Compensation Claim for Failure to Treat Meningitis Settled

A claim made on behalf of a young boy, who was not treated properly after he contracted meningitis, has been resolved in court for a seven-figure interim compensation settlement.

When Matthew McGrath was just seventeen months old on the 27th March 2004, he was admitted to Wexford General Hospital. His symptoms included vomiting and drowsiness, and as such, he was diagnosed with Haemophilus Influenza Type B. This is an established precursor to meningitis, and as such, Matthew should have been given antibiotics.

Matthew was kept in hospital overnight, where his condition worsened. He then went into shock, and in spite of the medical guidelines advising against it, a lumbar puncture was performed. This confirmed that Matthew, indeed, had meningitis, but because of the compression to his spinal chord Matthew is now permanently paralysed.

Due to the failure in care – both for the lack of antibiotics and the inappropriate lumbar puncture, Matthew cannot move any of his limbs and is reliant on a ventilator to breathe. He spent the next two years in hospital, until finally being discharged and returned to his parents’ care.

Cathy McGrath made a claim for compensation on her son’s behalf. In the claim, it was alleged that had Matthew received adequate treatment upon his admission to Wexford General Hospital, he would not be as severely debilitated as he is now.

An investigation ensued at the hospital, and liability for Matthew’s injuries was admitted by the HSE. After issuing an apology, an interim compensation settlement of €3.7 million was agreed upon – though it first needed to be approved by a judge, as it was for a minor.

The case proceeded to the High Court in Dublin, where Mr Justice Cross overheard proceedings. He was detailed the circumstances of the case, and approved the interim settlement. The case was then adjourned for five years such that an assessment of Matthew’s future needs could be conducted.