Girl (9) settles case over delay in hearing loss diagnosis for €300,000

It was claimed there were a number of alleged failures in the child’s early audiological management.
Girl (9) settles case over delay in hearing loss diagnosis for €300,000

High court reporters

A 9-year-old girl whose hearing loss was not picked up for over three years has settled her High Court action for €300,000.

Shirley Collins, the High Court heard had her first hearing test when she was just over a year old but hearing loss of mild to moderate severity was only diagnosed when she had another test when she was four years old.

It was claimed there were a number of alleged failures in the child’s early audiological management.

Her Counsel Hugh O Keeffe SC with Doireann O’Mahony BL said it was their case as a result of the delay in diagnosis it may have impacted on the girl’s speech and language.

He said the girl is one of a number of children identified in an HSE “look back” review of audiology services in the West between 2011 and 2015. The HSE later apologised for failures identified in the review of paediatric audiology services in Mayo and Roscommon and found out of 995 cases examined, 49 children had been affected. Thirteen children were retested and identified as having a hearing loss.

Shirley Collins of Ballina, Co Mayo had through her mother Michelle Collins sued the HSE.

When she was nine months old, the girl was tested for hearing as part of a developmental health check, but she failed it and was referred to the audiology service at Mayo University Hospital.

It was claimed an audiometric assessment took place on June 19th, 2014 when she was over a year old at the hospital and it was contended there were a number of alleged failures in that assessment.

A diagnosis it is claimed of normal hearing was made and it is claimed no pure tone testing of any kind was attempted.

She was recalled for a further test in 2017 when she was 4 years old and a hearing loss of mild to moderate severity was diagnosed.

It was claimed had Shirley’s hearing loss been identified in the first hospital test in 2014, she would have had a comprehensive audiological management plan in place including liaison with speech and language services. She got grommets in her ears in May 2018 and her mother reported that her hearing improved.

It was claimed her undiagnosed hearing loss resulted in delayed identification and management of her hearing impairment and allegedly contributed to speech and language delay.

The HSE admitted a breach of duty in the case in relation to the delay in diagnosis, but denied all other claims.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was a fair and reasonable settlement and he wished the girl and her family all the best for the future.

Following the settlement, the family's solicitor, Ciaran Tansey, said the Collins family were "delighted that today’s outcome will allow Shirley to undergo the panoply of treatments she needs".

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