about the treatment which their son received.

The settlement and the apology had "gone somewhere to acknowledge the lack of care which Richard received, and to bring them closure in this case.

"But they believe that had Richard received the proper care he would still be alive today, and that his tragic death could have been prevented,"  Ms Nowlan said

In the apology read to court, the management and staff of Midland Regional expressed its "sincere sympathy and regret" to the de Souza family over the tragic death of Richard as a result of a streptococcal infection following his attendance, treatment and discharge from the emergency department on the evening prior to his death.

Senior Counsel,Dr John O'Mahony, for the family, said it was a very sad case.

Richard's parents are completely lost without their son, he said. His father, who heard of the death over the phone while at work, went almost " almost hysterical" and was so ill for the next four days he could not attend his son's funeral.

Mrs de Souza was eight months pregnant at the time  and had to attend Richard's funeral on her own.

Both parents, counsel said, have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of Richard's death. The experience of witnessing their son's deteriorating health and his death in circumstances in  which it should not have happened overcame them both, it was claimed.

The de Souzas, with an address at Hollands Avenue, Athy, Co Kildare,  had sued the HSE for damages as a result of the wrongful death Richard on February 7, 2011, and for nervous shock suffered by them as a result

The couple had brought their son to the A&E at about 4.27pm on Sunday February 6 and were seen by a triage nurse.

The de Souzas told staff of the chicken pox spots and said their primary concern was a large swelling on Richard's left side.

It was claimed that on arrival at hospital, Richard was complaining of a swelling under his left arm which was hot to touch and that he was cursorily examined by a doctor who diagnosed he was suffering an infection from chicken pox and prescribed medication for three days. It is claimed the doctor failed to admit Richard to the hospital for observation.

The de Souzas had great difficulty in finding a pharmacy open on a Sunday evening had had to travel from Portlaoise to Newbridge to get to a a chemist before it closed.

That night Richard displayed signs of great thirst while he was in bed and kept requesting drinks from his father. He was later found to be delirious and when his father, who is a jockey was going for a ride out at 5.30am, he gave his son his antibiotics.

At 10.30 am, the court heard  Richard told his mother he wanted to vomit but he lost consciousness. Ambulance crew found he was in cardiac arrest and he was rushed to the Midland Regional  where he was declared dead.

It was claimed that there was a failure to admit Richard to the hospital and a failure to identify or bear in their assessment the fact that he had or may have had streptococcus which was associated with chicken pox and could cause extremely serious consequences.

Counsel said experts would say that antibiotics could have been administered intravenously and as a matter of probability his life could have been saved.

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