Saturday 17 August 2019

Dermatologist misdiagnosed ringworm in two children and prescribed inappropriate treatment, court hears

Stock photo
Stock photo

Ray Managh

A consultant dermatologist misdiagnosed ringworm in two children as seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp and as a result prescribed an inappropriate treatment which added to their discomfort and pain, the Circuit Civil Court was told Tuesday.

Judge Kathryn Hutton heard that Galway-based Dr Taj Shaikh had made a settlement offer of €40,000 to seven-year-old Jay Slevin, of Horseleap, Moate, Co Westmeath, and an offer of €10,000 to his 11-year-old sister Aimee.

Barrister Esther Earley, who appeared for the children with Martina Rowley of CM Haughey Solicitors, told the court Jay and Aimee had in April 2014 both suffered a fungal infection commonly known as ringworm on their scalps. Aimee was seven and Jay only two at the time.

Ms Earley said the children had been referred by a locum in the general practice of Dr John Bannon, Mullingar, to consultant dermatologist Dr Shaikh at his rooms in Galway Private Clinic where he had wrongly diagnosed seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp.

Dr Shaikh had embarked them upon treatment that was inappropriate for their conditions which, according to a medical expert on behalf of the children, had led to continuing deterioration of their complaints by encouraging growth of the offending organisms.

The court was told that both children, who sued Dr Shaikh through their mother Darlena Slevin, as well as their GP, Dr Bannon, and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.  Ms Earley said that through an arrangement between all of the defendants Dr Bannon and Our Lady’s Hospital had been let out of the proceedings.

Ms Earley said Dr Shaikh had to date not delivered a defence to the action and had decided to make settlement offers to the children without any admission of liability on his part. The other two defendants had earlier entered defence documents and had reached some agreement with Dr Shaikh, the details of which she and CM Haughey Solicitors were not aware.

Counsel said the children had wrongly been prescribed a steroid that had multiplied the organism causing the infections. The treatment of the infection under Dr Shaikh had been “disastrously wrong,” prolonging their suffering, according to their medical expert, by about six months.  

Ms Earley said the injury was more significant in the case of Jay who had required hospital admission for a number of days after his scalp infection had bled profusely from an abscess caused by the infection. He had also suffered hair loss and it was a factor in his case that if his hair was tightly cut today the loss would still be visible. His hair loss was a permanent issue.

Judge Hutton approved of the settlement offers of €40,000 for Jay and €10,000 for Aimee, together with Circuit Court costs.  She said the settlement rulings were against Dr Shaikh only by consent of all of the defendant parties. The proceedings against Dr Bannon and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin, were by consent struck out with no further order.

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