The High Court in Dublin has heard details of a claim for injuries caused by an inappropriate lumbar puncture procedure prior to approving a €3.7 million interim settlement of compensation.
Eleven-year-old Matthew McGrath was just seventeen months of age when he was referred to Wexford General Hospital due to being uncharacteristically drowsy and vomiting fluids. Matthew was diagnosed with Haemophilus Influenza Type B on 27th May 2004 – the illness being a known precursor to meningitis, which would normally be treated by antibiotics and the administration of fluids.
Matthew´s condition deteriorated overnight and by the morning he was diagnosed as being in shock. Nonetheless doctors performed a lumbar puncture procedure that day to confirm a diagnosis of suspected meningitis, despite acknowledged medical opinion that the procedure should not be conducted when a patient is in shock.
During the procedure Matthew suffered a compression of his spinal cord, due to which he cannot move his legs or arms. Matthew remained in hospital for two years until his parents successfully campaigned for him to be cared for at home. Matthew´s parents are now his primary carers, as he is unable to live an independent life and can only breathe through a ventilator.
Through his mother – Cathy McGrath from Gorey in County Wexford – Matthew made a claim for injuries caused by an inappropriate lumbar puncture procedure, alleging that if antibiotics and fluids had been administered when Matthew was first admitted to Wexford General Hospital, the lumbar puncture procedure would have been unnecessary and he would not have sustained such devastating injuries.
The HSE admitted liability after an investigation into the circumstances of Matthew´s admission into the hospital and issued Matthew´s parents with an apology. An interim settlement of €3.7 million was agreed in partial settlement of the claim for injuries caused by an inappropriate lumbar puncture procedure but, as the claim was made on behalf of a child, the interim settlement had to be approved by a judge.
At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Matthew Cross heard about the circumstances of Matthew´s admission into Wexford General Hospital. He was also told about the interim settlement of Matthew´s claim for injuries caused by an inappropriate lumbar puncture procedure before approving the settlement.
The judge then adjourned the case for five years so that reports can be compiled for Matthew´s future needs. In five years time – failing the introduction of a periodic payment system – a final settlement of Matthew´s claim for injuries caused by an inappropriate lumbar puncture procedure will be approved.