The prescribing and diagnostic practices of a poorly supervised resident in a child mental health service will cost the state tens of millions of dollars in compensation and other payments.
The massive costs of the South Kerry Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) scandal have come into focus after the government approved a non-adversarial compensation scheme.
At least 240 families can claim compensation under the plan without having to go to court. Although it will be less costly than if claims were taken to court, legal sources say the system will likely still cost more than €20 million given the scale of the damage involved.
The extent of the scandal, which largely revolved around the performance of resident David Kromer, was first revealed by the Irish Independent in January.
The Maskey Report subsequently confirmed that the doctor’s treatment of 227 children was “risky,” as was the treatment of 13 children by other doctors.
Evidence of significant harm in 46 service users was also found, including significant weight gain, increased blood pressure and the production of breast milk. Significant shortcomings in the supervision of Dr. Kromer and broader governance flaws identified.
The State Claims Agency (SCA) declined to say how much the program will cost.
However, legal sources said the amount of damages is likely to substantiate most if not all of the claims within the amount of damages normally envisaged by the High Court, which is €75,000 and up.
Letters sent by the HSE to the parents and guardians of the affected children said they can apply for compensation and clinical support under a scheme administered by the SCA.
Families who choose the program receive an initial payment of €5,000 to help with medical expenses before entering what is known as a non-adversarial mediation process, during which an offer of compensation is made. A panel of independent psychiatrists provides opinions for mediation purposes.
Parents were told that these reports were not disputed by the SCA, while liability was not disputed either.
If agreement on the amount of compensation cannot be reached, the claim is independently assessed by a senior counsel as a mediator. Families unhappy with the mediator’s decision can have it reviewed by retired former President of the High Court Peter Kelly.
Families still have the option to pursue claims in court if they choose not to use the mediation process.
Coleman Legal attorney Keith Rolls, who represents more than 140 affected families, called the program “a positive step.”
“On behalf of our customers, we welcome all steps taken by the state to minimize stress and ease our customers’ journeys during these trying times,” he said.
The South Kerry CAMHS scandal only came to light after a consulting psychiatrist, Dr. Ankur Sharma, September 2020 Concerns about Dr. Kromer had expressed. dr Sharma discovered that children were being prescribed inappropriate medications, including antipsychotics, and being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder without undergoing the necessary diagnostic tests.
This led to a retrospective review of 1,300 patient records from July 2016 to April 2021, led by consultant psychiatrist Dr. Sean Maskey.
dr Kromer stood by his prescribing practice when concerns were raised Irish Independent. He is currently not practicing while awaiting the outcome of a Medical Council investigation.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/kerry-child-mental-health-scandal-set-to-cost-state-tens-of-millions-of-euro-41568265.html The Kerry children’s mental health scandal will cost the state tens of millions of euros