Meningitis Lawsuit leads to £142k award

The mother of a two year old girl, who died after contracting meningitis, has been awarded more than £142,000 in a meningitis lawsuit after the hospital in which the little girl died admitted errors in the way they handled her condition.

Natalie Courtney (28) had taken her daughter hospital on February 19 2006, after Aisling had started suffering from hallucinations and a sore neck. The doctor who treated Aisling diagnosed her as having a 24-hour viral gastric bug and being dehydrated.

Natalie asked for Aisling to be kept in overnight for observation and stayed with her daughter throughout.

After her first examination, a rash developed on Aisling’s back and, early in the morning of February 19, Aisling was placed on a drip. She then developed purple spots on her skin, and Natalie was told that Aisling was being treated for meningitis.

Aisling’s condition got worse and she was moved into the hospital’s intensive care unit. But, at 10.25am, Aisling passed away following a heart attack. The shock overwhelmed for Natalie who, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neil heard at the High Court, became socially withdrawn and developed feelings of guilt due to her own failure to intervene in Aisling’s treatment and demand more appropriate action. After seeking legal advice, Natalie sued the hospital for nervous shock caused by Aisling’s death, claiming that she had suffered depressive injuries as a result of the manner in which she had witnessed her child’s death.

The hospital conceded liability late last year – extending and aggravating Natalie’s feelings – and Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neil accounted for this lack of admission when awarding Natalie £142,000 plus an amount to cover the costs associated with legal representation at the inquest into Aisling’s death.