Court Approves Interim Settlement of Compensation for Child Injuries

The High Court of Dublin has approved a seven-figure settlement of compensation for a child that sustained severe injuries after experiencing medical negligence at the Portiuncula Hospital.

Eoghan Dunne was aged just eleven months old when he was admitted to the Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe in August 2012. The boy, from Co. Offaly, was suffering from severe respiratory distress and an elevated heart rate and within twelve hours his condition had become so severe that he was transferred to Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Dublin.

At the Dublin hospital, Eoghan went into septic shock and suffered from a heart attack. This resulted in a lack of oxygen to his brain and as such he sustained severe brain damage that has rendered him epileptic, with severe visual impairments and an inability to walk or talk. Eoghan was in hospital for six months after the heart attack and will now be reliant on twenty-four hour care for the rest of his life.

An investigation into the nature of Eoghan’s injuries was conducted that showed that he had received substandard care whilst at the Portincula Hospital. The review alleges that the facility was not prepared for cases such as Eoghan’s, and that they failed to give him antibiotics – a direct contradiction of the HSE’s policies regarding sepsis. Additionally, the transfer to Temple Street was unnecessarily protracted because of a lack of “competent staff”.

Ronan and Teresa, Eoghan’s parents, decided to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the HSE and the Portiuncula Hospital, alleging that their son would not have sustained as severe injuries had the hospital acted appropriately. However, the HSE denied that they were liable and a court hearing was scheduled.

Yet, shortly before the hearing was due to commence, the HSE decided to concede liability for the claim and offered an interim settlement of compensation such that an adequate assessment of Eoghan’s needs could be made. Before this could be awarded, it was subject to approval by the High Court of Dublin.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw the approval hearing, and after hearing the circumstances of Eoghan’s case, readily approved the settlement. He added that, had the HSE conceded liability earlier, Eoghan could have afforded treatment at a more critical stage. The interim settlement amounts to €2.4 million, and assessments are currently underway to finalise the next settlement.