Boy, 7, settles case against hospital over delayed hip diagnosis for €120k

Boy, 7, settles case against hospital over delayed hip diagnosis for €120k

The Rotunda Hospital admitted a breach of duty in the case. File photo: Mark Stedman

A boy who claimed there was a delay in the diagnosis of a problem with his hips after his birth at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin has settled his High Court action for €120,000.

Michael O’Connell who is now seven years old had to have an operation on his hip two years ago after his GP first noted a hip problem when he was four months old.

In the High Court today Michael’s Counsel, Alan Keating BL, instructed by Rachael Liston solicitor, said it was their case the baby should have been screened for hip instability on his birth according to the hip screening protocol in place at the hospital.

The Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told, admitted a breach of duty in the case. The hospital admits that on October 28, 2013, the baby was discharged home without the protocol having been followed as required. It also admits liability in relation to the delay in diagnosis of the baby’s hip problem for the period from October 28, 2013, to April 15, 2014.

Counsel told the court there were issues in relation to causation but the settlement had been reached after mediation.

Counsel said it was their case that the hospital did not follow the protocol which would have included the baby being monitored and regular ultrasounds being carried out over a period of weeks and months. If this had been done, counsel said, there would have been a different outcome for the baby.

Mr Keating said the boy had surgery in 2018. It took him several weeks to recover. He is now running and walking and in a much better position than his parents had initially feared.

Details of Michael O’Connell's case

Michael O'Connell, Butterfield Orchard, Rathfarnham, Dublin, had through his mother Elizabeth O'Connell sued the Rotunda Hospital.

Michael was delivered by caesarean section on October 24, 2013, at the Dublin hospital.

It was claimed in Michael’s case the hip screening protocol, which allows for the clinical examination for hip instability after babies are born with back-up ultrasounds and follow up X-rays, was not followed.

It is claimed he was discharged home three days after his birth with an entry stating that the hip examination was normal.

On February 14, 2014, when the baby was brought to his GP on another matter, the doctor advised he have an X-ray of his hips. Michael had the X-ray and in May 2014 was referred to a consultant.

Mild left-sided developmental dysplasia, where the ball and socket joint at the hip does not properly form, was diagnosed by the consultant.

His parents were told he would need to have surgery and after several reviews had the operation when he was over four years of age.

It is claimed Michael had been denied the opportunity of availing of the screening mandated by the protocol and the early detection of his mild dysplasia and subsequent effective nonsurgical treatment for it.

It was alleged the failure to employ the steps mandated by the protocol meant the baby was denied early non-invasive treatment and it also means in later life he will need a hip replacement 10 years earlier than would normally be the case.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was an excellent one.

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