Failure to Diagnose

menA significant volume of the cases brought for Medical Malpractice relate to a failure to diagnosis.

In April of this year the High Court ruled a settlement in a very sad case involving a young boy’s claim for failure to treat Meningitis which he contracted.

Matthew was admitted to Wexford General Hospital in 2004 when 17 months old. His parents had noticed that he was uncharacteristically drowsy and vomiting fluids. He was diagnosed on presentation with Haemophilus Influenza Type B which was known to lead to meningitis. He should have immediately been given a strong antibiotic dose but this was not done. Overnight his condition deteriorated and he went into shock. The issue was then compounded by the Medical Attendants in administering a lumbar puncture when he was already in this condition. This was a completely inappropriate action to take. It led to compression of the spinal cord which left the child permanently paralysed.

It was clear during the course of this action that there had been a failure to administer antibiotics when Matthew was first admitted and that the subsequent lumbar puncture was completely inappropriate. The poor child is now left in a condition where he can move neither his arms nor legs and can only breathe through a ventilator and this after a two year stay in hospital.

In this case the Defendant ultimately admitted liability and issued an apology to Matthew’s parents. Interim Compensation of €3.7m was made and approved by the Court. A provision remains for Matthew’s parents to make further Application at a later date for additional compensatory awards.


* a solicitor may not charge legal fees or levy any other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement


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