Beaumont Hospital apologises in court for failings in care of young girl who died
Ella Noonan, 11, went into cardiac arrest hours after a successful brain operation after a pulse oximeter on the girl’s toe to check the oxygen levels in the blood had fallen off, it was claimed.
Beaumont Hospital has apologised in the High Court for the failings in care and the devastation caused to the family of a young girl who died there six years ago.
Ella Noonan was only 11 years of age when hours after successful brain surgery to insert a shunt, she went into cardiac arrest and died.
In the High Court on Tuesday, Beaumont Hospital, in a letter read to the court, said it wished "to express sincere regret and sincerely apologise for the failings in care which have resulted in the death of Ella".
The family’s counsel, Jeremy Maher SC instructed by Michael Boylan solicitor, told the court it was their case that a pulse oximeter on the girl’s toe which was to check the oxygen levels in the blood had fallen off, but the audio alarm signal was “disabled apparently for patient comfort over patient safety”.
Mr Maher said it was their contention had the oximeter been in place, the problem with Ella’s oxygen levels would have been detected and cardiac arrest would not have taken place.
Ella, counsel said, is missed every day by her family, who are devastated and continue to be devastated.
Outside court, Ella’s parents John and Claire Noonan from Westport, Co Mayo, said they had taken on their legal battle for their beautiful brave daughter, Ella, who they said “filled the world with joy and laughter during her short time on earth”.
“We are not a family who ever took on legal battles, and never wanted to end up here.
We soon realised that it was the only way we would ever uncover the truth about the mistakes that were made in Ella’s care,” they said.
Standing outside the Four Courts, John Noonan, speaking for his family, said they had come to the end of a process, “that on many occasions, we felt like giving up”.
He added: “We hope this case will highlight the massive deficiencies in the care of Ella and will help save other children’s lives who may end up in a similar situation.”
He said they will continue “to live our lives, with the love, light and presence of Ella, who was, and remains, very much the brightest star guiding us along the way”.
In the letter of apology read to the court, Beaumont Hospital, on behalf of management, staff and the team that cared for Ella, extended sincere condolences on her tragic death at the hospital on January 15, 2018.
It added: “We offer our sincere apologies for the devastation caused to you and your family. We of course accept that neither the terms of this apology nor any financial compensation can negate the continuing heartache that your family must feel every day."
The hospital said it had endeavoured to achieve a clear understanding of the events that occurred in order to prevent such a tragedy occurring in the future.
“On behalf of the staff of the hospital, I wish to express sincere regret and sincerely apologise for the failings in care which have resulted in the death of Ella and in particular those failings in care which resulted in the various recommendations made by the Dublin City Coroner at the inquest into Ella’s death."
Beaumont Hospital, it said, had commissioned external reports to assist with reviewing the circumstances surrounding Ella’s care and tragic death.
It said on foot of recommendations in those reports and from the recommendations made by the coroner, Beaumont Hospital said it introduced post-operative monitoring of patients undergoing similar surgery to Ella in the Intensive Care Unit.
“From the learning that has arisen, every effort has been made to ensure that a similar tragic event does not occur in the future,” it concluded.
In the proceedings, it was claimed an audio alarm on the little girl’s pulse oximeter machine which records the level of oxygen in the blood was allegedly muted to turned down in the post-operative period on January 15, 2018.
It was contended if it had been audible, it would have alerted hospital staff to the disconnection of the alarm and Ella’s falling oxygen saturation level, prior to her cardiac arrest.
Ella, it was claimed, was denied the chance to have earlier intervention with cardio-respiratory support which if it had occurred, it was claimed, would have prevented her death.
The family settled an action over Ella’s death and also an action by Ella’s parents for nervous shock.
Noting the settlements, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was a heartbreaking case and he offered his deepest sympathy to the Noonan family.