A compensation settlement of €100,000 has been given approval in the High Court in relation to a medical negligence claim made by a mother whose two-month-old son died two weeks after she took him to hospital with a serious cough.
The family’s legal representative Dr John O’Mahony informed the High Court that a diagnosis of bronchiolitis was returned Cork University Hospital on baby Romi Betak when the baby was really suffering from a case of the whooping cough.
The whooping cough compensation case had been taken by Romi’s mother, Maria Mullins (33), of Presentation Road, Gurranabraher, Cork, against the Health Service Executive (HSE) in relation Romi’s death in August 2012.
Dr O’Mahony, in relaying the events that took place, said the child’s condition worsened and a blood sample taken coagulated and therefore could not be tested accurately. It was claimed that Counsel said if a repeat blood test had been successful a diagnosis could have been reached and a proper course of treatment administered. Instead, the High Court was told, Romi was kept at Cork University Hospital (CUH) and his condition got worse. He said “His (Romi’s) heart was racing, his breath was racing. The penny never dropped until it was too late”.
It was claimed that Romi’s health was not reviewed again by a doctor until August 5. By this time his breathing had become more laboured but the probability of whooping cough was allegedly not considered.
It was claimed there was a failure at this point to complete a chest X-ray and a failure to discuss the possibility of the provision of antibiotics was pivotal.
Romi’s condition had not improved by late in the evening on August 7 and he was experiencing thick yellow secretions, which it was alleged point to a secondary bacterial infection to explain his deteriorating condition. Again there is an allegation that an adequate response did not occur. By August 8, it was noted the baby had a restless night and the diagnosis remained viral infection and bronchiolitis. The next two days Romi was tube fed in line with his worsening respiratory status.
It was claimed that the possibility of whooping cough infection was noted for the first time on August 11 after another deterioration in the child’s condition. However a medical intervention still did not take place. A chest X-ray revealed significant areas of lung infection.
The following day, August 12, the Romi experienced a respiratory arrest and had to be resuscitated, intubated and moved to a Dublin hospital where he sadlydied on August 14.
The High Court was informed that liability remained an issue in the legal action case while Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the whooping cough damages settlement.