Thursday 26 April 2018

Student awarded €2.5m initial payment over brain tumour diagnosis

Tim Healy

A YOUNG man has settled a court action after he was left severely disabled due to an alleged delay in diagnosing a brain tumour.

Seamus Walshe Junior (27) is to receive an initial payment of €2.5m subject to a review in three years time.

Mr Walshe sued, through his father Seamus snr, for damages arising out of the alleged failure of University College Hospital Galway to diagnose at the earliest opportunity that he had a germ cell tumour in his brain, and over the subsequent decision at Beaumont Hospital to carry out surgery on him rather than cheomtherapy or radiotherapy treatment.

Mr Walshe jun was a construction studies third level student when he first complained of problems with his eyes and nausea and vomiting six years ago.

It was claimed that as a result of the intiital delay in diagnosis in Galway, Mr Walshe's tumour grew and spread in to surrounding tissue and he continued to suffer pain and discomfort.

If scans has been done, it was claimed he would have been referred to Beaumont much sooner.

As a result of a decision for surgery at Beaumont, it was alleged Mr Walshe Junior suffered substantial complications and ended up in intensive care for nine weeks.

It was claimed there was a failure to have regard to the fact that the type of tumour was one which responds well to radiotherapy and chemotherapy , even when it has spread with long term survival rates of up to 90per cent.

The case by Mr Walshe Junior of Devon Gardens, Taylors Hall, Galway was against the HSE and Beaumont Hospital.

The settlement at the High Court today was without admission of liability.

His father Seamus Walshe Senior told the court the settlement won't undo the damage done but the family will, as a result be able to get rehabilitation treatment for his son overseas.

"Our entire life has been turned upside down ," he told Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

The settlement provides for payout care for the next three years and periodic payments afterwards if the appropriate legislation is introduced for such a system.

His future care needs will be assessed in three years time and subject to annual payouts if the legislation is in place by then.

Ms Justice Irvine said there was no guarantee that periodic payments legistlatiion will be introducd and there has been a "deathly silence" from the Government on the matter.

It was claimed Mr Walshe Junior developed problems with his upward gaze in the second half of 2006 and had bouts of nausea and vomiting. He was seen by an opthalmologist in December of that year and referred to University College Hospital.

The student was seen at the hospital in February 2007.

It was claimed that there was a delay in diagnosing him as initially staff at Galway appeared to feel his eye symptoms and nausea were unrelated.

After initial neurological examination he was told he had no problem and it is claimed was told he should " get used" to his eye movement problem.

He had a review appointment at the Galway hospital on April 24, 2007 but by this stage he had a terrible thirst and required iced water constantly.

On that date a consultant indicated he felt Mr Walshe Jnr had a mid-brain (mid-brain) disorder and an MRI scan was carried out at the Bon Secours Hospital, Cork.

Two days later, the scan showed a mid brain tumour and he was admitted to Beaumont on May 1, 2007.

The scans showed a tumour which it is claimed had increased in size from the time of Mr Walshe Junior's first examination at Galway in February 2007. Two further brain scans showed the extent of the tumour.

A consultant endocrinologist on May 15, 2007 corrently indicated the appropriate treatment was to proceed to chemotherapy and radiotherapy with a biopsy.

Instead, it is claimed the neurosuergical team made a decision to carry out surgery on Mr Walshe Junior. It is alleged he underwent a consent process but it was claimed this was not a fully informed consent.

He underwent the surgical excision it is claimed on May 22, 2007, but suffered substantial intracranial haemoerrhage and intitially did not wake up.

He also had to have further surgery to remove a blood clot and was later transferred to the intensive care unit where he stayed for nine weeks.

He was transferred back to Galway in November 2007 and to the National Rebhabilitation Centre in September 2008. On admission, he was in a wheelchair, had severe spasticity of the limbs and there was a severe disorder of eye movements.

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