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The surgery took place in Temple Street Children's Hospital. Alamy Stock Photo
Temple Street

Judge directs CHI to provide all records of child who underwent 'botched' spinal surgery

The family requested an injunction be put in place to force CHI to provide all the relevant documentation.

A HIGH COURT judge has directed that all outstanding medical records concerning a young girl who allegedly underwent a “botched” spinal surgery at Temple Street Children’s Hospital be provided to her family’s legal team.

The direction was made by Justice David Nolan in proceedings brought by the girl’s family against Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) – the body that governs paediatric services at Crumlin, Tallaght, Connolly and Temple Street Hospitals returned before the court.

In an action that arises out of her surgery, her family asked the court for orders, including an injunction which requires the CHI to provide them with documents pertaining to all of the girl’s medical records.

The judge said that he was making the direction, but was not prepared at this stage of the proceedings to make any formal orders or injunctions compelling the CHI to provide material to the plaintiffs.

This, the judge added, was because the CHI had assured the court that it will provide any remaining pieces of documentation, including any medical reviews and x-ray scans that had not already been provided.

The judge said that if any of these documents are not provided then the CHI will have to give a full explanation to the court as to why the material has not been furnished.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has Spina Bifida and underwent an operation on her spine at Temple Street which was not successful.

The child, it is claimed, suffered serious postoperative complications, and requires further surgery.

Following media reports about spinal surgeries at Temple Street the family claim they were informed by the defendant that the surgery their child underwent was “inappropriate”.

They were subsequently told that as a result of the “botched” surgery she has a split spine and will require further surgeries and procedures over the coming years.

At the High Court today, John Healy SC appearing with Michael Devitt Bl, instructed by solicitors McGroddy Brennan, had urged the court to make the orders sought, which he said would bring clarity to the matter.

It was accepted that over 6,600 documents had been provided, but certain important matters remain outstanding, counsel said.

Counsel said that his clients have not been provided with certain scans of the girl or material related to a rod that had been surgically inserted into the girl’s back, which became infected, which subsequently needed to be removed.

His clients were also looking for internal medical reviews they believe may have been carried out by the hospital after the girl had undergone surgeries.

In reply Oonah McCrann SC, with Rory White Bl, for the CHI said that her client had fully responded, and had given all the records it has on the child to the plaintiffs, and that the matter is moot.

Counsel said that it would endeavour to address any outstanding matters, and would provide them with the additional material and reviews sought if they exists.

In his ruling Justice Nolan said that he was adjourning the matter for a week to allow the CHI to either provide the material or give a full explanation why it cannot do so.

The judge also paid tribute to the girl’s parents who were in court for the hearing, for the “duty and fortitude” they shown in respect of their daughter’s care.

The judge said that the court’s primary concern was for the welfare of the girl. and expressed its concern about the relationship and level of trust that currently exists between the plaintiffs and the CHI.

The girl is one of 19 children who were the subject matter of a report on patients with Spina Bifida, who underwent spinal surgery at Temple Street.

The family want an injunction requiring the CHI to provide them with all of the child’s outstanding medical records, documentation and information sought.

The materials, they claim, relate to her care following an operation she underwent last year at the hospital.

They want the records and materials assessed by an independent expert.

They also seek the records as they consider what action to take over what the allegedly inappropriate surgery performed on the child, and over the alleged delay in disclosing the errors to the family.

Aodhan O Faolain