Settlements approved for boys allegedly inappropriately prescribed antipsychotic medication by Kerry CAMHS

High Court told 10-year-old diagnosed as having ADHD on foot of a brief observation in a waiting room

Two boys alleged they were inappropriately prescribed anti-psychotic medication by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Co Kerry. Photograph: PA

High Court settlements have been reached for two boys who alleged they were inappropriately prescribed antipsychotic medication when treated by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Co Kerry.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey approved the settlements against the Health Service Executive (HSE) which included an award of €60,000 to a 10-year-old boy and a €16,000 award to a 17-year-old.

The court was told the cases were settled after mediation.

Robert Fitzpatrick SC, instructed by Coleman Legal, representing both boys, said the 10-year-old has autism spectrum disorder and a moderate intellectual disability. He was referred to CAMHS when he was six years old and was assessed in July 2020. A low dose of an antipsychotic drug was begun and after a month the dosage was increased, the court heard.


In September 2020, owing to the boy’s distress in the CAMHS waiting area, he was withdrawn from a review, but his father remained, and, counsel said, a diagnosis of ADHD was made on foot of the brief observation in the waiting room.

Another medication, a stimulant used in the treatment of ADHD, was prescribed but later discontinued. Counsel told the court the boy’s mother had contacted CAMHS after three days because her son had difficulty sleeping. At the end of October, the dosage of the antipsychotic was increased until it was discontinued on November 23rd, 2020.

In March 2022, the boy’s mother attended an open disclosure meeting to discuss the deficits in care which included diagnosing ADHD without sufficient information and the inappropriate prescription of medication. An apology was also offered at the meeting. Counsel said the experience of the family with CAMHS was poor.

In the second case, the now 17-year-old boy was referred to CAMHS in January 2020 when he was 13 and presenting with anxiety and depression. He was put on an antidepressant. As a result of an urgent review in September 2020, counsel said, an antipsychotic drug was added to the boy’s prescription and he was on that for about 15 days. Counsel said another antipsychotic was prescribed at the end of October and that was ceased three days later.

Counsel said it was accepted that the boy’s experience of this antipsychotic drug was very short and it was stopped because he was having difficulties which included lethargy and tiredness. He said the boy continued on the antidepressant and there is no criticism of that treatment. The boy has since been diagnosed with autism.

The boy’s mother attended an open disclosure meeting with the HSE in March 2022 to discuss the deficits in her son’s care and an apology was given.

In the proceedings, she claimed that while her son was attending CAMHS her concerns about medication side effects were dismissed. Counsel said the mother told a consultant psychiatrist during a review last year that she had lost trust in CAMHS owing to the care given to her son.

Mr Justice Coffey approved both settlements, which he said were each fair and reasonable.