Hospital apology after young boy left paralysed

By Esther Hayden

Published 28/04/2015 | 00:00

Matthew McGrath leaving court last week with his family.
Matthew McGrath leaving court last week with his family.

A 12-year-old Gorey boy who has been left paralysed after hospital treatment for meningitis at Wexford General Hospital has settled his action against the HSE with an interim payout of €3.7million.

Matthew McGrath, Acacia, Kilmurry, Gorey, had through his mother Catherine 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 treating him for the infection and in particular with antibiotics. The young boy is completely paralysed and cannot move his arms or legs and can only breathe through a ventilator.

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 settlement with an interim payment of €3.73million for the next five years also included an admission of liability 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.'

Cathy McGrath described the apology as heartfelt and said 'there is a certain unexpected peace in the admission of liability'. She said the apology wasn't going to change anything but 'it does give a sense of peace'.

Senior Counsel Desmond O'Neill told the High Court Matthew was 17 months old when in May 2004, he was referred to Wexford General Hospital by a doctor when he was noted to be drowsy and vomiting fluids. Counsel said the boy's condition deteriorated in hospital and the baby was clearly in shock.

The court heard the boy was suffering from Haemophilus Influenza Type B which can lead on to meningitis and he should have been treated antibiotics and fluids.

Counsel said if this had happened the boy could have been spared the devastating injuries he suffered.

The next morning, Counsel said a lumbar puncture was carried out which was contra indicated when a child was in shock.

'He is now completely paralysed but is a bright intelligent, cheerful boy who goes to school and follows rugby', he said. The High Court heard that to describe Matthew's injuries as catastrophic is an understatement,

Speaking after the judgement Matthew's mother Cathy said: 'This is the end of a fight for us. There is a certain unexpected peace in the admittance of liability for the error and damage caused. Life is still the same for us but we don't have to take on the system any more. But we still have to deal with the daily challenges of caring for Matthew and this ensures that Matthew continues too receive excellent care without the worry of being subjected to budget cuts.

'We, as a family, recognise and thank all who have given Matthew such excellent care over the past years particularly Crumlin Children's Hospital, our local GP and all his fantastic home care nurses and some of the front line staff and suppliers within the HSE.'

She also paid tribute to their legal team for 'believing in us from the beginning and instilling in us the courage to get this outcome.'

Wexford People

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