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.

Family Seek Compensation for Post-Operative Infection

The family of a woman who died from organ failure following a routine operation, have begun claiming compensation for their loss.

On the 13th July 2013, Susan McGee – a fifty-two year-old mother of two from Rush, Co. Dublin – was admitted t the Hermitage Medical Clinic. Susan was to undergo an operation to remove a hernia; initially deemed successful, Susan was discharged a few days later to the care of Melissa Barry, one of her children.

However, just one day after her discharge Susan began feeling unwell and experiencing pain and discomfort in her stomach. She and her daughter returned to the medical centre where she was readmitted for observation. Yet Susan continued to worsen, and a CAT scan conducted on the 22nd July showed that she had an obstruction in her intestine.

An emergency operation was carried out to help clear the blockage, though Susan did not improve. The next day, she was moved to Beaumont Hospital, where she tragically died on the 24th July. Her cause of death was multiple organ failure caused by sepsis, which was in turn caused by a  Clostridium difficile infection.

In February 2015, an inquest was carried out into the circumstances of Susan’s death. However, it was adjourned as only the consultants overseeing Susan’s care gave statements. There was an additional risk that the evidence provided by the nurses at the hospital would be contradicted by Melissa’s testimony.

The case reconvened in June 2015 at the Dublin City Coroner’s Court. There, the court heard that the medical staff had not noticed that there was faecal fluid draining from Susan’s nasogastric tube. Additionally, there was a gap in the records of Susan’s vital signs between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm on the 21st July, just three days before her death.

Whilst Susan was at the hospital, there was just one resident medical officer on duty, Dr Lachman Pahwani. Whilst speaking during the hearing, Dr Pahwani claimed that he had devoted as much time as possible to Susan whilst she was under his care, but that he had another eighty-one patients to care for during that period.

The court ruled that Susan died because of medical misadventure and once the hearing concluded, Susan’s family announced their intent to claim for wrongful death due to a fatal post-surgical infection, medical negligence and bereavement due to medical negligence.

Teenager Compensated for Brain Injuries Sustained at Birth

A seven-figure settlement of medical negligence compensation has been approved by the High Court for injuries sustained by a  eighteen year-old boy as an newborn.

On the 16th September 1996, Thomas O’Connor was delivered via Caesarean Section at the Sligo General Hospital. However, upon his birth he showed no signs of life and had to be resuscitated using a tube to provide oxygen. Then, on his way to Intensive Care, baby Thomas suffered a heart attack. Once again, the newborn had to be brought back to life.

As a result of both of these incidents, Thomas was deprived of oxygen and sustained devastating damage to his brain. The damage has rendered him a spastic quadriplegic that requires round-the-clock care. Thomas, who is also blind and requires a tube for feeding, lives in a residential care home in Co. Sligo, close to his family.

Thomas’ mother, Ann, made a claim on her son’s behalf against Sligo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive. In the claim, she alleged that she had received inadequate care before the birth of her son. Additionally, she claims that Thomas’ heart attack was a direct consequence of  the improper insertion of his breathing tube.

However, both parties denied that they were liable for Thomas’ condition and contested Ann’s claim for birth injury compensation. The case proceeded to Dublin’s High Court, where it was overseen by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

During the hearing, an expert witness told the judge that, despite a CTG scan conducted the morning before Thomas’ showing that he was suffering from foetal distress syndrome, there was an unnecessary delay of up to four hours in his delivery.

The witness also told the court that the tube used to ventilate Thomas after his first resuscitation had not been inserted in accordance with established guidelines. Rather than the recommended insertion depth of 9 to 10 cm, the tube had been inserted to 14 cm. This meant that Thomas was not adequately ventilated, leading to the heart attack.

The hearing proceeded for a total of four weeks, after which the HSE agreed to pay €1.75 million in compensation to Thomas. This was then approved by Judge Cross, who expressed his relief that the drawn-out ordeal was over for the O’Connors.


The High Court in Dublin has approved a compensation settlement for medical negligence to a woman whose knee fracture was missed upon initial examination.

Amy Rose McGowan (31) was in training to participate in the Special Olympics World Games when she fell and damaged her knee while practicing  for the 50 metre race. She was immediately brought to Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, where she was attended to. X-rays were taken of the area, and she was told that she suffered soft tissue damage to her knee. The joint was strapped for support, and she was released without further care.

However, a month after the accident, Amy Rose developed increased pain in the area. She consulted her GP, who subsequently diagnosed Amy Rose with a depressed fracture. The injury had been overlooked at the hospital during her initial consultation. Unfortunately, due to the late diagnoses, it was too late to perform the necessary corrective surgery. Amy Rose was no longer able to train to compete in the Special Olympics in Athens, scheduled to take place in 2011.

On behalf of her daughter, Charlotte McGowan made a claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE) for compensation due to the missed knee fracture. She stated that the initial care her daughter had received had been negligent, as well as the missed diagnoses. An investigation was launched into the case.

The HSE admitted liability to the missed diagnoses. They acknowledged that the emergency department overlooked the depressed fracture upon initial inspection. The defendants made an offer of €142,000 as a settlement, which Charlotte agreed upon on behalf of her daughter. However, due to Amy Rose’s intellectual disability, the sum had to be approved by a judge in court.

Mr Justice Michael Peart heard how the athlete’s career had been cut short as a result of the accident, and expressed pity at this statement. Amy Rose had won 34 medals and 10 trophies over her career as a swimmer and athlete, but was unable to continue due to the incident. The judge approved the settlement offered by the HSE.



The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has received a report indicating that most claims for GP malpractice are the result of missed or delayed diagnoses.

The report, compiled by the Centre for Primary Care Research in Dublin, revealed that such claims for compensation frequently featured cases such as medication errors or missed diagnoses. The delay in diagnoses of colon cancer and breast cancer were altogether the cause of more claims of malpractice against GPs than any other form of such medical negligence.

The primary aim of the report was to identify which areas of primary medical care should be the focus of future educational strategies for the medical profession, and when developing risk management systems for such professionals.

Along with breast and colon cancer, cancers of the skin, female genital tract and lungs were all frequently misdiagnosed or identified late. The report indicated that appendicitis and meningitis in were the illnesses most likely to be misdiagnosed in children.

Dr Emma Wallace – the lead researcher of the new report-acknowledged that one of the reasons for the surge of late or missed diagnoses is due to the increase in the number of patients being referred to consultants, often unnecessarily. The number of malpractice claims against GPs in Ireland continues to increase, causing doctors to practice more defensively, this causing the increase in the number of referrals.

According to Dr Wallace, doctors facing such claims offer a reduced level of service and care due to the stress that is associated with such a malpractice allegation. Therefore, more patients are at placed at risk of a medication error or missed diagnosis as a result.

She commented that such a review is “timely considering the increased interest in focusing on primary care as a way of improving patient care and safety”, hoping that a review of this nature would provide an insight into the best way forward in reducing the number of GP malpractice claims in Ireland.