A four-year-old boy who has been left severely brain damaged after a failure to diagnose and treat a bacterial infection in time has settled his High Court action with an interim payout of €2.4m.

Eoghan Dunne was just weeks short of his first birthday when he was brought to A&E Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, with a fever on August 3, 2012. He was breathless and lethargic.

His counsel, Bruce Antoniotti, told the High Court Eoghan should have been given antibiotics straight away, as the results of tests should have raised the alarm. He said his experts would say the tests indicated a bacterial infection.

Mr Antoniotti said his side could not say no damage would have occurred in that event, but that damage may have been minor, if any.

Eoghan was transferred to Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Dublin, but at this stage he was in septic shock.

Eoghan suffered a cardiac arrest at 6.45am on August 4, 2012, and it took 10 minutes to resuscitate him.

Eoghan was diagnosed with a severe necrotising pneumonia and sepsis with multi-organ failure.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told Eoghan has cerebral palsy, cannot walk or stand unaided, and has to be fed through a peg tube. He is also partially blind.

Counsel said that, in a letter to Eoghan parents, Teresa and Ronan Dunne, the general manager of Portiuncla Hospital, James Keane, sincerely apologised for the failings in Eoghan’s care on August 3 and 4, 2012.

“I also wish to apologise for the manner in which the internal hospital review was undertaken and communicated to you both at that time,” Mr Keane wrote. “As you are aware, a full HSE review is ongoing into all aspects of Eoghan’s care.”

Via his mother Teresa, Eoghan Dunne, of Cappyroe, Ballinagar, Tullamore, Co Offaly, sued the HSE as a result of the failings in his care at Portiuncla Hospital. The court heard full liability was admitted this week.

Mrs Dunne told the court her son had his first birthday while in a coma.

“I will never see my son take his first steps, play football, go to college, or fall in love, but he has a family who love him, who will make sure he has a good life and we will next week have a party to celebrate his fifth birthday and his life,” she said.

Approving the interim payment for the next four years, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said that despite criticism of what he described as “compensation culture”, litigation was sometimes the only way families like the Dunnes could get justice.


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