A teenage boy who sued over treatment he was given for hearing loss has settled his High Court action for €450,000.
It was claimed Callan Molloy’s speech and language development was delayed significantly in his early years and he did not get a cochlear implant until aged eight. His hearing, it was claimed, was under-amplified from 2008 to about 2012.
It was alleged a situation was allowed where he had limited access to the speech spectrum during his optimal development age for language acquisition.
On Wednesday, an apology from the HSE’s Community Healthcare West was read to the boy, now aged 13, and his family.
It “unreservedly” apologised for the standard of audiology care delivered to Callan which was “not to the standard our services would believe was appropriate”.
Doireann O’Mahony BL, instructed by solicitor Ciarán Tansey, for Callan, said he did not get a cochlear implant until aged eight and prior to that had hearing aids. The HSE had apologised two years ago for the failures identified in a review of paediatric audiology services in Mayo and Roscommon, she said.
The HSE had carried out a review of services between April 2011 and February 2015 following concerns raised by the assistant national clinical lead in audiology. The concerns related to one audiologist who no longer worked in the audiology services.
Callan’s case is believed to be the first action before the courts on the matter. At the time it was thought 49 children were affected.
Outside court Callan’s father, Ronan Molloy, said, for five years, his son’s hearing loss “was misdiagnosed”, he was inadequately aided and did not get a timely referral for cochlear implant.
“This has resulted in a lifelong impairment to his speech and language comprehension,” Mr Molloy said.
The family hopes the HSE will implement the findings of its review “to ensure the audiology service in Ireland is properly resourced”.
Callan Molloy, of Ballinderreen, Kilcolgan, Co Galway, had sued the HSE through his father. A few months after Callan was born, it became clear he had a hearing impairment and a bilateral hearing loss was diagnosed after an examination at University College Hospital, Galway.
There was no audiologist available in Galway and the boy was referred to the audiology services of Mayo General Hospital for further management, where he came under the care of an audiologist between March 2008 and August 2012.
He was fitted with hearing aids initially which were later upgraded. His speech was very slow to develop and he used a lot of lip reading and focusing on faces to communicate.
It was claimed he had about 15 audiological appointments, mainly for moulds and checking his hearing aids were working correctly. It was claimed regular audiological testing was not carried out and the boy’s parents did not receive adequate information on his progress throughout this time.
Callan was subsequently referred to Galway University Hospital for further audiological intervention and he was first assessed there in December 2012 and referred for cochlear implant assessment at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. He received the implant in March 2015 and his language and use of sentence improved markedly.
The claims were denied.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was a very good one.