A 20-year-old man who sued over a five-month delay in diagnosing his brain tumour has settled his High Court action for more than €6 million.
During the five months, his mother “besieged” Cork University Hospital (CUH) for help for her then 14-year-old son, the High Court heard on Wednesday.
The man, who cannot be named by order of the court, was first referred to the hospital by his GP after he complained of fatigue, migraine and difficulties concentrating. He also complained his left hand was “useless” and would not work.
His counsel, Oonah McCrann, instructed by Cantillons Solicitors, said the family was told the various problems were psychological and functional. She said the boy was referred to mental health services and physiotherapy. Counsel said the mother has been left “hugely traumatised” over her dealings with CUH as she tried to get answers for her son.
Five months after the teenager’s first visit to the hospital, his mother “effectively then took the law into her own hands” and arranged for a private MRI scan which showed a deep-seated slow-growing tumour in his brain, the court heard. He had brain surgery within days of the scan, but he has been left with lifelong deficits, counsel said.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told the Health Service Executive (HSE) admitted negligence in relation to the delay in the diagnosis of the tumour but contended it did not impact the outcome. He was told that separate actions brought by the young man’s parents over the events had also been settled and could be struck out.
Up until September 2015, the plaintiff was a very active teenager who spent a significant amount of time playing sports. From then, it was noted he was feeling quite fatigued and he was not using his left hand and was starting to hold it behind his back.
It was claimed the teenager woke one morning to find his left hand would not work and his hand was in a fixed fist position and had a deformed appearance.
A general practitioner referred him for a neurological assessment through the emergency department at CUH. It was claimed the boy was reviewed by a number of medical personnel but he was not referred for a scan.
Over the next number of months, the teenager’s condition deteriorated significantly, it was alleged. During this time the boy’s mother allegedly contacted CUH personnel on numerous occasions and in November 2015 she called to the hospital without an appointment and asked that her son’s file be reviewed again.
The GP also contacted CUH, it was claimed, to try to bring the boy’s problems to their attention but it was alleged these concerns were not followed up on.
Further deterioration allegedly led to further representations from his mother until she received a referral for a scan at a private hospital that confirmed in March 2016 the presence of a brain tumour.
Mr Justice Coffey approved the €6.1 million settlement, which he described as fair and reasonable.