Monday 23 July 2018

Toddler choking on popcorn suffered brain damage after kernel was not removed for three days, court hears

Amandeep Kaur and Tajinder Gill, parents of Jasbeen Gill (11), of Seafield Court, Rush, Co. Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after the High Court approved an award for Jasbeen Gill. Pic: Collins Courts
Amandeep Kaur and Tajinder Gill, parents of Jasbeen Gill (11), of Seafield Court, Rush, Co. Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after the High Court approved an award for Jasbeen Gill. Pic: Collins Courts
The judge threw out McDonagh’s claim which meant the six other claims collapsed with it and were dismissed

Tim Healy

A toddler who was rushed to hospital choking on a popcorn kernel later sustained brain damage after she was misdiagnosed with croup cough.

The kernel was not removed for three days from Jasveen Gill (now 11), the High Court heard.

The HSE and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, apologised to Jasveen for "the shortcomings in her care" as she settled her legal action with an  interim payout of €3.1million. 

He counsel Dr John O'Mahoney told the court it was a profoundly sad case and it has been a nightmare for Jasveen and her family.

Jasveen, he said, was a perfectly  happy child for one year and ten months and is now brain damaged, has difficulties with balance and has poor speech.

On the third day of her admission to the Drogheda hospital, the toddler had a choking and gasping fit and emergency resuscitation was commenced. She was transferred to the Children's Hospital, Crumlin where a bronchoscopy examination of the lungs was carried out and the popcorn kernel was  found lodged in her right lung.

Unfortunately, counsel said, it was too late for Jasveen who was in a very serious condition and remained unconscious for 30 days. The child suffered significant brain damage, he said.

On Wednesday, the HSE and the management and staff of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital apologised unreservedly to Jasveen and her family “ for the shortcomings over care at the time of her admission in May 2008 and for the “ distress and suffering” this had caused.

“As a result of the Critical Incident Review completed in 2008 in relation to Jasveen’s management, valuable lessons were learned and recommendations were implemented in the hospital in order to prevent a reoccurrence,” it said.

Liability was conceded in the case.  The €3.1million is for the next seven years when Jasveen will come back to court for her future care needs to be assessed.

Actions brought by her parents Ms Amandeep Kaur and Mr Tajinder Gill for nervous shock were also settled, the court heard.

Jasveen, of Seafield Court, Rush, Co Dublin, through her father, sued the HSE  over the circumstances of care.

On May 10, 2008, Jasveen was at home when she swallowed some popcorn.

Counsel said the popcorn went in to her airway and the child began coughing and was very quickly in a crisis situation.

Her grandmother and a neighbour tried to resuscitate and she was was rushed to  Lourdes Hospital.

She was kept in for observation and had a further episode of choking and ended up in the intensive care unit  where she was re-examined.

On May 13,  three days after she was admitted, she had a very severe bout of coughing, went in to cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated. Counsel said in the ambulance en route to the Crumlin children's hospital, the child had two further severe seizures.

It was claimed that at Lourdes Hospital Jasveen was incorrectly diagnosed with croup cough and started on medication. It was alleged no further investigative steps were taken in relation to the ingested popcorn.

There was  an alleged failure to carry out appropriate investigations at Lourdes Hospital and an alleged failure to diagnose the existence of a foreign body in her respiratory tract or lung. 

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