The High Court has approved a €3m interim settlement for a girl who sustained significant brain injuries when, it is claimed, she was allowed to return home without the correct antibiotics in the aftermath of a cranial surgical procedure.
14-year-old Chloe Flaherty, who was just 18 months old at the time of the operation, is now physically disabled and mentally challenged.
In 2009 she was permitted to leave Children’s University Hospital at Temple Street in Dublin. However, her treatment team did not ensure that the young child had antibiotic cover. despite having required antibiotics up to the day of her discharge. The hospital has not accepted liability for Chloe’s injuries.
Chloe sued Children’s University Hospital, via her father Patrick Flaherty. Representing the family in court, Des O’Neill SC informed the Judge Justice Paul Coffey that Chloe’s brain operation included opening her skull. After surgery she was held in hospital for a period of ten days due to experiencing spikes in her temperature. During this time she was administered with intravenous and oral antibiotics.
Upon discharge she was not provided with an antibiotic cover or plan. she continued to suffer with temperature spikes. Her parents were assured that this was to be expected and were advised to give their child Calpol and analgesics. While this did address her temperature issues it did nothing for the the underlying situation that she was suffering from according to Mr O’Neill.
Tragically, just a week later Chloe was discovered lying on her side and “continued to fit for at least an hour” prior to being rushed to hospital by ambulance. It was discovered, at the hospital that she has sustained catastrophic brain damage which had left her physically disabled. As a result she has needed been mentally challenged and has been confined to a wheelchair since that time. The court was informed that she will need full time care for the remainder of her life.
It was alleged that the hospital allowed the child to return home without ensuring that she was free from infection, identifying the cause of her temperatures spikes, and failing to provide her parent with proper information in relation to recognising further infection.
The hospital refuted all of these claims.
Justice Paul Coffey remarked me that Chloe’s parents, Patrick and Samantha O’Flaherty, have “heroically kept Chloe’s needs to the forefront for the last 12 years” and have not been able to maintain a full-time job since the day that their daughter was released from hospital. He added that he was happy to approve the interim settlement and gave his best wishes to the Flahertys.
Speaking outside of court solicitor for the O’Flahertys Ciaran Tansey said the settlement was the result of a 10-year battle. He added that it was one of the largest compensation settlements in the State. The case is due to be heard again in four years time with full liability accepted to provide for her care for the rest of her life.
He said: “That said, today’s settlement will never offer adequate recompense for Chloe and Samantha and Patrick. While she will be looked after financially, far more important is the care and love that has been offered to her for the past 12 years by the two people standing beside me, her the parents”.