Compensation for Delayed Hydrocephalus Diagnosis Awarded by Court

Dublin’s High Court have settled a claim for compensation made on the behalf of a child who had a delayed diagnosis of hydrocephalus.

On the 17th January 2008, Joe Keegan-Grant was delivered at the Mount Carmel Hospital in Dublin. He was born via an emergency Caesarean Section as a scan had shown that he had an arachnoid cyst at the base of his brain. The Caesarean was necessary to prevent pressure being applied to Joe’s head during delivery.

After his discharge from hospital, Joe was regularly examined by Dr Vladka Vilimkova, a paediatrician, and a public health nurse. However, Joe’s mother – Patricia – has alleged that at no point during the examinations was the circumference of Joe’s head recorded. She also alleges that the professionals never exchanged measurements they had made.

As a result of this lack of communication, there was a delay in realising that Joe’s head was expanding at a faster rate than expected. When the family moved house, and as such changed GP, their new doctor expressed their concerns about the rapidly expanding circumference of Joe’s head.

In October 2008, Patricia took Joe to Crumlin Hospital for a scan. There, her son was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which is a known consequence of arachnoid cysts. This has, in turn, affected Joe’s developmental delay and autism.

Acting on her son’s behalf, Patricia made a claim against Mount Carmel for the delayed diagnosis of hydrocephalus. In her claim, she alleged that both of the medical professionals charged with looking after her son should have been more vigilant given her son’s medical history.

Though they have denied liability, the Health Service Executives (HSE) have offered Joe a compensation settlement of €1.9 million for the delayed diagnosis. In the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told of Joe’s progress despite his autism diagnosis.

However, the judge was also told that Joe would be reliant on care for the rest of his life. Whilst speaking at the hearing, Joe’s father said that: “we just want to ensure that we can look after him and offer him the best care and therapy and interventions that can bring him along.”

The HSE also disputed the link made between the diagnoses of hydrocephalus and autism. In light of these concerns, Joe’s mother was advised to accept the compensation settlement on her son’s behalf. The judge then approved the settlement,  noting the should the case have a full hearing, the HSE may win the dispute. Judge Cross closed by wishing Joe and his family well for the future.