Court Approves Settlement of Compensation for the Misdiagnosis of Meningitis

The High Court has approved a €5.6 settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis in favour of a teenage girl from Ballinalough, County Cork.

On 10th July 2005, the girl´s parents phoned the South Doc out of hours medical service in Cork to express concerns about their daughter´s wellbeing. The girl – who was only three years of age at the time – was suffering from nausea, diarrhoea, drowsiness and a high temperature. She had also developed a rash on her stomach.

Having been told to bring her to the medical centre, the family arrived at 5:00am and were seen by Dr Leon Britz. Dr Britz diagnosed the girl had tonsillitis and told the family to go home. However, the girl´s condition got worse and – at 9:30am – they returned to the medical centre, where the girl was examined by a different doctor. On this occasion the correct diagnosis of meningitis was made.

The girl was taken to Cork University Hospital, where antibiotics were administered, and then transferred to Our Lady´s Children´s Hospital. At the Dublin Hospital she had both legs amputated below the knee, and subsequently underwent 132 surgeries over the next twelve years to attend to health issues that could have been avoided had the correct diagnosis been made and antibiotics administered sooner.

Through her mother, the girl claimed compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis against Dr Britz and South West Doctors on Call Ltd. It was alleged in the claim for compensation that the misdiagnosis of meningitis as tonsillitis constituted medical negligence on behalf of Dr Britz and that South West Doctors on Call Ltd was vicariously liable for the “profound consequences” of the misdiagnosis.

The defendants admitted liability and a settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis amounting to €5.6 million was negotiated. As the claim had been made on behalf of a minor, the negotiated settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the girl´s best interests, and the approval hearing took place recently at the High Court before Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the hearing, Judge Cross was told about the timeline of the family´s visits to the South Doc medical centre in July 2005 and the “profound consequences” that had resulted due to the doctor´s negligence. The judge approved the settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis – praising the girl´s parents for the efforts they had made to care for her and noting that the outcome could have been far worse.

Six-year-old girl receives compensation in creche abuse case

A Circuit Civil Court judge has approved compensation offered by a creche to a six-year-old girl who had suffered psychological abuse at the facility.

In 2012, the girl was enrolled in the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre in Stepaside, County Dublin. As she was old enough, she began to attend her creche´s “Toddler´s Room”. After the transfer, her parents noticed that she started showing signs of anxiety as they prepared her to attend each morning. They claimed that she would cry “No creche! No creche!” as she was being dropped off. When her parents picked her up in the evening, was often withdrawn and lethargic. She also began to experience difficulty sleeping at night.

The girl´s parents were extremely concerned by their daughter’s sudden change in behaviour. They made an appointment to express their concerns with her primary carer at the creche. They discussed the signs of anxiety and disturbed sleep, but were told by the carer that she was receiving an appropriate level of supervision offered by the creche. In spite of the reassurances, they were still concerned about their daughter’s behaviour.

Shortly after visiting the creche, the RTE documentary “A Breach of Trust”, was released. After they witnessed their daughter´s carer being abusive to children in the same facility, the parents removed the child from the creche. They immediately sought legal counsel.

On behalf of their daughter, a creche abuse claim was subsequently made against the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre on the grounds that the girl had suffered emotional injuries due to the abuse. The creche denied liability, but still made an offer of compensation amounting to €15,000 in spite of no admission of liability. As the creche abuse claim had been made on behalf of a child, it first had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was fair and in the child´s best interest.

In July 2015, the case was heard by to Judge James O´Donohue at the Circuit Civil Court. The judge heard the circumstances behind the creche abuse claim, and the affect it had on the young girl. Judge O´Donohue ruled that the proposed settlement of the crèche abuse claim was insufficient for the level of injury it was claimed the girl had suffered. He refused to approve the settlement made by the creche.

Following a period of renegotiation, a further offer of settlement was made to the girl. This time, the approval hearing was heard by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. The circumstances of the girl´s alleged emotional injuries were once again related to the court. Judge Groarke enquired whether the girl had suffered lasting psychological damage and, after assurance that she had not, he approved the larger unknown settlement of the claim.

Class Action Made Against Epilim for Birth Defects

Claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant have been made in France on behalf of up to 4,100 children with foetal valproate syndrome.

