Augustus Cullen Law wins interim damages for an opera singer following doctors failure to diagnose an infection in her brain. The following newspaper articles outline details of the case:

Singer awarded €2.39m after diagnosis blunder

Singer awarded €2.39m after diagnosis blunder

The Irish Independent – Friday, February 18, 2011

"An award-winning part-time opera singer left severely disabled after a hospital and a GP failed to properly diagnose the cause of her headaches has been awarded €2.39m in an interim damages settlement at the High Court.

Elaine Lennon (36) can now only speak in a whisper, is wheelchair-bound and will require 24-hour care for the rest of her life because doctors failed to diagnose an infection in her brain.

She would have been fine if a CT scan of her brain had been carried out in time, the court heard. Ms Lennon was 39 weeks pregnant at the time of her injury, when she almost died, and gave birth to a baby girl, Claudia, who is healthy.

She could not only have gone on to make a lot of money as a singer but also as a psychologist as she was conferred with a master’s degree in psychology just a few months after her injury, Mr Justice John Quirke said when he approved the interim settlement.

Suing through her father, John Lennon, Ms Lennon, formerly of Newhaven Bay, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, brought the action against the HSE and Dr Patrick Mathuna, a GP at Castle Mill Medical Centre, Balbriggan. Liability was admitted by both defendants.

It was alleged Ms Lennon arrived at the A&E department at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth, on February 4, 2007, complaining of headaches. She was diagnosed as suffering from a urinary tract infection and dehydration, it was claimed. As she was pregnant, she was assessed by a midwife and later underwent a caesarean section.

Ms Lennon continued to complain of headaches, neck stiffness and was not responding to antibiotics. Doctors at the hospital twice queried whether she should have a CT scan of her brain but no scan was carried out and she was discharged on February 11 along with her baby, it was claimed.

Headaches

She continued to suffer from headaches and was vomiting. She attended Dr Mathuna’s clinic on February 14 when she was given an injection which worked for around 24 hours. Dr Mathuna called to her on February 17 and told her he believed she could be suffering with post-natal depression and prescribed a sedative.

Later that day, Ms Lennon collapsed at home and was rushed to hospital. The next day she had two seizures. A CT scan was then carried out, which revealed an abscess in her brain had burst into the ventricles.

It was alleged the HSE, as operator of the hospital, was negligent by failing to carry out the CT scan when she first went to hospital and carried it out too late on the second admission.

It was alleged Dr Mathuna was negligent by wrongly diagnosing her symptoms as pregnancy-related and in failing to refer her to the hospital.

Senior counsel Bruce Antoniotti, for the family, said that at the age of 16 Ms Lennon had been accepted by the College of Music and had performed for Opera Ireland and in other international competitions. Today, she speaks in a whisper because her injury caused the loss of her voice.

She worked for An Post before joining the HSE as a psychologist. She was also studying a masters in science. She had set up home in Balbriggan with her partner Marcus Connolly and they planned to start a family. Ms Lennon now lives in a nursing home but her family are desperate to get back together again and it was hoped, with the settlement, she could buy a house equipped with various aids.

Mr Justice Quirke said he had no problem approving the settlement and would make a decision about Ms Lennon’s future care on Tuesday."

Disabled opera singer awarded €2.3m in damages

Disabled opera singer awarded €2.3m in damages

The Irish Times – Friday, February 18, 2011

"AN AWARD-WINNING opera singer who is severely disabled after a hospital and a GP failed to properly diagnose the cause of her headaches has been awarded €2.39 million in an interim damages settlement at the High Court.

Elaine Lennon (36) can now only speak in a whisper, is wheel-chair bound and will require 24-hour care for the rest of her life because doctors failed to diagnose an infection in her brain, the court was told.

She would have been fine if a CT scan of her brain had been carried out in time, it was claimed.

Ms Lennon was 39 weeks pregnant at the time of her injury, when she almost died, but she later gave birth to a baby girl, Claudia, who is healthy and doing fine, the court also heard.

Were it not for her injuries, Ms Lennon could have gone on to make a lot of money as a singer and a psychologist as she was conferred with a master’s degree in psychology just a few months after her injury, Mr Justice John Quirke said when approving the interim settlement.

Suing through her father John Lennon, Ms Lennon, formerly of Newhaven Bay, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, brought the action against the HSE and Dr Patrick Mathuna, a GP at Castle Mill Medical Centre, Balbriggan. Liability was admitted by both defendants.

It was alleged she arrived at the accident and emergency unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth, on February 4th, 2007, complaining of headaches.

She was diagnosed by a medical registrar as suffering from a urinary tract infection and dehydration, it was claimed. As she was pregnant, she was assessed by a midwife and later underwent a Caesarean section. Her baby was born late on February 4th.

She continued to complain of severe headaches, neck stiffness and was not responding to antibiotics, it was claimed. Doctors at the hospital twice queried whether she should have a CT scan of her brain but no scan was carried out and she was discharged on February 11th along with her baby, it was claimed.

She continued to suffer from headaches and was vomiting. She attended Dr Mathuna’s clinic on February 14th when she was given an injection which worked for around 24 hours, it was claimed.

Dr Mathuna called to her on February 17th and told her he believed she could be suffering from post-natal depression and exhaustion and prescribed a sedative, it was also claimed.

Later that day, she collapsed at home and was admitted by ambulance to the A and E unit.

Early the next day, she had two seizures. A CT scan was then carried out which revealed an abscess in her brain had burst into the ventricles."

If you have any further queries, please contact any of the following from our Medical Negligence Group:

21 February 2011

    Gillian and all at Augustus Cullen Law, A million thanks for a great job done. Justice for our son at last!!

    Catherine, Liam & William

    Dear Michael, A great result was achieved because of your efforts and we were truly blessed to have you on our side.

    Kathleen, Medical Negligence Client

    Dear Joice…you are and have been very professional, sympathetic and dignified in all of your dealings with us and I put that down to one simple fact. You listened.

    James, Medical Negligence Client

    Geraldine, Thank you most sincerely for all your hard work and commitment to these children.

    Freda McKittrick, Head of Barnardos Beacon Guardian Ad Litem service

    Neil is an absolute gentleman to deal with – kind, tactful and very efficient. We could not praise him highly enough. He brought us through a horrible time.

    Sean, Medical Negligence Client

    Many thanks again for a job well done. We really appreciate all your hard work and practical advice.

    Corporate client in a commercial litigation matter

    Dear Jamie, You and your team in ACL were so professional, diligent and prompt. I have recommended you and the firm, and will continue to do so

    Lorraine McCarthy

    Gus Cullen and the firm’s approach to addressing the key issues was professional, yet personal, efficient yet attentive.

    BB

    The process is a difficult one and when you deal with people who are so professional and yet genuine/real people, it makes it so much easier... so thanks a million.

    Julie

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