Cork woman (24) settles her case for alleged delay in diagnosis of her hearing loss for €850,000

Gemma Healy from Clonakilty, Co Cork was brought for tests to the HSE audiological services in Cork when she was a toddler and was told the hearing was normal in both ears, the High Court heard
Cork woman (24) settles her case for alleged delay in diagnosis of her hearing loss for €850,000

James and Catherine Healy with daughter Gemma Healy all from Clonakilty West Cork leaving the High Court, Dublin. Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

A 24-year-old woman who had sued over an alleged delay in the diagnosis of her hearing loss when she was young has settled her High Court action for €850,000.

Gemma Healy from Clonakilty, Co Cork was brought for tests to the HSE audiological services in Cork when she was a toddler and was told the hearing was normal in both ears, the High Court heard.

Ms Healy's counsel Conor Kearney BL, instructed by Mark Tiernan solicitor told the court that diagnosis appears to have been incorrect and when Ms Healy was brought to a private audiologist when she was over four years of age the audiologist found a significant hearing loss in her right ear and some loss in her left ear.

Counsel said it was their case that the alleged delay in the initial assessment and problems in the treatment led to significant problems with speech. He said there was complex issues in the case in the area of causation.

Gemma, he said is a bright girl who does her best to get on with things.

Gemma Healy, Ballyvackey, Clonakilty, Co Cork had through her mother Catherine Healy sued the HSE which was responsible for audiological services in County Cork. The HSE was also the owner and operator of audiological care centres at St Finbarr’s Hospital, Cork and on North Main Street, Cork city where she was tested.

When she was one and a half years old Gemma was referred to St Finbarr’s Hospital for audiological examination and testing. She was tested in the hospital and at the facility at North Main Street. It is claimed that notwithstanding the purported testing of her audiological capacity that the HSE allegedly failed properly to diagnose Gemma’s condition and in particular her severe impairment.

Ms Healy's parents it was claimed were considerably concerned regarding their daughters hearing as her mother felt she could not hear a phone held to her right ear.

PRIVATE TESTS

Follow up private testing was arranged and the private audiologist in March 2002 identified a raised level of hearing in Gemma’s right ear.

Follow up private testing in September and October of 2002 it was claimed was suggestive of moderate or severe hearing loss in the right ear. Gemma was then reviewed at the HSE facility at North Main Street, Cork in February 2003 where only a mild hearing loss in the right ear was detected. The child was retested by the private audiologist in October 2003 who again found moderate to severe hearing loss in her right ear.

She was referred back to North Main Street again for the fitting of a hearing aid but subsequent testing it is claimed confirmed Gemma had moderate and severe loss of hearing in her right ear with mild loss in her left ear.

It was claimed she was subjected to treatment with various hearing aid devices since about 2003 and that the treatment was such that it has been allegedly detrimental to the girl’s ability to hear well.

It was claimed Gemma was deprived of the benefit of earlier treatment and that the treatment provided was allegedly inappropriate. Gemma it was contended had been deprived of the timely and early intervention in relation to her hearing loss.

A full defence was filed in the case but Counsel told the court the settlement was reached after mediation.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was a case with complex issues of causation and he was satisfied with the settlement. He wished Ms Healy and her parents all the best.

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