The first of several High Court actions over substandard audiology services for children in the west of Ireland has been settled.
The court approved a €450,000 settlement in the case of a 13-year-old boy who has a lifelong impairment because of inadequate treatment for hearing loss.
Callan Molloy, from Ballinderreen, Kilcolgan, Co Galway, did not have his hearing loss properly treated for the first eight years of his life.
The Health Service Executive has previously apologised to more than 100 families for failings in audiology services after a review of a service provided by one audiologist from 2011 to 2015.
The issue was uncovered by an RTÉ Investigates report in 2018.
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Barrister Doireann O'Mahony told the High Court there was a delay in properly diagnosing Callan's hearing loss from birth until he was five years old.
He did not receive a referral for a cochlear implant until he was eight, leaving him with a lifelong impairment to his speech and language comprehension.
In court today, an apology was read on behalf of the HSE's Community Healthcare West, which said it wished to "unreservedly apologise for the standard of audiology care delivered you, which was not to the standard our services would believe was appropriate".
Mr Justice Kevin Cross said there was no scientific way of assessing damages contrary to what some people think.
Damages were what a judge deems to be reasonable after hearing all of the evidence, he said.
Mr Justice Cross noted the apology by the HSE and said the settlement, reached after mediation, was a good one.
Afterwards, Callan's father, Ronan Molloy, said while the apology from the HSE is welcome "we are still at a loss to understand how a senior audiologist could have failed so badly in their duty of care for our son Callan.
"For five years his hearing loss was misdiagnosed, he was inadequately aided nor did he get a timely referrral for a cochlear implant.
"This has resulted in a life-long impairment to his speech and language comprehension. We now hope that the HSE will implement in full their findings from the look back report to ensure that the audiology services in Ireland are properly resourced."
Solicitor Ciaran Tansey said he believed many more than the number identified in the HSE's look back were affected and said there were several more cases in the pipeline.
He said there was "audiological negligence in evidence here on an industrial scale" adding, "this really should not have happened.
"Children up to age five have increased ability to develop language and understanding and interaction. They are their key years during which the HSE really ought to ensure that proper services were provided and in this instance they simply weren't."
Mr Tansey said while 49 families were originally identified in the first HSE look back, he believed there were many more affected.
He said other cases will pass through the courts and may be settled through mediation as today's was.