The Irish Times The Irish Times, Thursday, May 9th 2013 


The Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise has apologised at the High Court to the parents of an eight-year-old boy who died some 18 hours after being discharged from the hospital’s emergency department with a prescription for antibiotics.


Richard de Souza had chickenpox when he went to the hospital and his counsel said he did after toxins overwhelmed his body as a streptococcal infection took hold. Had the child been admitted for treatment and given antibiotics intravenously, his parents’ medical experts contended, it was highly probable those would have dealt with the infection and saved his life.


An apology from the hospital was read yesterday as part of the settlement of action by Richard’s parents, Flavia Helena de Souza and Ralmon Rodriquez de Souza, Hollands Avenue, Athy, Co. Kildare, against the HSE over his death on February 7th, 2011. The parents will also receive €160,000.


In the apology hospital management and staff expressed “sincere sympathy and regret to the de Souza family in respect of the tragic death of Richard as a result of streptococcal infection following his attendance, treatment and discharge from the emergency department on the evening prior to his death”.


Very sad case


Earlier, Dr. John O’ Mahony SC, for the parents, said it was a very sad case and Richard’s parents, natives of Brazil, were “completely lost” without him. His father became “almost hysterical” when he heard of Richard’s death over the phone while at work and was so ill over the next four days he could not attend the funeral and Mrs de Souza, then eight months pregnant, had to attend alone.


Both parents suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and were overcome by witnessing his deteriorating health and death in circumstances which should not have happened, it was claimed. The couple who sued alleging wrongful death and nervous shock, brought their son to the hospital’s emergency department at about 4.27 pm on Sunday, February 6th, 2011, and were seen by a triage nurse. They claimed they told staff about chicken pox spots and their primary concern was a large swelling on Richard’s left side.


It was claimed, on arrival at the department, Richard was complaining of a swelling under his left arm which was hot to touch and he was “cursorily” examined by a doctor who diagnosed infection from chicken pox and prescribed medication for three days.


That night, Richard displayed signs of great thirst while in bed and kept requesting drinks. He was later found to be delirious and his father, a jockey, when going for a ride out at 5.30 am, gave him more of his antibiotics.


Lost consciousness


At 10.30 am Richard told his mother he wanted to vomit and lost consciousness. An ambulance was called and its crew found he was in cardiac arrest. He was rushed to the Midland Regional Hospital where he was declared dead.


Approving the settlement yesterday, Ms. Justice Mary Irvine noted the apology and offered her sincere sympathies on the “very tragic death” of Richard.

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