A nine-year-old boy with cerebral palsy sued Galway’s Portiuncula Hospital for the care provided to him and his mother at the time of his birth.
enry James Neely’s lawyer told the High Court that he had suffered a catastrophic injury and had diplegic cerebral palsy. He has to use a wheelchair and cannot speak or write properly.
At the time of his birth in Galway, Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinaslo, it was claimed that he developed Group B Streptococcus infection and then meningitis and septicemia, becoming critically ill.
Richard Keane SC, with Esther Early BL, said it was Nellis’ case that antibiotics should have been given to the mother (who had a high temperature) and the baby, which would have killed the bacteria in her brain.
Counsel said a medical expert on the Nelly side argued that, if Baby Henry had been started on antibiotics about four hours earlier, the number of bacteria in his blood would have decreased, leading to a reduction in motor and cognitive impairment.
The lawyer said it was his case that there was allegedly substandard treatment at the Portiuncula Hospital, and it should have been clear that the child was at risk of infection.
He said that when Baby Henry was transferred to a Dublin hospital, he received antibiotics, but it was “too little and too late”.
Mr Keane said meningitis and septicemia had infected the brain. Henry was placed in an induced coma for three weeks and was later diagnosed with diplegic cerebral palsy.
The settlement against HSE, which took place after five days of arbitration, is without an acceptance of liability.
Outside the court, Solicitor Keira O’Reilly, the head of litigation at Keynes Solicitors, said the Nellie family is satisfied and relieved that the legal matter has been settled after extremely lengthy and difficult negotiations in arbitration.
“While the matter is now settled, the liability was always there with every aspect of the case challenged in full,” she said.
“Nelli feels that after years of stress and turmoil she has finally been justified and has achieved a great victory for her precious son Henry today.”
He said that when people hear of receiving large amounts of money in matters of this nature, many believe that it must be like winning the lotto for the family.
“As a lawyer specializing in this field, I can assure you that it is definitely not. If the events of August 15, 2012 can be changed, the family will return everything in an instant, and Even more so. It’s certainly not possible, and the secure settlement reflects lost opportunities for Henry,” said Ms. O’Reilly.
She said the outright settlement would not change Henry’s situation or prognosis, but it would allow him to live his life to the best of his abilities, “to which he so little deserves”.
“It will provide him with treatments, assistive technology, assistive devices, tools and much more that he otherwise wouldn’t be able to do,” she said.
Outside the court, Henry’s mother, Deborah Neely, stated that the settlement obtained would meet all of Henry’s needs.
“Henry is now nine years old and a witty, determined and very friendly little boy who always lights up a room with his smile. He has a very close relationship with his brother Luke who is always looking out for him and protects him,” she said.
He thanked his families and close friends for all their support over the years.
Henry James Neely of Ballyglunin, Tuam, Co Galway, through his mother, sued HSE for the care provided at his birth on August 15, 2012, and his care at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co Galway .
Henry’s mother was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital on 14 August 2012. It was claimed that Ms Nally was feeling unwell and complained to the staff that she was feeling extremely hot and having difficulty breathing.
Henry’s delivery took place on 15 August at 2.09 am. It was claimed that there was an alleged failure to properly diagnose, treat and care for the child and the mother.
It was also argued that there was an alleged failure to promptly diagnose that the child’s mother had GBS septicemia and a perceived failure to act on the finding and seek immediate treatment.
It was further claimed that there was an alleged failure to recognize, in a timely manner, the risks associated with the child’s condition and the alleged failure to act and treat the child appropriately and promptly.
There was, it claimed, an alleged failure to administer broad-spectrum intravenous antibiotics to the mother and to initiate fetal monitoring of the child.
It was also claimed that there was an alleged failure to monitor the child after delivery for signs of infection and there was an alleged failure to pay adequate attention to the fact that the child was not feeding properly, was disturbed and infected. was showing symptoms.
All claims were rejected.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was fair and just and added that there were litigation risks in the case. He wished Henry and his family a bright future.