Delay in Diagnosis

The plaintiff, then a child of 18 months, was taken by her mother for hearing tests to the HSE audiological services and was told her hearing in both ears was normal.

The plaintiff did suffer from hearing loss and when she was 24 years old sued the HSE for damages based on the errors and delay in the diagnosis of her hearing loss.

Later the plaintiff was brought to a private audiologist who, on examining he, found that there was significant hearing loss in her right ear and some loss in her left ear.

It was submitted to the High Court that the delay in the initial assessment and subsequent problems in her treatment led to significant speech problems incurred by the plaintiff. Her claim was that the HSE failed to properly diagnose her hearing condition at an early stage which caused severe impairment to her hearing in later years.

In 2002 the plaintiff had follow-up private audiological services tests which found there was a moderate to severe loss of hearing in her right ear. Then in 2003 the HSE retested her and found mild hearing loss in the right ear.

After a hearing aid was applied and further testing carried out, it was confirmed that the plaintiff had severe loss of hearing in her right ear and mild loss in her left ear.

The plaintiff has had several hearing aids, but it has not entirely resolved the problem and left her with an inability to hear well.

It was submitted to the court that the plaintiff had suffered due to a failure of early diagnosis and the lack of any appropriate treatment.

The HSE had filed a full defence claiming also that her case was statute barred but the court rejected those arguments. The HSE offered a settlement after mediation and the High Court approved a settlement figure of €850,000. The judge said it was a complex case of causation but was satisfied with the settlement.

Healy v Health Services Executive High Court April 2022


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