Compensation for the Failure to Administer Antibiotics Approved at Court

An interim settlement of €2.4 million compensation for the failure to administer antibiotics has been approved in favour of a five-year-old brain damaged boy.

Eoghan Dunne from Tullamore in County Offaly was just eleven months old when, on 3rd August 2012, he was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe suffering from a fever, breathlessness and lethargy.

Due to his high heart rate and “severe respiratory distress”, Eoghan was transferred to the Temple Street Children´s Hospital in Dublin. He subsequently suffered septic shock and a cardiac arrest. During the cardiac arrest, Eoghan´s brain was starved of oxygen and suffered major neurological damage.

Now five years of age, Eoghan suffers from epilepsy, cannot walk or talk and is visually impaired. He will need twenty-four hour care for the rest of his life.

Following a review of his treatment, Eoghan´s parents claimed compensation for the failure to administer antibiotics when their son was first admitted to the Portiuncula Hospital. It was alleged that, had Eoghan been given antibiotics at the time, the septic shock would not have occurred.

The Portiuncula Hospital and the Health Service Executive denied liability for Eoghan´s injury until earlier this week. An interim settlement of compensation for the failure to administer antibiotics was agreed, and presented to Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court for approval.

At the approval hearing, Judge Cross was told that the hospital was ill-prepared for Eoghan´s admission – despite being forewarned by the family´s GP – and had ignored HSE guidelines for the treatment of sepsis. The court also heard how it there had been “difficulty identifying competent staff to transfer him”.

Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of compensation for the failure to administer antibiotics, commenting that it would be helpful if the HSE admitted liability in such cases so that families such as the Dunne´s did not have to resort to litigation in order to get justice.

Outside the court, Eoghan´s father – Ronan Dunne – echoed Judge Cross´ words when he told reporters Eoghan had lost out on possible therapy and treatment for his injuries at “a vital developmental stage” because of the HSE´s reluctance to admit liability in the case.