An improper diagnosis at birth compensation award of €22.5m has been awarded to an eight-year-old boy been awarded €22.5m after the High Court ruled that he should have been treated for a viral infection more quickly by the physicians tending to him.
The legal action claimed that there was a delay, following Calum Spillane’s delivery on August 1 2012, in diagnosing and administering proper treatment for a Group B streptococcal infection. This delay caused the infection to spread and develop into meningitis, leading to a significant brain injury being sustained by the infant. An additional claim of negligence was filed in relation to the fact that at no point in time was an acceptable examination of the child completed, even though midwives had been tracking the development of his illness on three separate occasions during the afternoon/evening of August 2.
Dr John O’Mahony SC, representing Calum and his family in the High Court, said the young boy’s speech is “enormously limited” as a result of his dyskinetic cerebral palsy and he is confined to his wheelchair. He needs 24-hour care. Mr O’Mahony said: “He was born in good condition and a bad infection developed. The hospital were not alert when they should have been, Calum developed meningitis and there were devastating personal sequelae for him and for the rest of his life.”
An apology from Cork University Maternity Hospital to Calum and his family was read out in the High Court, stating regret due to “the delay in diagnosing Calum’s infection and the injuries he suffered.”
It continued: “We can only express our sincere regret to you and your family for what has happened and wish you both and your two boys Calum and Tom the very best for the future. CUMH have learned important lessons from your experience and we continue to educate out staff regarding the importance of optimal communication and escalation across all our multidisciplinary team.”
The boy’s mother, Linda Spillane, addressed the Judge following the settlement approval, commenting that she, along with her family, wish for Calum to now be given the treatment he requires. She said: “We want him now to have a team working with him and to have one to one for speech and other therapies. He always has a big smile on his face and he is very sociable.”
Mediation talks led to the approved settlement, one of the highest in the history of the State.