Girl (9) settles case for delayed diagnosis of hearing loss for €300,000

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A 9-year-old girl whose hearing loss went undetected in more than three years has settled her lawsuit for €300,000.

Shirley Collins, the High Court heard, had her first hearing test aged just over a year, but mild to moderate hearing loss was only diagnosed when she underwent a another test at the age of four.

It has been claimed that there were a number of alleged failures in the early audiological care of the child.

Her solicitor Hugh O Keeffe SC with Doireann O’Mahony BL said it was their case due to the delay in diagnosis it could have impacted the girl’s speech and language.

He said the girl was one of a number of children identified in a retrospective review of HSE audiology services between 2011 and 2015. The HSE later apologized for the failures identified during the review pediatric audiology departments in Mayo and Roscommon and found out of 995 cases examined, 49 children had been affected. Thirteen children were retested and identified as having hearing loss.

Shirley Collins from Ballina, Co Mayo had through her mother Michelle Collins sued the HSE.

When she was nine months old, the girl underwent a hearing test as part of a developmental checkup, but she failed and was referred to Mayo University Hospital’s audiology department.

It was claimed that an audiometric evaluation took place on June 19, 2014 when she was over a year in hospital and it was claimed that there were a number of alleged failures in this evaluation .

A purported diagnosis of normal hearing was made and it is claimed that no pure tone testing of any kind was attempted.

She was called back for another test in 2017 when she was 4 years old and diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing loss.

It has been claimed that if Shirley’s hearing loss had been identified during the first hospital test in 2014, she would have put in place a comprehensive audiology management plan that included liaison with speech therapy services. She had carnations in her ears in May 2018 and her mother reported that her hearing had improved.

It has been claimed that her undiagnosed hearing loss delayed the identification and management of her hearing impairment and may have contributed to delayed speech and language.

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The HSE admitted a breach of duty in the case in relation to the delay in diagnosis, but dismissed all other claims.

Approving the settlement, Judge Paul Coffey said it was a fair and reasonable settlement and he wished the girl and her family all the best for the future.

Following the settlement, family attorney Ciaran Tansey said the Collins family were “delighted that today’s outcome allows Shirley to undergo the full range of treatments she needs”.

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