Young woman settles case against HSE for alleged hearing loss for €150,000

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An 18-year-old who sued for an alleged delay in the diagnosis and management of suspected hearing loss when she was young has settled her claim in the High Court for €150,000.

Meabh Middleton was first referred for a hearing test when she was over six, the High Court has heard.

Her lawyer, Hugh O’Keeffe SC, instructed by barrister Ciaran Tansey, told the court that in 2010 Meabh was referred to the HSE Audiology Clinic in Castlebar and that between 2010 and 2014 her hearing tests were back to normal.

He said a difference between his two ears was recorded in 2013 but was waxed in the left ear.

The lawyer said that in 2017 tests showed mild hearing loss in his left ear. Mr O’Keeffe added that the HSE says hearing was normal in both ears.

He said an expert on Meabh’s side would say there was hearing loss and pointed out that she received a hearing aid in 2018. He said the dispute between the parties was whether there is had hearing loss and the extent of the alleged loss.

The lawyer said it was their case that Maebh would have benefited from a hearing aid sooner.

Alleged failure

Ms Middleton, of Claremorris, Co Mayo, through her mother Maura Middleton, sued the HSE.

There was, it was claimed, an alleged failure to perform proper audiological testing and an alleged failure to perform a proper and thorough audiological evaluation of Meabh on various dates between November 2010 and 2014.

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It was further alleged that there had been an undue and avoidable delay in the diagnosis and management of the girl’s alleged hearing loss and that a situation had been caused in which the adjustment of a hearing aid would have been delayed for an optimal period for language acquisition.

She was, it was claimed, deprived of the opportunity for significantly earlier management of her alleged hearing impairment during this optimal period of language acquisition.

All claims were rejected and the HSE maintained that Meabh’s hearing was normal on both sides.

Judge Paul Coffey said the settlement amount represented the full value of the case. The judge said he had no hesitation in approving it and said it was fair and reasonable.

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