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High Court approves €12m settlement over hospital care for girl who contracted meningitis

It is claimed there was a failure to admit and treat her for a suspected bacterial infection.

Image: RollingNews.ie

The High Court has approved a €12 million settlement of an action brought by a 9-year-old girl who was not admitted to Sligo General Hospital after she contracted bacterial meningitis. 

The settlement was made in favour of Robyn Kilgallon.

She sued the HSE arising out of the care she received she was brought to Sligo General Hospital A&E Department on 1 February 2011, when she was aged just 10 months.

She claimed the HSE had been negligent on grounds including that there was a failure to admit and treat her for suspected bacterial infection. 

Suing through her mother, Cabrini Fallon of Caltragh Road, Sligo, it was claimed that the failure to admit Robyn when she first presented allowed the condition to progress unchecked resulting in her suffering brain damage. 

Liability in the action was admitted.

Despite being very ill when she first arrived at the hospital her parents were told to take her home. However, due to her poor conditions, they returned 24 hours later.

After being taken to the hospital for the second time she was put in an ICU unit, before being moved to a specialist children’s hospital, in Belfast.

It was there which she was diagnosed as having contracted bacterial meningitis, which resulted in Robyn suffering severe life-lasting brain injuries.

The court heard that on 1 February 2011 Robyn’s parents took her to the hospital following a referral from the family’s GP who was concerned the child had a viral infection.

Despite presenting at the hospital with symptoms including a high temperature, vomiting, her body had gone floppy, and her eyes rolling in the back of her head, Robyn and her parents were told to go home by a junior doctor. 

Her parents say the doctor told them that the results of Robyn’s blood tests did not indicate anything to be concerned about, and took her home.

However, over the next few hours, it was claimed that Robyn’s condition did not improve, and she was readmitted to the hospital on the morning of 2 February.

On that occasions Robyn was very ill, unresponsive and had a seizure. She was taken an intensive care unit and incubated.

Her condition was deemed to serious that doctors at Sligo General deemed that she needed specialist treatment at a children’s hospital 

As there were no spaces available at Crumlin or Temple Street at that time she was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

She spent several days in an isolation unit in the Belfast hospital, where she was diagnosed as having contracted Meningococcal Meningitis a form of bacteria that affects the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

However, despite the treatment she got in Belfast she had already suffered significant brain injuries. 

This it was claimed, was due to the failure to admit and treat her at the Sligo hospital when she first presented.

Today, Robyn’s counsel Alistar Rutherdale Bl, instructed by solicitor Donnacha Anhold told Mr Justice Kevin Cross that the matter had been resolved following a mediation between the parties.

Counsel said that due to her injuries  Robyn, who will celebrate her 10th birthday later this month, has complex medical and physical needs. 

She has significant development delay and has difficulty communicating with others and walking. She will require assistance for the rest of her life.

Counsel said on the balance of probabilities had Robyn been admitted and properly treated with antibiotics when she first presented at the hospital she would not have suffered the catastrophic injuries she sustained.

Counsel said that due to the current situation with the coronavirus it was not possible for Robyn and her mother to attend court today.

Justice Kevin Cross said that he was satisfied to approve the settlement figure, and paid tribute to Robyn’s parents for the great work they have been doing on the daughter’s behalf.

The court was told that Robyn’s mother and her father Declan Kilgallon plan to move to a new home which will be fitted out to accommodate their child’s requirements. 

While the judge said he understood that it had not been easy for the family, he said he hoped the resolution of the case and the settlement would help improve Robyn’s quality of life.

About the author:

Aodhan O Faolain

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