Epilim is the trade name of a French anti-epilepsy drug manufactured by Sanofi. The active ingredient sodium valproate to control electrical activity in the brain.  It is now commonly prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, migraines, and chronic pain as well as epilepsy. Originally introduced in France in 1967, Epilim was passed for use in Ireland in 1983.

Just as it was introduced into Ireland, claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant started to emerge in France. It was thought that the sodium valproate entered the bloodstream as valproic acid. This, when transferred to the foetus, caused foetal congenital and development issues.

However, evidence of birth defects due to taking Epilim was considered inconclusive by French authorities. Pregnant women continued to be prescribed the drug as normal. Despite the inconclusive evidence, there was still a large proportion of children born to mothers who had taken the drug born with defects. Further investigations ensued. It was only in 2006 that the manufacturers of the drug – Sanofi – warned users that sodium valproate may have adverse effects and advised the medical profession to advise pregnant mothers of the potential risks.

Research conducted several years later by France´s social affairs inspectorate – IGAS – found the majority of in spite of the warning, doctors and pharmacists were unaware of the risks associated with Epilim to pregnant women. The research prompted the inspectorate to conduct a small scale study in the Rhone-Alpes region last year, where a much higher than expected rate of birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant was conclusively discovered.

This prompted France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) to find more research into the issue. ANSM investigated the health of 8,701 children born between 2007 and 2014 whose mothers were known to have taken Epilim during their pregnancies. The agency identified that nearly half the children were born with some sort of defect, and thus could be classed as suffering from foetal valproate syndrome. Tragically, they discovered hundreds of stillbirths to mothers who were taking the drug.

When the results of study has resulted in the families of those affected by the adverse effects of sodium valproate to formed a class action in order to jointly make claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim. The families claim that Sanofi did not do enough to adequately inform the medical profession of the risks associate with the drug. It also claims the drug manufacturer failed to put adequate warning on its packaging to inform mothers-to-be about the potential risks.

In Ireland, the Disability Federation has called on the government to conduct an audit of children diagnose with foetal valproate syndrome. The organisation claims the scale of the problem in Ireland should be identified in order that adequate support measures are provided for families. If a member of your family has been affected by foetal valproate syndrome, and you would like to know more about claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant, you should speak with a solicitor.

Judge Approves €15 Million Settlement for Birth Negligence Compensation

A judge has approved a settlement of compensation in a birth negligence claim amounting to a total of €15 million.

At Kerry General Hospital in May 2006, a baby boy was born by emergency Caesarean Section. Due to negligence of the staff in charge of his birth, a series of tragic and preventable errors occurred. These included no action was taken on a CTG trace indicating foetal distress, and when a heartbeat that indicated issues in the womb, no consultant obstetrician was informed of the potential dangers. Furthermore, the consultant obstetrician was not made aware of the possibility of foetal hypoxia, and the baby’s birth was avoidably delayed by approximately two hours.

Due to the avoidable delay, the boy endured a lack of oxygen in the womb, resulting in devastating brain damage. He was diagnosed with mixed dyskinetic spastic cerebral palsy. Now ten years of age, he requires 24-hour care by his family. He cannot verbally communicate, and he is confined to a wheelchair. Despite the clear negligence of their staff, the HSE failed to admit liability for nearly a decade. During this time, the boy´s family had to care for him on their own without the support they should have received from the state.

The HSE only admitted liability in 2016 after a nine-year legal battle with the family. They were prompted to admit their fault after being threatened with aggravated damages by the boy’s parents. An interim settlement of €2.7 million compensation for brain damage at birth was rushed through the courts. After further negotiations between the two legal teams, the family returned to court earlier this month for the approval of a final lump sum settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth. The final lump sum was agreed upon as €15 million . As the boy is a minor, the amount had to be approved by a judge to deem it sufficient to the boy’s long-term needs.

Judge Kelly stated that he felt the settlement was “commercial common and legal sense”. He further paid tribute to the boy´s parents for their dedicated care of their son. He further added while no money would compensate the boy and his family, it was the only form of redress the law could provide. He hoped it would give peace of mind that there is a fund to care for the boy´s needs into the future. As the boy is a ward of court, the settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth will be paid into court funds and managed by court authorities.

