Court approves €3m settlement for girl who suffered brain damage after surgery

Chloe suffered brain damage which was catastrophic, and she has been physically disabled, requiring a wheelchair and has been mentally challenged since then. She will require care for the rest of her life.
Court approves €3m settlement for girl who suffered brain damage after surgery

A €3 million interim settlement has been approved by the High Court for a girl who suffered brain damage after she was allegedly discharged from hospital without antibiotics following cranial surgery when she was 18 months old.

Chloe Flaherty, now 14, is physically disabled and mentally challenged. She was discharged from the Children's University Hospital, Temple Street, in Dublin in 2009 without antibiotic cover or prescription despite having required antibiotics up to the day of her discharge, it was claimed.

Liability was not admitted by the hospital.

The action by Chloe was taken through her father Patrick Flaherty, Radharc Na Farraige, Ballymoneen Road, Knocknacarra, Galway.

Surgery

Chloe underwent surgery in the Children’s University Hospital when she was one-and-a-half years old.

Her counsel Des O'Neill SC, said the operation involved the opening of the skull and after the surgery she was detained in hospital for ten days suffering spikes in temperature which required intravenous and oral antibiotics throughout her stay.

She was discharged without any antibiotic cover or plan, he said. Over the following week her high temperatures continued, and the parents received assurances her recovery was to be expected, and the temperatures should be dealt with by giving her Calpol and analgesics.

These reduced the temperature but did not address the underlying situation, he said.

A week later, she was found lying on her side and “continued to fit for at least an hour” before she was taken to hospital by ambulance. She had suffered brain damage which was catastrophic, and she has been physically disabled, requiring a wheelchair and has been mentally challenged since then. She will require care for the rest of her life.

There was a significant dispute on liability, counsel said.

Heroic

Her parents, Patrick and Samantha Flaherty, have "heroically kept Chloe's needs to the forefront for the last 12 years, he said. Both have not been able to engage in any work since her release from hospital.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey was satisfied the interim settlement was reasonable and approved it. He gave his best wishes to the Flahertys who were in court.

Through her father, Chloe sued the hospital claiming, among other things, it failed to take measures she was free from infection prior to discharge, failing to clarify the cause of her persistent high temperatures, and failing to provide sufficient information or advice to the parents on discharge about monitoring for further infection.

The claims were denied.

Ten-year battle

Outside court Ciaran Tansey, for the family solicitors, said the settlement marked the culmination of a ten-year battle by the Flahertys on behalf of Chloe.

It was one of the largest in the history of the courts as it will return to court in four years time with full liability accepted to provide for her care for the rest of her life, he said.

In 2009, he said things "went horribly wrong" for Chloe in terms of the treatment she received. The battle was settled on the steps of the court last Friday.

"That said today's settlement will never offer adequate recompense for Chloe and Samantha and Patrick", he said.

"While she will be looked after financially, far more important is the care and love that has been offered to her for the past 12 years by the two people standing beside me, her the parents”, he said.

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