Case News

Tormeys Solicitors settle case for €10m over alleged delay in diagnosis.

A 42-year-old man with a profound brain injury who sued over an alleged delay in diagnosis of his tuberculosis meningitis has settled a High Court action for €10m.

His Counsel Edward Walsh, instructed by Lucy Boyle of Tormeys Solicitors, told the court the man sustained a profound brain injury after two strokes in April and November 2010.

Commenting on the settlement, Lucy Boyle of Tormeys solicitors said, “This is indeed a sad case which involved a series of missed and lost opportunities to diagnose a young man with TB meningitis. Unfortunately, due to those missed opportunities this man’s life has immeasurably changed. The settlement of this medical negligence case for €10m is a great outcome for our client and his family. While this settlement will not change what happened, the money will provide for our client’s care for the duration of his life, which brings great comfort to his family.”

The marketing executive, who was only 30 years of age when he had two strokes 12 years ago, can never work again. He now lives in a residential facility.

Counsel contended that when he first presented to Connolly Hospital, he did not have neck rigidity, suggesting disease was in the early stages and eminently treatable. The settlement against the HSE is without an admission of liability.

He sued the HSE for the care he received between October 2009 and about January 2010 at the Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, Dublin, after he presented with back pain, weight loss and other symptoms. He claims there was an alleged delay in diagnosing tuberculosis meningitis.

A lumbar MRI scan, carried out in a private capacity, in November, was allegedly reported as normal. Counsel said it was their case that the scan in fact showed a 2.5cm mass, if read correctly alarm bells would have sounded, and a tuberculosis meningitis diagnosis made.

He said the man lost 25kg over a number of months and at one stage suffered a blackout on the way to the cinema and later had hallucinations. There were indicators of underlying tuberculosis meningitis which should have warranted a multidisciplinary investigation, counsel said.

The man returned to the hospital on January 17th, 2010, and a five-day history of fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting was recorded. Various tests were carried out and the man’s case was reviewed.

On January 20th, he was transferred to Beaumont Hospital. A repeat lumbar puncture was performed the next day and TB meningitis was noted.

In the proceedings, it was claimed there was an alleged failure to have any regard to the fact that the man looked thin and had lost weight over a number of months. There was an alleged failure to have regard to the history of night sweats, malaise, nausea, headache as well as a history of confusion, disorientation and slurring.

By the evening of January 17th, 2010, there was an alleged failure to put the piece of information together to make tuberculosis a principle diagnosis and to start anti-tubercular treatment. There was an alleged failure to combine lumbar puncture results which showed a high level of protein with clinical information available which clearly pointed to tuberculosis meningitis, it was claimed. All the claims were denied.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was fair and reasonable.