A €5.6 million settlement of meningitis misdiagnosis compensation has been approved at the High Court in favour of a fifteen-year-old girl from County Cork.
On July 2005, the concerned parents of a three-year-old girl from Ballinalough in County Cork phoned the South Doc service to express concerns about their daughter´s condition. After explaining that their daughter was suffering from nausea, drowsiness and a high temperature – and had developed a rash on her stomach – they were told to bring their daughter to the clinic for an examination.
The family arrived at 5:00am and the little girl was examined by Dr Leon Britz, who diagnosed tonsillitis and told the family to go home. However, the girl´s condition deteriorated and – at 9:30am – the family returned to the clinic where, after an examination by another doctor, she was diagnosed with meningitis and taken to the Emergency Department of Cork University Hospital.
Once antibiotics were administered at Cork University Hospital, the girl was transferred to Our Lady´s Children´s Hospital where she had to have both legs amputated below the knee. The girl subsequently underwent 132 operations over the next twelve years to deal with other health issues that were caused by the meningitis and that could have been avoided with a correct initial diagnosis.
The girl´s mother made a meningitis misdiagnosis compensation claim on her daughter´s behalf against Dr Britz and South West Doctors on Call Ltd. It was alleged in the claim that the misdiagnosis of meningitis constituted negligence on the part of the doctor and that South West Doctors on Call Ltd was vicariously liable for the “profound consequences” of the initial misdiagnosis.
Liability was admitted for the misdiagnosis and the girl´s subsequent injuries. A settlement of the meningitis misdiagnosis compensation claim amounting to €5.6 million was agreed between the parties; but, as the claim had been made on behalf of a minor, the settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the girl´s best interests.
At the approval hearing at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told about the visits to the South Doc service on 10th July 2005 and that, had antibiotics been administered at an earlier stage, many of the consequences of the girl´s condition could have been avoided. Judge Cross approved the settlement of meningitis misdiagnosis compensation and praised the girl´s parents for the care they had provided – commenting that the outcome could have been a lot worse.