Category Archives: Surgical Negligence Claims in Ireland

You may be eligible to make surgical negligence claims in Ireland if you have suffered a loss, an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition that “at the time and in the circumstances” could have been avoided with a higher standard of care. To find out more about the procedures that need to be followed to make surgical negligence claims in Ireland, discuss the circumstances of your injury with a medical negligence solicitor on our Freephone helpline.

High Court Awards Compensation for Failure to Diagnose Organ Failure

A man, who has been in a coma since 2011, has been awarded an interim settlement of compensation by the High Court of Dublin for failure by medical staff to diagnose his organ failure.

In 2011, an operation was carried out on Robert Bolton’s oesophagus. The procedure was initially determined a success, but the next day the seventy-one year-old had a heart attack because of respiratory failure.

Despite being transferred to intensive care, Robert’s condition continued to deteriorate. Because of his sepsis, Robert suffered from a hypoxic ischaemic brain injury, leaving him in a coma. Since 2011, Robert has only had a few occasions of minimal consciousness.

Robert’s wife, Angela, sought legal counsel concerning the care her husband received during and after his operation, as well as during his stay in the intensive care unit at the hospital. She proceeded to make a claim against the hospital for their failure to diagnose her husband’s organ failure, claiming that they did not adequately diagnose Robert’s sepsis or adhere to the criteria of systemic inflammatory response.

The compensation claim was disputed by the hospital, despite an admittance for partial liability regarding the substandard level of care Robert received at the facility.

Negotiations ensued between the parties, which lead to the determination of an interim settlement of compensation amounting to €550,000. This figure would pay for two years’ worth of the specialist care Robert now requires.

However, as the claim was being made on behalf of someone unable to represent themselves in court, the settlement had to be approved by the High Court. Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings, hearing of how the hospital’s alleged failings lead to the deterioration of Robert’s condition and how it has impacted his family.

Though Angela assured Judge Cross that no amount of money would compensate for what happened to her husband, she added the it would act as a reassurance that he was getting adequate care. The judge approved the settlement before commenting that it was the result of hard bargaining. He finished by wishing Angela and her family the best for the future.

HSE Concedes Liability for Incorrect Treatment of Cancer

The Health Service Executive has admitted it was liable for administering treatment for cancer that was not appropriate for the case, with the case due to be heard in Dublin’s High Court.

Kevin McMahon, then aged fifty-eight from Roxboro, Co. Limerick, attended his General Practitioner’s with a sore throat in July 2010. He was subsequently sent to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick, where doctors examined his throat. They noticed a lesion and proceeded to take a biopsy.

A second biopsy of the lesion was schedules that October, as there were concerns that Mr McMahon had cancer. However, that appointment was cancelled and another one was not rescheduled until January 2011.

It was during that January appointment that Mr McMahon’s cancer was diagnosed. The patient was told that he required immediate fourteen-hour operation to remove his larynx, meaning he now has to communicate through an artificial voice box.

However, after the procedure, Mr McMahon discovered that targeted radiotherapy was an alternative method of treating the cancer. He sought legal counsel before proceeding to make a claim against the Mid-Western Regional Hospital and Health Service Executive for inappropriate treatment of his cancer.

Mr McMahon alleged in the claim that there was no open discussion with him concerning possible treatment, and as such the decision to undergo the operation that removed his larynx was made without adequate informed consent. He also claimed that the delayed second appointment allowed the cancer to develop further and cause preventable damage, which caused him emotional trauma.

Initially, the HSE denied any liability in Mr McMahon’s injuries until a fortnight ago, just before the claim was scheduled to be heard in Dublin’s Hight Court. The hearing proceeded as planned, but Mr Justice Kevin Cross will now be asked to assess the value of the compensation settlement Mr McMahon is to receive.

Group of Patients Initiate Claim for Negligent Hysterectomies

Seven women have made claims for compensation against a gynaecologist who was recently determined negligent in his actions by the Irish Medical Council.

The patients were all treated by Dr Peter van Greene, who used to work at the Aut Even Hospital a private facility in Kilkenny, between 2009 and 2011. Dr van Greene was recently before the Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Committee, which found that he was guilty of two counts of poor professional performance. However, the claims made by the women – each for negligent hysterectomies – were made before this hearing.

Helen Cruise and three other anonymous women were amongst those who made claims against the doctor. When Helen’s hysterectomy was carried out, it was done without her informed consent. Since the operation, Helen has been suffering from bouts of depression.

Speaking at the Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Committee, Helen alleged that the procedure – including the long-term effects and any risks – were only detailed after she had been administered with a spinal anaesthetic. Six units of blood needed to Helen after the procedure, as she was bleeding excessively.

Evidence was also given at the hearing of how Dr van Greene had applied for bankruptcy in the United Kingdom, as he is currently unemployed. His most recent place of employment was the Whitfield Clinic in Waterford, where he worked as investigations into his conduct was being carried out.

However, despite his declaration of bankruptcy, the women making claims against him should still be able to claim for compensation. Any settlements that will be awarded will be paid for by Dr van Greene’s medical indemnity insurance company.

