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Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Failing to Diagnose a Hearing Impairment

A €340,000 settlement of compensation for failing to diagnose a hearing impairment has been approved by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court in Cork.

Clodagh Enright from Knocknagoshel in County Tipperary was just four years old in April 2006 when her parents expressed concerns about her speech to the local health nurse. The nurse referred Clodagh to the audiology department of her local hospital, where she underwent a hearing test.

The test failed to identify any problems with Clodagh´s hearing, but her parents´ concerns continued. In May 2007, a second hearing test was arranged that revealed Clodagh had a significant hearing impairment. Clodagh subsequently underwent a cochlear implant and had hearing aids fitted to help improve her hearing.

After receiving a medical opinion that Clodagh´s hearing would not have deteriorated to such a degree if the impediment had been diagnosed after the first test, Clodagh´s mother – Eileen – claimed compensation for failing to diagnose a hearing impairment against the Health Service Executive (HSE) on her daughter´s behalf.

It was alleged in the legal action that Clodagh´s education had suffered because of the hearing impediment. The HSE admitted liability for the misdiagnosis and a €340,000 settlement of compensation for failing to diagnose a hearing impairment was agreed. However, as the claim had been made on behalf of a child, the settlement had to be approved by a judge.

Consequently, at the approval hearing at the High Court in Cork, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told about the two hearing tests and the consequences of the misdiagnosis on the first one. After hearing that Clodagh had received extra tuition to help her catch up with her education, Judge Cross approved the settlement – ordering that it be paid into court funds until Clodagh becomes a legal adult in four years.

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