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A 24-year-old woman who sued over an alleged delay in diagnosing her hearing loss as a child has resolved her High Court action for €850,000.
Gemma Healy of Clonakilty, Co. Cork, was brought for hearing tests as a toddler to the HSE audiological services in Cork and was assured her hearing was normal in both ears, the High Court heard.
Ms Healy’s counsel Conor Kearney, instructed by Mark Tiernan solicitor, stated in court that the diagnosis appears to have been incorrect and that when Ms Healy was brought to a private audiologist at the age of four, the audiologist discovered a significant hearing loss in her right ear and some loss in her left ear.
Counsel stated that their contention was that the alleged delay in the initial diagnostic and treatment issues resulted in serious speech impairments. He stated that the case involved complicated concerns of causality. Ms Healy, he stated, is a bright young woman who does her best to get on with things.
Gemma Healy of Ballyvackey, Clonakilty, Co Cork, had sued the HSE, which was responsible for audiological services in Co. Cork, through her mother Catherine Healy. Additionally, the HSE owned and operated audiological care centres at St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork, as well as on North Main Street in Cork city, where Gemma was tested.
Timeline of the case
Gemma was referred to St Finbarr’s Hospital for audiological examination and testing when she was one-and-a-half years old. She was examined at the hospital and at the North Main Street facility. The HSE is alleged to have failed to adequately diagnose Gemma’s health, particularly her severe impairment, despite reported testing of her audiological capacity.
Gemma’s parents, it was alleged, were extremely concerned about their daughter’s hearing because her mother believed she couldn’t hear when a phone was held to her right ear. Private follow-up testing was conducted, and in March 2002, the private audiologist discovered a heightened level of hearing in Gemma’s right ear.
Private testing conducted in September and October 2002, it was asserted, revealed evidence of moderate to severe hearing loss in the right ear. Gemma was next examined at the HSE facility in Cork’s North Main Street in February 2003, when just a little hearing loss in the right ear was identified.
In October 2003, the girl underwent another hearing test with a private audiologist, who discovered moderate to severe hearing loss in her right ear.
She was directed back to North Main Street for another hearing aid fitting, but it is claimed that additional testing proved Gemma had moderate to severe hearing loss in her right ear and minor hearing loss in her left ear.
Since around 2003, she was allegedly subjected to therapy with several hearing aid devices, which was purportedly damaging to the girl’s ability to hear well.
It was reported that Gemma was denied early treatment and that the treatment received was supposedly ineffective. It was argued that Gemma had been denied timely and appropriate help for her hearing loss.
Although a complete defence was prepared, Counsel informed the court that a settlement was reached following mediation. Mr Justice Paul Coffey, who approved the settlement, stated that it was a complicated causation case and that he was satisfied with the outcome. He conveyed his best wishes to Gemma and her parents.