Man left blind and unable to walk settles case against hospital for €25m

A man who ended up blind and unable to walk after he went to Cork University Hospital with a brain shunt problem as a teenager has settled a High Court action for €25 million.

Conor McCormack’s counsel told the High Court that nothing was done in the hospital for three weeks and, as a result, the teenager suffered a devastating brain injury that left him blind.

Liam Reidy SC, instructed by Ernest Cantillon solicitors, said Mr McCormack’s mother, Sandra McCormack, was “dancing up and down” looking for help.

Ms McCormack told Mr Justice Paul Coffey how her pleas for help in the hospital went unanswered after her son, who had a brain shunt, was brought to Cork University Hospital after collapsing at his home in Douglas, Co Cork, in October 2014.

“Our lives were shattered after the events of 2014. Conor was in so much pain and it was so devastating to watch him lose his sight, hearing and mobility,” she said.

The award is bittersweet, but it will allow the family to give Mr McCormack, now aged 23, the life he deserves, she told the judge.

“He has experienced so much pain and loss in his young life, but he just accepts it… We are in awe of him,” she said.

Mr Reidy told the court that the problem with the brain shunt remained undiagnosed and a diagnosis of abdominal issues was made. The McCormacks had been told of the warning signs and symptoms in relation to shunt blockage when their son had to have a shunt inserted in his skull when he was one year old, he said.

Mr Reidy said his treatment in the hospital was “nothing short of appalling.”

Counsel said Mr McCormack remained without consultant cover for three weeks despite the pleas of his mother.

He said the HSE had, in November this year, in a limited admission accepted the management of Mr McCormack when he was admitted to the hospital in 2014 fell below the acceptable standards of care.

Mr McCormack, of Frankfield, Douglas, Cork, had through his mother Sandra McCormack sued the HSE over the care and treatment he received at Cork University Hospital.

On October 7th, 2014, Mr McCormack had a seizure at home and was admitted to Cork University Hospital. A CT scan showed the shunt tubing had disconnected and did not extend through the skull.

Among the claims was an alleged failure to act promptly to warning signs and symptoms of intracranial pressure, while an alleged failure to carry out surgery to correct the shunt caused over and above brain damage in the form of cortical blindness consistent with an acquired brain injury.

The standard of care he received from the HSE in Cork University Hospital at that time fell below the acceptable standard and he sustained irreversible over and above damage, it was alleged.

There was also an alleged failure for three weeks to appreciate that a constellation of symptoms including rising blood pressure, increasing headache, drowsiness and seizure-like episodes were consistent with raised intracranial pressure due to shunt failure, it was claimed.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Paul Coffey conveyed his best wishes to Mr McCormack “and his remarkable parents.”