Matthew awarded €3.7m for injuries

A 12-year-old boy who was left paralysed after hospital treatment for meningitis has settled his action against the HSE with an interim payout of €3.7m.

Matthew awarded €3.7m for injuries

To describe Matthew McGrath’s injuries as catastrophic is an understatement, his counsel told the High Court yesterday. The boy is completely paralysed and cannot move his arms or legs and can only breathe through a ventilator.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that Matthew was admitted to Wexford General Hospital with an infection when he was 17 months old and, if he had been treated with antibiotics and fluids when his condition deteriorated, he would have been spared the devastating injuries he suffered.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said the €3.7m payout was a very good settlement.

Matthew, of Acacia, Kilmurray, Gorey, Co Wexford, had, through his mother Cathy, sued the HSE as a result of his treatment at Wexford General Hospital when he was a baby.

It was claimed there was a delay in diagnosing his condition and treating him for infection and in particular with antibiotics. It was further claimed that a lumbar puncture performed on the then 17-month old baby was contraindicated and, as a result, he suffered injury.

The court heard that €3.73m is in part settlement of Matthew’s claim. The remainder of the case will be decided in five years’ time when the case comes back before the court.

There was also an admission of liability in the case and an apology which the boy’s solicitor Roger Murray read outside the court.

In the apology, the HSE said Wexford General Hospital wished to offer its sincere apology to Matthew and his parents Alan and Cathy McGrath in relation the events following his admission to the hospital on May 27, 2004.

“The hospital extends unreservedly its unequivocal and heartfelt apology for the shortcomings in the care provided and the suffering and distress that this has caused,” said the HSE

Ms McGrath described the apology as heartfelt and said “there is a certain unexpected peace in the admission of liability”.

Desmond O’Neill, SC for Matthew, told the High Court he was 17 months old when he was referred to Wexford General Hospital by a doctor when he was noted to be drowsy and vomiting fluids. Mr O’Neill said the boy’s condition deteriorated in hospital and he was clearly in shock. The court heard he was suffering from Haemophilus Influenza Type B, which can lead on to meningitis and he should have been treated with antibiotics and fluids.

Mr O’Neill said if this had happened, the boy could have been spared the devastating injuries he suffered. The next morning, said Mr O’Neill, a lumbar puncture was carried out which was contraindicated when a child was in shock and a compression of the spinal chord took place. “He is now completely paralysed but is a bright intelligent, cheekful boy who goes to school and follows rugby,” said Mr O’Neill.

As a baby, he said, Matthew had had to spend two years in hospital but, as a result of a campaign by his parents, he was allowed to be cared for at home.

“Matthew is a cheekful and energetic boy who is a fully involved member of society as far as he can be with his limitation,” Mr O’Neill said.

The senior counsel said the boy’s parents had willingly and lovingly taken on the care of their son, which was 24-hour care.

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