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Hospital apologises over death of girl who had low blood sugar

Aibha Conroy previously diagnosed with hypoglycaemia but not referred to specialist

Solicitor Damien Tansey, with Kathleen, Sorcha and John Conroy, the parents and sister of the late Aibha Conroy (6), leaving the High Court. Photograph: Collins Courts.

University Hospital Galway has apologised to the family of a six-year-old girl who died three days after she was brought to the hospital suffering from low blood sugar.

Aibha Conroy was admitted on December 11th, 2011, with low blood sugar having previously been in the hospital and diagnosed with hypoglycaemia. She was not referred on for specialist care.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told Aibha, from Gowla, Connemara, Galway, had a cardiac arrest in A&E on that day. She was fainthearted and intubated and transferred to Temple Street children’s hospital, but she died on December 14th.

An apology was read to the High Court on Friday as part of the settlement of an action by Aibha’s parents and younger sister against the HSE over her death.

The hospital said it deeply regretted and apologised to Kathleen and John Conroy and their family “ for the failure to refer Aibha to Crumlin children’s hospital for investigations” following her initial admission in August 2011.

“University Hospital Galway together with its clinical and nursing staff wish to extend their sincere and heartfelt sympathy to the Conroy family on the death of their daughter Aibha,” the apology by the hospital general manager, Chris Kane said.

“The hospital acknowledges and greatly regrets the huge trauma and suffering of the Conroy family resulting from the death of Aibha.”

The details of the settlement are confidential.

Declan Buckley SC, for the HSE, told the court a consultant paediatric endocrinologist has since been appointed to the Galway hospital and will take up a position there in June 2018.

Expert analysis

Des O’Neill SC, for the family, said Aibha had presented at the hospital on three occasions in 2011. A diagnosis of hypoglycaemia was made in August, but the child was not referred on for expert analysis and there was no endocrinologist in Galway at the time.

On December 11th, 2011, Aibha was brought to the hospital with low blood sugar and was given dextrose treatment. She had a cardiac arrest and was resuscitated and transferred to Dublin where she died three days later.

Had Aibha been properly investigated in her previous visits to the hospital, her underlying condition would have been identified and appropriate treatment instituted by September 2011, it was claimed.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the family wanted the entire statutory amount of €25,300 to be paid to Aibha’s sister, Sorcha.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross said the family had been “very sensible and noble” in relation to the case and he offered his sympathies on the death of Aibha.

He also noted the apology and the corrective action taken by the hospital in appointing an endocrinologist and said he hoped the family would take some comfort from that.

Distraught

Outside court solicitor Damien Tansey, speaking on behalf of the the Conroy family, said they were delighted the legal battle was over but were absolutely distraught at the loss of Aibha. He said the Conroy’s entire mission was to ensure the same thing did not happen to another family.

“Losing a daughter at 6½ years was an enormous tragedy and the Conroys were concerned primarily the necessary expertise would be hired in to University Hospital Galway so when another kid like Aibha presented with hypoglycaemia the necessary expertise was there,” he said.

Mr Tansey said the HSE had challenged the Conroy family “all the way and you may recall that an inquest was held earlier and it was the longest inquest in the history of the State”.

“For the entire of that inquest the HSE challenged the Conroys and sought to represent matters as no guilt or negligence on their part.”

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