Teenager paralysed after spine surgery secures €1.67m

Emily Casey (18) claimed injury after screw inserted into spine to treat scoliosis in 2009

Emily Casey (18) claimed she suffered injury after a screw was inserted into her spinal cord during an operation at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, to treat scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, on December 8th, 2009. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Emily Casey (18) claimed she suffered injury after a screw was inserted into her spinal cord during an operation at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, to treat scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, on December 8th, 2009. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

A teenage girl left paralysed after undergoing surgery on her spine at a Dublin hospital has secured almost €1.7 million as part settlement of her High Court action.

Emily Casey (18) claimed she suffered injury after a screw was inserted into her spinal cord during an operation at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, to treat scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, on December 8th, 2009.

As a result of her spinal cord being severely damaged, Ms Casey is paralysed from her chest down, confined to a wheelchair and requires care and assistance.

Through her mother Stephanie, Nerano Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin, Ms Casey sued the hospital and a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Dr David Moore, alleged to be responsible for her care while a patient at the hospital, seeking damages for alleged negligence.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross on Wednesday approved a sum of €1.668 million in part-settlement of the action.

Liam Reidy SC, for Ms Casey, said liability was admitted in the case last Friday.

Lump sum accepted

While a number of issues in the claim remain outstanding, Ms Casey and her family had accepted a lump sum of €1.668 million as part-settlement of her action.

An apology to Ms Casey was being put together and would be given when the case returns before the court later this month, counsel added.

Outlining the case, Mr Reidy said his client contracted meningitis when aged four. This resulted in ongoing health problems, but she was after time able to walk with a frame and had a degree of independence.

In 2009 she was diagnosed with scoliosis, and underwent surgery on her spine at Crumlin, he said.

Her injuries were caused when a special screw known as a pedicle screw was wrongly inserted into her spinal cord. The screw was removed following further surgery the following day, he added.

Ms Casey remained in hospital until April 2010, when she was moved to the National Rehabilitation Centre. She had suffered a number of complications after the operation, counsel said.

Certain assurances

Prior to the operation, the family were given certain assurances about the procedure, including that there would be appropriate monitoring of the spinal cord for motor and sensory changes during surgery, he said.

It was also part of their claim they were advised by the hospital that, with motor and sensory monitoring, the risk of paralysis was in the order of one in 4,000, he said.

They would not have given their consent to the operation without those assurances, counsel said.

Stephanie Casey said the family, especially Emily, were relieved an arrangement had been reached between the parties and  liability had been admitted. Until last week, nobody would admit “a mistake had been made”, she said. 

The judge said he had no hesitation in approving the part-settlement, and adjourned outstanding matters to a date later this month. 

He praised the family, saying he knew Emily was “in good hands”.