A Dublin High Court has heard a case of injuries sustained by a young boy due to failure of medical staff at a hospital to correctly treat his meningitis.
In May 2004, Matthew McGrath (then 17 months old) was brought to Wexford General Hospital after his parents noticed that he was vomiting fluids and was unusually sleepy. Matthew was immediately diagnosed with Haemophilus Influenza Type B-a bacteria which is known to lead to meningitis. Matthew should have been administered antibiotics immediately.
Matthew’s condition quickly deteriorated and he went into shock. Matthew underwent lumbar puncture to confirm his case of meningitis, despite medical guidelines against such a procedure when the patient is in shock. As a result of the compression to his spinal cord, Matthew is now permanently paralysed.
Matthew cannot move his arms or legs and his breathing is assisted by a ventilator as a consequence to the medical negligence he experienced during his procedure. It was two years before he finally left hospital and started being cared for by his parents at home.
On behalf of her son, Cathy McGrath made a claim for failure to treat her son’s meningitis against the HSE. She claimed that if her son had been administered the antibiotics and fluids as required when he initially arrived at Wexford General Hospital, he never would have needed the lumbar puncture, and as a result sustained such debilitating injuries.
An investigation was launched into the failure to treat the meningitis. The HSE admitted liability, and an interim settlement of €3.7 million was negotiated. Since Matthew is a minor, the compensation had to be approved by a judge before his family could accept it.
Mr Justice Matthew Cross heard the case at the High Court in Dublin. After hearing the circumstances of Matthew’s injuries, the judge approved the settlement. The claim has been adjourned for five years so that an investigation into Matthew’s future needs can be conducted. A full compensation settlement will be negotiated as a result of this investigation.