A CLONAKILTY woman who claimed there was a delay in the diagnosis of her hearing loss when she was a child, last week settled against the HSE in her High Court action, for €850,000.
Gemma Healy (24) had been tested as a child by the HSE audiological services in Cork city and was told she had ‘normal hearing’.
But her barrister, Conor Kearney BL, (instructed by Mark Tiernan solicitor) told the High Court that the diagnosis was incorrect because when Gemma was brought to a private audiologist, at the age of four, they found a significant hearing loss in her right ear and some in her left ear.
He alleged the delay led to significant problems with speech.
Gemma is a bright girl who does her best to get on with things, he said. Gemma of Ballyvackey, Clonakilty, had, through her mother Catherine Healy, sued the HSE.
Gemma’s parents said they were considerably concerned regarding their daughter’s hearing as her mother felt she could not hear a phone held to her right ear.
After HSE testing, follow-up private testing was arranged and the private audiologist in March 2002 identified a raised level of hearing in Gemma’s right ear.
Follow-up private testing again in September and October of 2002, it was claimed, was suggestive of moderate or severe hearing loss in the right ear.
Gemma was then reviewed at the HSE facility at North Main Street in the city (February 2003) where mild hearing loss in her right ear was detected. The child was retested by the private audiologist in October 2003 who again found ‘moderate to severe’ loss in the same ear.
Gemma was referred back to North Main Street for a hearing aid, but subsequent testing again confirmed Gemma had moderate to severe loss of hearing in her right ear, with only mild loss in her left ear.
A number of hearing aid devices had been given to Gemma since 2003 but it was alleged they had been detrimental to the girl’s ability to hear well.
It was alleged she had been deprived of early intervention regarding the her hearing loss.
While a full defence was filed by the HSE, her barrister said last week that a settlement had been agreed after a mediation process.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey wished Gemma and her parents all the best.