A 13-year-old boy who the High Court heard was in “a fairly violent” road collision in Co Cork five years ago has settled his court action for €4 million.
Among Darragh O’Regan’s claims against the HSE was an allegation that his pre-existing brain cyst was perforated in the accident. A portion of his case was against the HSE, and it was claimed this perforation was allegedly missed when he went to Cork University Hospital emergency department six days after the crash.
The teenager, who lives in the Cayman Islands had been on holiday in Co Cork, where his grandparents live, when a hire car driven by his father collided with another car, with an attached caravan, parked on the hard shoulder at Ballyhea, Charleville on August 7th, 2017.
Darragh’s counsel, Liam Reidy SC with Tadhg Dorgan BL, instructed by solicitor John McCarthy, told the court the then eight-year-old was brought to University Hospital Limerick but did not appear to have any injuries.
Six days later Darragh was brought to Cork University Hospital with persistent headache and vomiting. Counsel said the suspicion should have been of an intracranial problem.
He said an examination of the back of the boy’s eye was allegedly not done. Counsel said it was their case that the “most basic eye test”, which checked cranial pressure, was allegedly not carried out.
When the boy returned to the Cayman Islands, counsel said, he had to be transferred to a Miami hospital where he had to have three surgeries where tiny holes were drilled in his skull to relieve pressure and drains were inserted.
Darragh, with an address in the Cayman Islands, had through his mother Fiona O’Regan sued his father Daniel, the driver of the hire car, which was owned by Executive Trust Ltd,with offices at Northwood Business Park, Santry, Dublin. He also sued the driver of the other vehicle, Gerald Long, of Eglantine Crescent, Mallow, Co Cork, and the HSE.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told liability had been admitted by the drivers and the car rental company.
Against the HSE it was claimed there was an alleged failure to properly investigate the persistence of the boy’s neurological symptoms in the days after the accident and an alleged failure to carry out the eye examination.
The HSE denied the claims and contended a cyst perforation could have happened anytime in the boy’s future and he would have had to have surgery.
It was claimed the boy remained asymptomatic for six days following the collision until August 13th, 2017 when he started to develop headaches, vomiting and fatigue.
The boy was referred to the emergency department of the Cork hospital after complaining of persistent headache and vomiting. A scan of his brain was reported as normal apart from the congenital brain cyst.
It was claimed an examination of the back of the inside eye was not performed and he was discharged from the Cork hospital and prescribed anti-nausea medication and painkillers
It was further claimed that in the days that followed his discharge, Darragh felt persistently unwell with ongoing headaches and increasing nausea and vomiting.
He was again referred by a GP on August 23rd, 2017, to CUH.
The boy’s case was reviewed, and it was allegedly concluded that the scan showed no evidence of raised intracranial pressure. The need for another scan was not expressed, it was claimed, and a diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome was made.
Advice was given regarding symptom control and the young boy was discharged from hospital.
On August 25th, 2017 the family returned home but the boy’s symptoms continued with worsening pain, vomiting, fatigue and hyperventilation.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Coffey said it was a good one and he wished Darragh and his family well for the future.