Portlaoise hospital apologises for child's death

Updated: Wednesday, 08 May 2013 22:10

The Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise has apologised to the parents of an eight-year-old boy who died 18 hours after he was discharged from its emergency department.

Richard De Souza from Athy in Co Kildare had been suffering from chicken pox and developed a secondary infection.

He died from a streptococcal infection and toxic shock having been discharged from the hospital's emergency department on antibiotics in February 2011.

The High Court was told he should have been admitted to hospital and treated with intravenous antibiotics.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine today approved a settlement for €160,000 in an action taken by the family against the HSE for wrongful death and nervous shock.

The judge said the amount for wrongful death - €25,400 - was "very small", but she said that was the amount set by the Government for a loss of life.

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The court was told the boy was taken to hospital in Portlaoise on 6 February 2011 having had chicken pox for a number of days.

He had swelling under his arm and cellulitis and was prescribed antibiotics and discharged.

His parents had difficulty finding a pharmacy that Sunday and had to drive to Newbridge to find one.

The boy's condition worsened overnight and he died the following day, 18 hours after he had been discharged.

Senior Counsel John O'Mahony said the boy had a high temperature and high pulse and heart rate while in the emergency department he should have been admitted to the hospital.

If he had been given intravenous antibiotics it would have saved his life, he said.

The streptococcal infection led to toxic shock syndrome and toxins overwhelmed him, the court heard.

His mother Flavia was pregnant at the time. Her husband Ramon, who works as a jockey, was hospitalised after his son's death and she had to attend the funeral on her own.

They were described in court as being "completely lost" after his death, both suffering post-traumatic stress and requiring ongoing counselling.

An apology was read to the court from the hospital in which it expressed "sincere sympathy and regret to the De Souza family in respect of the tragic death of Richard as a result of a streptococcal infection following his attendance and discharge at the emergency department on the evening prior to his death".

Afterwards, the couple's solicitor Ann Nowlan said they still had many questions surrounding the treatment of their son.

They believed his death could have been prevented.

It had a devastating effect on the family and the Brazilian community in Ireland, she said.

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