A man, who as a teenager, ended up blind and unable to walk after he went to Cork University Hospital with a brain shunt problem has settled a High Court action for €25 million.
Conor McCormack’s counsel told the High Court that in the hospital, nothing was done for three weeks, and he suffered a devastating brain injury which left him blind as a result.
Liam Reidy SC, instructed by Ernest Cantillon solicitor, said Conor’s mother was “dancing up and down” looking for help.
Conor’s mother Sandra McCormack told Mr Justice Paul Coffey how her pleas for help in the hospital went unanswered when her son was brought to Cork University Hospital after collapsing at his Douglas, Co Cork home in October 2014.
“Our lives were shattered after the events of 2014. Conor was in so much pain and it was so devastating to watch him lose his sight, hearing and mobility We were all so distraught that our cries for help went unanswered,” she said.
The award, she told the judge is bittersweet, but it will allow the family to give Conor the life he deserves.
“He has experienced so much pain and loss in his young life, but he just accepts it. He is absolutely amazing. We are in awe of him,” she said.
She told the court her son is a most wonderful young man who has a wide range of interests and who is loved and adored by his family.
Conor’s counsel Liam Reidy SC told the court that the problem with Conor’s brain shunt remained undiagnosed and a diagnosis of tummy problems was made.
The McCormacks, he said, had been told of the warning signs and symptoms in relation to shunt blockage when their son had to have a shunt inserted in his skull when he was one year old.
Mr Reidy said Conor’s treatment in the hospital was “nothing short of appalling.” Counsel said Conor remained without consultant cover for three weeks despite all the pleas of his mother.
“It was a nightmare for her,” Counsel added.
He said that in November of this year the HSE had, in a limited admission, accepted the management of Conor when he was admitted to the hospital in 2014 fell below the acceptable standards of care.
Conor McCormack (23) Frankfield, Douglas, Cork had through his mother Sandra McCormack sued the HSE over the care and treatment he received at Cork University Hospital in 2014.
Conor was born healthy in April 1998 but when he was one year old, he required a brain shunt for fluid on the brain.
On October 7th, 2014, Conor had a seizure at home and was admitted to Cork University Hospital. A brain CT scan showed the shunt tubing had disconnected and did not extend through the skull.
It was claimed there was an alleged failure to act promptly to warning signs and symptoms of intracranial pressure and the alleged failure to carry out surgery to correct the shunt caused over and above brain damage in the form of cortical blindness consistent with an acquired brain injury.
It was further alleged that the standard of care Conor received from the HSE in Cork University Hospital at that time in 2014 fell below the acceptable standard, and he sustained irreversible over and above damage.
There was, it was contended, an alleged failure for three weeks to appreciate that a constellation of symptoms including rising blood pressure, increasing headache, drowsiness and seizure like episodes were consistent with raised intracranial pressure due to shunt failure.
It is claimed a decision was taken not to have surgical intervention but on October 28th, 2014, the teenager had reduced vision and right sided weakness.
The clinical impression, it was claimed, was that Conor’s symptoms were related to shunt malformation, and he had a new shunt inserted. Conor’s vision did not fully return following the surgery.
It was claimed that there was an alleged failure to consider shunt failure and an alleged failure to act promptly and that various warning signs and symptoms such as drowsiness, raised blood pressure, spasticity in the legs and loss of mobility all of which pointed to raised intracranial pressure were allegedly ignored.
It was further claimed there was a failure to have a consultant neurologist or neurosurgeon engage in face to face discussion with Conor’s parents and have regard to their concerns.
There was, it was also claimed, a delay in inserting a shunt and Conor was allegedly left unattended through a weekend from October 24th, 2018 to October 28th, 2018, despite the deterioration in his symptoms.
It was also claimed there was an alleged failure to surgically explore the shunt between October 9th and October 24th, 2014 prior to Conor’s deterioration which it was contended would have resulted in a better outcome for the teenager.
Furthermore, there was an alleged a failure to act urgently or at all on Conor’s new neurological, symptoms from October 24th, 2014 and the new symptoms included dilated pupils and increased blood pressure which it was claimed should have alerted clinicians to raised intra cranial pressure.
Approving the settlement Mr Justice Paul Coffey conveyed his best wishes to Conor “and his remarkable parents.”