Interim Settlement of Compensation for Delayed Birth

A five-figure interim settlement of compensation for a young boy whose birth was delayed due to alleged medical negligence was approved in Dublin’s High Court.

The claim for compensation was made on behalf of a six-year-old boy, who was delivered at the Sligo General Hospital in May 2010. However, it is alleged that due to a failure to correctly interpret the results of a CT scan, the boy – who originally from Ballagharderreen, Co. Roscommon – suffered from severe birth injuries.

The CTG trace had been taken at 5:30pm, and the claim alleges that it indicated the boy was suffering from foetal distress syndrome. However, no emergency Caesarean section was arranged and his delivery was delayed by two hours.

The delay meant that the boy suffered from a lack of oxygen in the womb, and now he suffers from cerebral palsy, though was described in court as a bright and sociable child. He and his family have since moved to Canada.

Acting on her son’s behalf, his mother made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Sligo General Hospital and the Health Service Executives (HSE). The HSE quickly admitted liability and initiated negotiations concerning a settlement of compensation. They also apologised to the boy and his family for their failings, explaining why there was a delay in delivery.

The negotiations resulted in a €704,000 interim settlement of compensation, which should provide for the child’s care over the next five years. The case then proceeded to the High Court of Dublin such that the settlement could be assessed by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the hearing, Judge Cross heard the circumstances of the birth and the reasons behind the delayed delivery. Whilst praising the boy’s family for the care they provided him over the past six years, he also commended the HSE’s cooperation and provision of an explanation. Judge Cross proceeded to approve the settlement and adjourned the case for five years.

Court Approves Interim Compensation Settlement for Birth Injuries

An interim compensation settlement worth €1.35 has been approved by Dublin’s High Court on behalf of a disabled child.

In March 2010, the young boy in question was born at Cork University Maternity Hospital. However, his parents allege that staff at the hospital failed to correctly interpret the results of a CTG scan that indicated their child was suffering from foetal distress syndrome.

As the staff did not believe the foetus was in any danger, there was a delay in performing a Caesarean section to deliver the baby. As such, the boy suffered from hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy in the womb and was born with severe brain damage.

The child, now six years old, was left blind and unable to speak. He also suffers from daily seizures and is cared for by his parents and extended family. The family also receive support from the Jack and Jill Foundation.

Acting on her child’s behalf, the boy’s mother made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE denied the allegations of negligence, but offered to pay an interim settlement of compensation without admitting liability. The €1.35  settlement allows for an assessment of the boy’s condition and future care needs.

Before the settlement could be awarded, it had to be approved by a judge in Dublin’s High Court.  Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who oversaw the approval hearing, was told of how hard it was for the boy’s family to get compensation for the delayed Caesarean section, and of their relief that the process was over. Wishing the family the best for the future, Judge Cross approved the settlement and adjourned the case for three years.

 

Court Hearing for Failure to Diagnose Pregnancy Complication

Dublin’s High Court has approved a seven-figure settlement of compensation for a woman whose vasa praevia complications were not diagnosed throughout her pregnancy.

In October 2010 at Cork’s University Maternity Hospital twin boys were delivered by an emergency Caesarean Section to a mother from Midleton, Co Cork. However, whilst one of the infants was declared healthy, the second had suffered foetal distress in utero and as such was weak after delivery. He was then diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy.

Acting on behalf of her young son, the mother made a claim for medical negligence compensation for the failure to diagnose vasa praaevia complications during her pregnancy. Vasa praaevia is a condition in which the blood vessels of the foetus are near the internal uterine opening, putting them at risk of rupturing during labour. The woman, who has remained anonymous, alleges that earlier scans revealed that one of the placentas was low-lying.

However, representatives for the Health Service Executives (HSE) and Cork University Maternity Hospital – against whom the allegations were made – denied that they were liable for the birth injury. They claimed that it was not standard practice to conduct further scans or tests after such a placenta is identified to eliminate the risk of vasa praaevia complications. They did, however, agree to pay an interim sum of compensation without admitting guilt.

The claim was made on behalf of a minor and as a consequence had to be approved by a High Court judge before any settlement could be awarded. The approval hearing was held earlier this week at the high Court of Dublin, where the judge was told about the circumstances of the pregnancy and birth and what could have been done to prevent the boy’s injuries.

