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Child Meningitis Compensation Claim settled at £142,000

The mother of a two year old girl, who died after contracting meningitis, has been awarded more than £142,000 in a child meningitis compensation claim after the hospital in which the little girl died admitted errors in the way they handled her condition.

Natalie Courtney (28) took her daughter, Aisling, to hospital on February 19 2006, after (she) Aisling had started suffering from hallucinations and a sore neck. The examining doctor diagnosed her as having a 24-hour viral gastric bug and being dehydrated. Natalie requested that Aisling be kept in for overnight observation and stayed with her daughter throughout.

After the original examination, a rash developed on Aisling’s back and, early in the morning of February 19, Aisling was placed on a drip. She then developed purple spots on her skin, and Natalie was informed that Aisling was being treated for meningitis.

Aisling’s condition became much worse and she was moved into the hospital’s intensive care unit. But, at 10.25am, Aisling had a heart attack and died. The shock was completely overwhelming for Natalie who, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neil heard at the High Court, became socially withdrawn and developed feelings of guilt due to her failure to intervene in her daughter’s treatment and demand more appropriate action. After seeking legal counsel, Natalie sued the hospital for nervous shock arising from Aisling’s death, claiming that she had suffered depressive injuries as a result of the manner in which she had witnessed her child’s death.

The hospital conceded the liability late last year – extending and aggravating Natalie’s feelings – and Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neil accounted for this lack of admission in awarding Natalie £142,000 plus an amount to cover the costs associated with legal representation at the inquest into Aisling’s death.