Family Seek Compensation for Wrongful Death

The family of a mother who died because of organ failure following a routine operation have made a claim for bereavement compensation for death due to medical misadventure. 

Susan McGee, aged fifty-two from Rush in Co. Dublin – attended the Hermitage Medical Clinic on the 13th July 2013 for an operation to treat a hernia. The surgery, initially described as routine, was initially deemed successful and Susan was discharged a few days later. The mother-of-two went home to the care of her daughter. 

However, just a day after her discharge, Susan was experiencing pains in her abdomen and was feeling unwell. Her daughter brought her back to the Hermitage, and Susan was admitted for observation. A CAT scan conducted on the 22nd July revealed that Susan had a small mass in her bowel. 

An emergency surgery was carried out to remove the mass, but Susan’s condition continued to deteriorate. The next day, she was transferred to an intensive care unit in Beaumont Hospital, but died a day later from multiple organ failure and sepsis. The sepsis was a result of a Clostridium difficile infection. 

In June 2015, an inquest was carried out into Susan’s death. The Dublin City Coroner’s Court heard evidence of many errors made in Susan’s treatment and care, including a failure by medical staff to act on brown faecal fluid that was emerging from Susan’s nasogastric tube. Susan’s vital signs were also not recorded between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm just three days before she died. 

Additional evidence as given that, on the 20th and 21st July, there was only one resident medical officer on duty. The medical officer, Dr Lachman Pahwani, testified that he had tried to devote as much time as possible to Susan, as he knew of her weak condition, but that he had eighty-one patients under his care at the time. 

Susan’s family have since sought legal counsel, and are making a claim for her wrongful death due to medical misadventure, as this was the verdict delivered by the inquest. 

Judge Denies Lump Sum Payment Request

A judge has requested a mother’s request for a lump sum payment for her son’s birth injuries, claiming that it would be a disaster if the money were to one day run out.

In February 1995, Connor Corroon (19) was born in the Cork City General Hospital. Due to a mismanagement of his birth, he had been starved of oxygen in the womb. As a result, he now suffers from cerebral palsy, and is permanently disabled. He is entirely wheelchair dependant, and does not have the ability to speak.

On behalf of her son, Judith Corroon made a claim for birth injuries compensation against the hospital. In 2010, Connor became the first plaintiff to be awarded an interim settlement of compensation for catastrophic injuries pending the introduction of structured payment legislation.

Last year, Connor received his second interim settlement of his birth injuries claim. Seeing as legislation for structured payments has yet to be introduced, he was due to receive his third payment later this year. However, his mother requested that it be a full, final lump sum. Her son must endure a series of assessments every time he has to appear in court to receive his payments, and she claims receiving a lump sum would save him this distress.

She explained her case at the High Court, stating that she desired her son to be able to live a normal life. With the interim payments, it was constantly being interrupted by assessments by different experts. She described her son’s existence as being in a “fishbowl”, and said that in spite of his disability, she hoped that Connor would one day be able to attend university.

Despite her plea, Judge Barton denied her request, stating that if the money from a lump sum payment were to one day run out, it would disastrous for Connor. He approved another interim payment of €1.45 million. To this date, the total paid to Connor for his injuries is €3.25 million.

Justifying his decision, Judge Barton said that he had recently received a consultation paper relating to the proposed Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill. The Bill aims to introduce a system of regular payments next year to better serve plaintiffs with catastrophic injuries. The judge said that a periodic payment system would be in Connor´s best interests, and he adjourned the hearing for a further five years.

New Scheme Launched for Symphysiotomy Claims

A new government-run scheme to help women claim symphysiotomy compensation for operations performed on them without adequate consent between 1940 and 1980 has been launched.

The scheme follows after the government changed its mind on extending the Statute of Limitations such that women who had unknowingly undergone the procedure during labour could claim compensation. There are an estimated three hundred and fifty women alive today who survived the procedure.

The symphysiotomy compensation scheme works on a three-tier basis, based upon how badly injured the victims were. Those who did not sustain any long-term damage are entitled to claim €50,000. Women who sustained a recorded disability because of the procedure can claim €100,000 while those who had previously had a Caesarean Section, and then had a symphysiotomy performed upon them can receive €150,000.

A former judge in the High Court, Maureen Harding-Clark, has been appointed by the government to oversee each claim, which must be submitted by the 5th December of this year. However, this deadline can be extended by a further twenty days should Judge Harding-Clark deem the case exceptional.

Once the claim has been processed and a compensation value determined, the claimants have up to twenty days to accept the offer. However, to do this, any action against the state must first be withdrawn by the claimant.

There are presently over one-hundred-and-fifty High Court actions for symphysiotomy claims on progress, and dates for two of the hearings have been confirmed. Marie O’Connor, head of Survivors of Symphysiotomy, has expressed her dissatisfaction with the new scheme as the time limit makes it “impossible for women to seek independent advice and to make a considered decision”.

The Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Mark Kelly, has also expressed his disapproval of the scheme, claiming that it contradicts the state’s obligations to human rights by not addressing compensation needs for each individual. Additionally, the compensation is being paid out without any admission by the state of their liability.