The court was also told of how the child, now aged six, has received a National Children of Courage Award. His friends and family had also raised funds for him to fly to the United States for selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery, which allowed him to walk for the first time. However, he still requires therapy for speech and language acquisition.

The interim settlement was approved by the High Court. The case was then adjourned for five years, after which an additional assessment will be conducted.

Court Approves Interim Settlement of Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy Compensation

The High Court has approved a €1.98 million interim settlement of spastic diplegia cerebral palsy compensation in favour of a six-year-old boy.

The six-year-old boy was one of a set of male twins born by emergency Caesarean Section at Cork University Maternity Hospital on 5th October 2010. Although his brother was delivered successfully, he was born in poor health having suffered foetal distress in his mother´s womb. He was later diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy.

On the boy´s behalf, his mother claimed spastic diplegia cerebral palsy compensation – alleging that there had been a failure by the hospital to exercise reasonable care at the antenatal stage of the pregnancy. She alleged that scans in June and September had revealed a low-lying placenta, a foreseeable cause of vasa praevia complications.

The Cork University Maternity Hospital and Health Service Executive (HSE) denied liability for the boy´s birth injuries – arguing it was not normal practice to investigate the risk of vasa praevia complications. However, an interim settlement of spastic diplegia cerebral palsy compensation was agreed without an admission of liability.

As the legal action had been brought on behalf of a child, the interim settlement of spastic diplegia cerebral palsy compensation had to be approved by a court to ensure it was in the boy´s best interests. At the approval hearing, the High Court was told about the circumstances leading up to the boy´s birth and the alleged lack of regard to the operative risk indicators for foetal distress.

The High Court was also told how, in 2014, the boy had won a National Children of Courage Award, and that last year a crowd-funding scheme raised enough money to fly the family to Missouri for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery. As a result of the surgery, the boy is now able to walk short distances, but he still requires physiotherapy, speech, language and occupational therapy.

The interim settlement of spastic diplegia cerebral palsy was approved by the High Court and the case was adjourned for five years for reports to be conducted into the boy´s future needs. In five years´ time, the family will be eligible for a further interim settlement or a lump sum payment of spastic diplegia cerebral palsy compensation if a periodic payment system has not yet been introduced.

High Court Approves Compensation for Newborn Death

The High Court of Dublin has awarded €98,000 to a couple who brought a case against the Health Service Executives alleging that they had mismanaged their daughter’s birth.

The couple, who have remained anonymous, welcomed the birth of their daughter on the 15th July 2010 at the Limerick Regional Maternity Hospital. However, the little girl died just six hours later. The couple, from Ballyneety in Co. Limerick, alleged that their daughter died due to severe failings by medical staff at the hospital.

The couple claimed that their baby had been born healthy, but had suffered a severe loss of blood that led to her untimely death. The Limerick couple alleged that attending the birth did not detect the blood loss in time.

In their legal action, the couple claimed that their little girl was elevated higher than the placenta such that the umbilical cord would untangle. However, they allege that the staff did not adequately clamp the umbilical cord to prevent extreme blood loss.

The HSE denied that it had mismanaged the girl’s birth and presented evidence that their practices had not caused her death. However, though they never admitted liability, the HSE did offer the couple €98,000 in compensation to account for the emotional trauma they endured after the loss of their baby.

The settlement had to be approved by a High Court judge before it could be awarded. Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings at the approval hearing, where he was told that the parties still disputed the cause of the little girl’s death. He was also told how the baby had become listless and collapsed, and subsequently died six hours after her birth.

Representatives of the HSE read a statement of regret during the hearing, after which the judge approved the settlement for compensation. He also offered his own sympathies to the couple for their suffering.

Patient Compensated for Fall from Hospital Trolley

A man, who suffered an injury to his back after he fell from a hospital trolley, has settled his claim for compensation.

Anthony Whelan – aged sixty-four from Tallaght, Dublin – was at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital in September 2015, presenting with post-operative pain. The caretaker was admitted to the hospital overnight, and a second operation was scheduled for the following morning.

Anthony was then placed on a trolley to be taken to his overnight ward. However, there was no bed available and Anthony was placed in a corridor that was located near a nursing station. Screens were constructed around his trolley so that he could rest.

However, whilst he was sleeping, Anthony fell from the trolley, colliding with the base of the screens before falling to the floor. Though an x-ray did not show any signs of damage to his internal organs and back Anthony was administered painkillers and moved to a private ward.

