A teenage girl has won compensation from the HSE for an incorrect diagnosis of her hearing impediment, which resulted in her hearing deteriorating before she was tested for a second time.
In April 2006, when Clodagh Enright was only four years of age, when her mother Eileen noticed that she was experiencing difficulty speaking. Concerned for her daughter, she sought medical advice. She contacted the local health nurse responsible for speech and language. The nurse referred Clodagh to the audiology department of her local hospital to have her hearing checked.
The initial hearing test could not find any issues with Clodagh’s hearing. As her daughter was still experiencing difficulties, Eileen Enright persisted with her concerns. A second hearing test was arranged with different medical professionals in May 2007. This time, the test detected Clodagh had a significant hearing impediment.
Clodagh underwent a cochlear implant and had hearing aids fitted to help resolve the problem. Her parents claimed that, had the problem been identified in the first examination, Clodagh´s hearing impediment would not have deteriorated to such an extent before the second test was arranged. Clodagh fell behind in her education due to her impediment, which her parents say was entirely avoidable.
On behalf of her daughter, Eileen made a claim for an avoidable deterioration of hearing against the Health Service Executive (HSE). An admission of liability was made by the HSE and a settlement of the claim negotiated amounting to €340,000.
As the claim for an avoidable deterioration of hearing had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a High Court judge before the claim could be resolved in order to ensure it was in the child’s best interests.
The case was heard in the High Court in Cork by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The judge was told the circumstances of Clodagh´s injury and the progress she had made in the intervening years. The judge approved the settlement, saying it was a good one in the circumstances, and ordered that it be paid into court funds until Clodagh reaches the age of eighteen.