At the High Court an eight-year-old boy has had an €22.5m brain damage at birth compensation settlement approved. He had contracted meningitis infection in the days after his birth.
An apology was read out in court by Cork University Maternity Hospital to the boy in question, Calum Spillane and his family, in relation to “the delay in diagnosing Calum’s infection and the injuries he suffered. We can only express our sincere regret to you and your family for what has happened and wish you both and your two boys Calum and Tom the very best for the future.
“CUMH have learned important lessons from your experience and we continue to educate out staff regarding the importance of optimal communication and escalation across all our multidisciplinary team.”
The settlement is one of the highest before the High Court for a person who has suffered extensive brain damage at birth.
Calum’s legal counsel Dr John O’Mahony SC informed the court that the young boy’s speech is “enormously limited” and he suffers with dyskinetic cerebral palsy requiring 24-hour care and is confined to a wheelchair.
Dr O’Mahony continued: “He was born in good condition and a bad infection developed. The hospital were not alert when they should have been, Calum developed meningitis and there were devastating personal sequelae for him and for the rest of his life.”
In the legal action it was alleged that there was a delay, following Calum’s birth on August 1, 2012, in diagnosing and treating his Group B streptococcal infection to the point where it progressed to the stage where he suffered meningitis and significant brain injury. In addition to this it was also alleged there was a failure to ensure the proper assessment of the baby when midwifery personnel had recorded their concerns for the baby on three occasions on the afternoon/evening of August 2.
Liability was accepted in the case and the settlement was agreed by all parties in the legal action.
Speaking to the court following the approval of the settlement, the family said they hope their son will now receive the treatment he needs. Calum’s mother Linda informed Mr Justice Kevin Cross how Calum and her family have suffered. She said: “We want him now to have a team working with him and to have one to one for speech and other therapies. He always has a big smile on his face and he is very sociable.”
In approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he felt it was a good one and should not be thought of as a “bonus” by anybody. Rather it is to provide assistance and treatment to Calum for the remainder of his life. He concluded by wishing the family well for the future and praised the parents for the support that they have provided to Calum.