The planned operation was carried out, but Anthony proceeded to seek legal counsel concerning the fall from the hospital trolley. He then made a claim for compensation against the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, claiming that during his stay he did not receive adequate care.

Though the hospital acknowledged Anthony’s fall, they contested the claim for compensation as they disputed the exerted of the damage. The case proceeded to the Circuit Civil Court for an assessment of damages.

At the court, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told that the parties had settled upon a compensation settlement. The judge was also informed that, because of this, jurisdiction lay within the realms of the District Court. Costs were also settled between the parties.

Review of Irish Medical Negligence Claims Announced

 

Simon Harris, the Minister for Health, has announced that the new National Patient Safety Office will review the current procedures by which patients claim for medical negligence compensation.

The soon-to-be established National Patient Safety Office, announced by the Health Minister whilst speaking at a patient safety  conference in Dublin, will report to the Department of Justice and Equality. Mr Harris commented that the organisation will “lead a program of significant patient safety measures”.

The new office will also establish a patient advocacy service for patients across Ireland, the organisation of a new patient advisory council and the use of a patient safety surveillance system. It will also review the procedures for claiming medical negligence compensation.

This review was organised to help progress the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill. This proposes to allow patients and their families to disclose adverse medical events. The HSE had established guidelines for this open disclosure in 2013, though to date they have not been applied to Irish hospitals.

Many patient rights campaigners have been lobbying for such a review for many years, claiming that – without that statutory duty of candour – any new medical negligence claims are impossible. They also criticise Leo Varadkar, former Minister for Health, for failing to enforce open disclosure in 2015’s Civil Liberty (Amendment) Bill.

The Health Information and Patient Safety Bill also proposes to end the unauthorised disclosure of health information, establish the use of new technologies to exchange health data, to extend the Health Information and Quality Authority’s (HIQA) hold over private healthcare providers. However, until the EU revises its data protection regulations, none of these innovations are likely to be enforced.

Court Approves Interim Settlement of Compensation for Child Injuries

The High Court of Dublin has approved a seven-figure settlement of compensation for a child that sustained severe injuries after experiencing medical negligence at the Portiuncula Hospital.

Eoghan Dunne was aged just eleven months old when he was admitted to the Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe in August 2012. The boy, from Co. Offaly, was suffering from severe respiratory distress and an elevated heart rate and within twelve hours his condition had become so severe that he was transferred to Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Dublin.

At the Dublin hospital, Eoghan went into septic shock and suffered from a heart attack. This resulted in a lack of oxygen to his brain and as such he sustained severe brain damage that has rendered him epileptic, with severe visual impairments and an inability to walk or talk. Eoghan was in hospital for six months after the heart attack and will now be reliant on twenty-four hour care for the rest of his life.

An investigation into the nature of Eoghan’s injuries was conducted that showed that he had received substandard care whilst at the Portincula Hospital. The review alleges that the facility was not prepared for cases such as Eoghan’s, and that they failed to give him antibiotics – a direct contradiction of the HSE’s policies regarding sepsis. Additionally, the transfer to Temple Street was unnecessarily protracted because of a lack of “competent staff”.

Ronan and Teresa, Eoghan’s parents, decided to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the HSE and the Portiuncula Hospital, alleging that their son would not have sustained as severe injuries had the hospital acted appropriately. However, the HSE denied that they were liable and a court hearing was scheduled.

Yet, shortly before the hearing was due to commence, the HSE decided to concede liability for the claim and offered an interim settlement of compensation such that an adequate assessment of Eoghan’s needs could be made. Before this could be awarded, it was subject to approval by the High Court of Dublin.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw the approval hearing, and after hearing the circumstances of Eoghan’s case, readily approved the settlement. He added that, had the HSE conceded liability earlier, Eoghan could have afforded treatment at a more critical stage. The interim settlement amounts to €2.4 million, and assessments are currently underway to finalise the next settlement.

Interim Settlement Awarded for Medical Negligence at Maternity Hospital

A seven-figure settlement of compensation has been awarded by the High Court for medical negligence at the Midwestern Regional Maternity Hospital.

The claim for compensation was made on behalf of Charlie Enright, a two year-old boy whose mother was admitted to the Limerick hospital when she was thirty-seven weeks pregnant with him in 2013.

