Terminally ill girl (12) settles action over alleged delay to tumour diagnosis

Four Courts at Night

5 May 2022

A 12-year-old girl with a life expectancy of six months who had sued over an alleged delay in the diagnosis of a tumour on her spine has settled her High Court action for €675,000.

Her mother, who provides 24-hour care for her daughter, broke down in the High Court as she told how the young girl is “not going to last”.

The girl, who cannot be identified by order of the court, had first gone to a hospital emergency department two years ago complaining of unexplained neck pain but she was diagnosed as having a cyst. 

Her counsel, Eugene Gleeson SC, told the court time “is now running out” for the 12-year-old. It was their case that her spinal tumour should have been diagnosed two years earlier and the girl was treated for the wrong condition. Their expert, he said, would say the tumour was always high grade with a “dismal prognosis” of between nine months and three years.

Counsel described the cyst diagnosis in July 2020 at Mullingar Regional Hospital as “an astonishing diagnosis”. Last week he told the court she was given a life expectancy of just three to six months.

Mr Gleeson told Mr Justice Paul Coffey it was their contention that had the tumour been diagnosed earlier the girl would have had a better quality of life and she would not have been in so much pain.

The girl’s mother showed a picture of her daughter to the judge.

“This is my little girl before. I want to hug her as long as I can,” she said.

The settlement is against the HSE and Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, Dublin. All the claims were denied.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Coffey said he understood the pain and heartbreak of the girl’s family. He ordered that €200,000 be paid out immediately for the benefit of the young girl.

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