Friday 20 July 2018

'The penny never dropped' - mother settles legal action over death of baby who 'presented with classic whooping cough'

Supplied collect image of Baby Romi. Photo: Collins Courts
Supplied collect image of Baby Romi. Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

A MOTHER who brought her two month old son to hospital with what it was claimed were the classic signs of whooping cough but the baby later died has settled her High Court action for €100,000.

Senior Counsel Dr John O'Mahony SC told the court a diagnosis of bronchiolitis was made at Cork University Hospital on Baby Romi Betak from Cork when in reality the baby had whooping cough.

Baby Romi, Counsel said went downhill and a blood sample taken coagulated, so could not be tested. Counsel told the High Court if a repeat blood  test had been carried out the course for Baby Romi would have been different as a diagnosis could have been made.

Counsel said the baby remained at Cork University hospital and his condition deteriorated.

"His heart was racing, his breath was racing. The penny never dropped until unfortunately it was too late," Counsel told the court..

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that liability remained at issue in the case.

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

Maria Mullins (33), Presentation Road, Gurranabraher, Cork had sued the HSE over the death of her two month old baby Romi Betak on August 14, 2012.

Romi's parents brought the baby to Cork University Hospital on August 3, 2012  with it is claimed classic features of a whooping cough infection. The baby had a runny nose and respiratory symptoms including episodes of breath holding. The baby it was claimed also had coughing spasms and thick copious secretions.

It was claimed that despite the baby's deterioration from the time of his admission including breath holding episodes and coughing spasms, he was not allegedly reviewed again by a doctor  until August 5,2012. On that date, his breathing was more laboured but the probability of whooping cough was not considered, it was alleged. 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.

It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to make a correct diagnosis and to take the appropriate steps in terms of treatment.

The baby remained in poor condition it was claimed and on evening of August 7, the baby had very thick yellow secretions which it was claimed suggested secondary bacterial infection to explain his deteriorating condition, but 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 brochiolitis. For the next two days  the baby was tube fed consistent with his deteriorating respiratory status and it was claimed there was an alleged failure to respond appropriately to the baby's status.

Romi also had a persistent chest  cough and it was claimed on August 11, 2012 there was a further deterioration in the baby's condition and he was described as being pale, mottled and having marked coughing episodes but it is alleged there was no medical intervention.

At this stage it is 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, 2012. The cause of death was stated to be pulmonary hypertension and pertussis pneumonia.

As a result of baby Romi's death,it was claimed his  mother suffered shock and the death of baby Romi has left a void in the life of his parents Maria and father Roman Betak and the rest of the family.

The claims were denied.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross offered his sympathies to baby Romi's family on their sad and tragic loss and he wished them well for the future.

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