A High Court Judge has found the HSE liable for a hydrocephalus brain injury after a young girl was left physically and mentally disabled for life.
In April 2008, Ava Kiernan-just three months old at the time-was displaying symptoms of hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”). The disease is caused by spinal fluid collecting in the skull as a result of it not draining from the brain. It is diagnosed in children under a year old by bulges appearing around the skull, or by the quick increase in the circumference of the head.
Her mother brought her to be examined by a public health nurse, who did not act on her mother’s concerns, or arrange a follow-up consultation for Ava. Had a such a consultation been organised, the rapid change in the size of the young girl’s head would have been identified. However, her skull was not measured until September that year. This measurement was performed incorrectly, resulting in inaccurate results.
Due to these errors, and the original nurse’s negligence, the pressure of the spinal fluid in the skull resulted in Ava suffering from brain damage. She now suffers from both physical and mental disabilities.
On her daughter’s behalf, Ruth Kiernan sought legal advice, and made a hydrocephalus brain injury claim for compensation against the HSE. The claim was contested by the defendant, resulting in the case being brought before Mr Justice Kevin Cross in the High Court in Dublin. After a hearing of three weeks, the judge ruled in Ava’s favour. He stated that if there had been the appropriate follow-up examination, or if the measurement of her head in September had been carried out correctly, the hydrocephalus would have been identified and suitably treated. Had it been identified, the judge stated that Ava never would have suffered the brain damage due to the excess of fluid.
Judge Cross adjourned the case so that an investigation into Ava’s future needs could be assessed, and an appropriate settlement could be made to provide for her future.