Widower Compensated for Delayed Operation on Spouse

The compensation claim made by a widower after a delay in operating lead to the death of his wife has been resolved by the High Court.

The claim was made by Patrick Malone, from County Carlow, after his wife Helen (aged sixty) died at St. Luke’s General Hospital on the 12th January 2006.

Helen had a bowel condition, and as such was sent to the hospital for treatment of the condition. However, the procedure was postponed several times, meaning Helen “languished in pain”. When the surgery eventually was performed, Helen tragically died just four days later.

An inquest into the circumstances of Helen’s death followed, and it determined that she died because of systemic sepsis and multiple organ failure, caused in turn by a perforated bowel. The inquest revealed that, had the surgery been conducted sooner, Helen probably would have lived.

Patrick sought legal counsel and subsequently made a claim for compensation for his wife’s death against the Health Service Executives (HSE). However, though the George Nessim, Helen’s consultant, was determined to be guilty by the Irish Medical Council, the HSE did not accept liability for Helen’s death.

The case was then to be heard in court, but just before the first scheduled hearing, the HSE conceded liability for Helen’s death because of the delay in operating, and negotiations ensued between the parties. Patrick was offered a compensation settlement of €165,000 for the anguish he and his six children suffered because of Helen’s death.

However, the settlement still needed to be approved by a judge, and after five postponements in the date of the hearing, the case was heard by Mr Justice Ryan. An apology was read to Helen’s family by a representative of St Luke’s Hospital, and the hospital acknowledges that Helen had received a substandard level of care, leading to her untimely death.

Judge Ryan approved the compensation settlement before commending the parties for settling “a difficult, painful and tragic case”.

Case of Hospital Negligence Settled in Court

The case of a woman who died due to hospital negligence has been settled in court, with €165,000 being awarded to her family. 

In January 2006, Helen Malone died in St Luke’s General Hospital due to a delay in having an operation. Helen had been referred to the hospital due to a bowel condition that she suffered which required surgery, but the hospital staff delayed in giving her the vital treatment on several occasions. Helen died four days after the surgery was finally delivered.

An investigation was launched into her death, and it was revealed that she died as a result of systemic sepsis and multiple organ failure. The cause of these ailments was a perforated bowel, and the report stated that had Helen undergone surgery sooner, it was highly likely that she would have survived.

Patrick Malone-Helen’s widower-of Carlow City sought legal counsel and brought his compensation claim for a delayed operation to the HSE. The Irish Medical Council found that the consultant doctor in charge of his wife’s case-George Nessim-guilty on four charges of professional misconduct. Despite this evidence, the HSE refused to accept liability for Helen’s death.

The case was scheduled to be heard in court, but just prior to the hearing, the HSE admitted liability for Helen’s death due to a delayed operation. A settlement of €165,000 was negotiated between the parties for mental anguish suffered by Patrick and his six children as a result of Helen’s premature death.

The settlement needed to be approved by a judge in court before the case could be closed. The hearing was postponed five times before it was finally heard by Mr Justice Ryan. The details of the case were read to him-including how Helen “languished in pain” before the operation-and an apology was read to the family by a representative of St Luke’s Hospital. They acknowledged that the standard of care that Helen had received was sub-parr, and that they were responsible for the series of events which caused her death.

The judge approved the compensation settlement, noting that it did not include aggravated damages. He commented both parties for concluding a “difficult, painful and tragic case”.

Woman Receives Compensation for Post-Birth Trauma

A woman who received negligent care after giving birth by emergency C-section has been awarded compensation for her post-birth trauma. 

In January 2008, Honey Larkin of Letterkenny, County Donegal, brought a case against the Health Service Executive and her consultant gynaecologist Eddie Aboud for negligence surrounding the birth of her child. Honey gave birth by emergency Caesarian section at the Letterkenny General Hospital. Honey claims that after the operation was complete, she started to haemorrhage internally and that the medical staff overlooked these signs of post-surgical bleeding.

Honey lost more than half of her total volume of blood by the time she was returned to the operating theatre to attempt to stop the bleeding, which Honey describes as a “near-death” experience. Honey claims that she now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the incident.

Honey further claims that neither her gynaecologist nor the other medical staff at the hospital checked on her, or recognised that she was bleeding after the initial surgery. When her distress was eventually responded to, there was a failure to attach due significance or act appropriately within a reasonable time.

Both of the defendants denied the claim, stating that Honey had been treated in an appropriate manner as soon as her post-surgical bleeding was recognised by medical staff. However, Honey continued with her claim for compensation, and the case was brought to the High Court before Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

The judge was told that no bleeding had been apparent when Mr Aboud had finished the Caesarean Section operation. Mr Aboud said that when he was called back to attend to Honey´s post-surgical bleeding, he performed the operation successfully to stop the haemorrhage. Judge Cross said that no blame could be attributed to Mr Aboud and that charges against the consultant gynaecologist were dropped.

The judge did stated that the length of time that it had taken for medical staff to identify the bleeding and respond to Honey’s distress was inadequate, and he awarded her €25,000 in compensation as a result of the hospital “needlessly” delaying Honey’s revision for surgery by more than an hour.