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Local girl with only 'months to live' settles High Court case against two hospitals

Apr 29, 2022 12:04 By Shannonside News
Local girl with only 'months to live' settles High Court case against two hospitals Local girl with only 'months to live' settles High Court case against two hospitals
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The girl has been given as a very short live expectancy.

A 12-year-old Shannonside girl with a life expectancy of six months who had sued over an alleged delay in the diagnosis of a tumour on her spine has settled her High Court action for €675,000.

Her mother who was praised for her heroic 24-hour care of her daughter broke down in the High Court as she told how the young girl is “not going to last.”

The girl who will be 13 years old next month and cannot be identified by order of the court had first gone to a hospital A&E two years ago complaining of unexplained neck pain but she was diagnosed as having a cyst.

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Her Counsel Eugene Gleeson SC told the court time for the 12-year-old “is now running out.” It was their case that her spinal tumour which he said was “an awful condition not amenable to treatment” should have been diagnosed two years earlier and the girl was treated for the wrong condition. Their expert, he said would say that the tumour was always high grade with a “dismal prognosis” of between nine months to three years.

Counsel described the cyst diagnosis in July 2020 at Mullingar Regional Hospital as “an astonishing diagnosis.”

Last week, he told the court the 12-year-old girl was given a life expectancy of just three to six months.

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Mr Gleeson told Mr Justice Paul Coffey it was their contention that had the tumour been diagnosed earlier the young girl would have had a better quality of life and she would not have been in so much pain.

The girl’s mother showed a picture of her daughter to the judge.

“This is my little girl before. I want to hug her as long as I can,” she said.

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“My little girl has a name and a face and a smile. I have not seen much of the smile in the last two years. Why did it happen to her ?” she added, breaking down in tears.

She said they got her daughter home from hospital to find out she was going to die.

“I hope for the best. All I will have is the memories. In the last two years, I could have done so much with her. Everybody in hospital I trusted let me down,” she told the judge.

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The settlement is against the HSE and Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, Dublin.

Against the HSE it was claimed there was an alleged failure when the 11-year-old was brought to Mullingar Regional Hospital A&E on July 30, 2020, to obtain an adequate and appropriate history of her neck pain. It was further claimed the diagnosis of a cyst was premature and it should have been known such a non-infective cyst cannot cause increasing pain to the neck of an 11-year-old child over a period of a few days.

Against Temple Street Children’s Hospital it was claimed there was an alleged failure to deal in a timely and effective manner with the tumour and an alleged failure to exercise any or any reasonable care in surveillance so as to promptly identify the presence of the tumour.

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All the claims were denied.

The girl on July 30, 2020, was brought to the Mullingar Regional Hospital A&E with unexplained neck pain.

A big lump was recorded on the back of the child’s neck and a non-infective cyst was diagnosed and the child was discharged with advice on painkillers.

A few days later her mother noticed a weakness in her daughter’s limbs. An ambulance was called, and she was taken back to the A&E at Mullingar Regional Hospital. There it was noted she had lost power to her right side and she had weakness in her right arm and leg.

Counsel told the court a diagnosis of transverse myelitis which is a disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord was made and this diagnosis he said,  “persisted in Temple Street Hospital.”

Mr Gleeson said the tumour diagnosis was not made until February 2022.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Coffey said he understood the pain and heartbreak of the girl’s family and the fact that the last two years are years they won’t get back.

He ordered that €200,000 be paid out immediately for the benefit of the young girl.

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