Hospital apologises after death of boy, 8

A hospital has apologised to the parents of an eight-year-old boy who died 18 hours after he was discharged from its emergency department & with a prescription.

Richard de Souza, who had chicken pox, died when toxins overwhelmed his body as an infection took hold. His counsel told the High Court if Richard, of Hollands Avenue, Athy, Co Kildare, had been admitted to hospital and given antibiotics intravenously, it was a high probability that it would have dealt with the infection and saved his life.

The apology was read to the court as part of a settlement of the damages action of Richard’s parents, Flavia Helena de Souza and Ralmon Rodriquez de Souza, as a result of the death of their son in Feb 2011, for €160,000.

In the apology, the management and staff of Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, expressed its “sincere sympathy and regret to the de Souza family in respect of the tragic death of Richard as a result of a streptococcal infection following his attendance, treatment and discharge from the emergency department on the evening prior to his death.”

John O’Mahony, counsel for the family, said Richard’s parents, who are Brazilian, are completely lost without their son. Both parents, he said, have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

The boy’s parents had sued the HSE for damages as a result of the wrongful death and for nervous shock suffered by them as a result.

The couple had brought their son to the emergency department & of the hospital, at 4.27pm on Sunday, Feb 6, 2011, and were seen by a triage nurse.

The de Souzas told staff of the chicken pox spots and said their primary concern was a large swelling on Richard’s left side.

It was claimed Richard was complaining of a swelling under his left arm which was hot to touch and that he was cursorily examined by a doctor who diagnosed he was suffering an infection from chicken pox and prescribed medication for three days.

It is claimed the doctor failed to admit Richard to the hospital for observation.

That night, Richard was very thirsty while in bed and kept requesting drinks from his father. He was later found to be delirious. When his father, who is a jockey, was going for a ride out at 5.30am, he gave his son his antibiotics.

At 10.30am, Richard told his mother he wanted to vomit but lost consciousness. An ambulance crew found he was in cardiac arrest and rushed him to the hospital in Portlaoise where he was declared dead.

It was claimed had Richard been admitted to the hospital on Feb 6 and placed on observation on a ward, his deterioration would have been apparent from an early stage and appropriate interventions would have resulted.

It was further claimed that there was a failure to admit Richard to the hospital and a failure to identify or bear in their assessment the fact that Richard had or may have had streptococcus, which was associated with chicken pox, and could cause extremely serious consequences.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine, approving the settlement, noted the apology and offered her sincere sympathies to the de Souza family on “the very tragic death of Richard.”


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