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Interim Settlement of Compensation for the Misdiagnosis of a Chicken Pox Infection Approved in Court

A €2.5 million interim settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of a chicken pox infection has been approved by a judge at the High Court in Dublin.

Eoghan Keating was soon to be celebrating his second birthday when, on 24th August 2012, his parents took him to the Accident and Emergency Department of Waterford Regional Hospital suffering from a high fever and having developed a rash on his abdomen.

Eoghan was diagnosed as having mumps and discharged. His parents – Larry and Martina – were told to treat him with ibuprofen and Carpol if his symptoms continued but, during the night, Eoghan´s health deteriorated. Larry and Martina called the caredoc GP service when Eoghan became lethargic and developed a swelling on his neck, and were told to return to the hospital.

On their return, Eoghan was correctly diagnosed as having a chicken pox infection. He was intubated and ventilated before being transferred to the Children´s Hospital in Dublin. Unfortunately the correct diagnosis had been made too late to prevent the infection causing a brain injury and – now six years of age – Eoghan is tetraplegic and cannot talk.

Martina sought legal advice and claimed compensation for the misdiagnosis of a chicken pox infection on her son´s behalf. In the action against the Health Service Executive (HSE) it was alleged that there had been a failure to identify the indications of a serious infection and admit Eoghan when the family first presented at the Waterford Regional Hospital.

The HSE admitted liability for Eoghan´s brain injury and an interim settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of a chicken pox infection was agreed. As the claim had been made on behalf of a child, the €2.5 million interim settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in Eoghan´s best interests.

Consequently the sequence of events leading up to Eoghan´s brain injury and the consequences of his injury were related to Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court. At the approval hearing, Richard Dooley – the General Manager of Waterford Regional Hospital – read an apology to the court apologising for the “deficiencies in care provided to Eoghan”.

Judge Cross told the Keatings “your suffering cannot be described or defined” before approving the interim settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of a chicken pox infection. The judge then adjourned the case for two years in order that an assessment of Eoghan´s future needs can be conducted.