After a medical examination, Charlie’s mother – Catriona – was put into an induced labour, for which the doctors administered Syntocinon. Even though the drug has well documented side effects, the medical staff still failed to adequately monitor Charlie’s condition in utero and as such he suffered from hyper-stimulation.

The next morning, the 20th August, Charlie was delivered “flat”, a term used to describe newborns unable to breathe without assistance. This was due to doctors’ misinterpretation of a cardiotocograpphy trace and delayed diagnosis of foetal distress. Charlie was then transferred to Cork University Hospital and later diagnosed with an intra-cranial haemorrhage. He then underwent therapeutic hypothermia treatment.

Despite the treatment, Charlie sustained permanent brain damage. Acting on behalf of her son, Catriona made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Health Service Executives for the lack of care she received before her son’s delivery. The HSE conducted an investigation and subsequently admitted their liability for Charlie’s injuries.

Negotiations ensued between the parties, though they were complicated by the fact that the future of Charlie’s condition is not yet known. As such, a €1.75 million interim settlement was negotiated such that Charlie could be provided for for the next two years whilst an assessment was undertaken.

The case then proceeded to the High Court of Dublin such that the settlement could be approved. Mr Justice Anthony Barr approved the settlement and adjourned the case for two years.

High Court Hearing for Cancer Misdiagnosis Claim

A medical negligence claim, made by a woman who underwent unnecessary treatment due to a missed diagnosis of breast cancer, has had its first High Court hearing.

The claim was made by Eileen Fennessy, a sixty-nine year-old retired school teacher from Piltown in Co. Kilkenny. On the 25th November 2011, Eileen underwent a routine breast examination as part of “Breast Check”, the National Breast Screening Programme, but the screening allegedly missed critical signs that Eileen was suffering from cancer.

A year after this examination, Eileen visited her GP, who discovered that Eileen had a large mass on her breast. She was then sent to Waterford Regional Hospital, where an ultrasound and biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of a Grade 2 carcinoma.

Eileen was put on a course of chemotherapy as soon as the diagnosis was made, though this did nothing to stop the cancer. In April 2013, Eileen had a mastectomy. After her recovery, Eileen sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for her missed diagnosis.

In her claim, which was made against the Health Service Executive as the overseer of “Breast Check”, Eileen alleged that the treatment she underwent would not have been necessary had she been diagnosed with cancer a year earlier. However, the HSE have denied that they were guilty of medical negligence.

The case proceeded to Dublin’s High Court, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross was informed of the details of the case. Eileen’s legal team argued that the first mammogram, taken in November 2011, should have alerted doctors that Eileen would need further examinations. The failure to conduct these, it was alleged, meant that Eileen was put in unnecessary danger of the cancer progressing.

Though Eileen had been declared cancer-free, Judge Cross was told that her prognosis is “extremely serious and devastating”. The case will continue later this week.

Final Compensation Settlement for Birth Injuries Claim

A teenage girl, who sustained brain damage because of avoidable delays in her birth, has been awarded a final €5.5 6 million compensation settlement by the High Court.

On the 11th October 1999, at the Mayo General Hospital, Mary Malee was delivered by emergency Caesarean section. The surgery was necessary as Mary had been suffering from foetal distress syndrome, yet there was a delay in carrying out the procedure. Despite the diagnosis, no consultant was available to assist the delivery. During this eighty-minute delay, Mary was deprived of oxygen in utero, causing damage to her brain. As a result, Mary now suffers from cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound.

Maura Malee, acting on her daughter’s behalf, made a claim for birth injuries compensation against Mayo General Hospital. In the claim, it is alleged by Maura that her daughter’s injuries were caused by the hospital’s lack of consultants, and their inability to make of available upon the diagnosis of an elevated foetal heart rate. The delay caused by this negligence lead to Mary’s brain damage.

At the beginning of 2014, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved an interim settlement of compensation worth €1.5 million during a hearing at the High Court. She then adjourned the case for two years such that a payment scheme could be established.Yet no scheme was ever introduced and as such the Mary and her parents returned to the High Court last week for the approval of final settlement of €5.56 million.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly oversaw proceedings. A representative of Mayo General Hospital read an official statement which apologised to Mary for the “the many challenges that you have faced as a result of the treatment provided to your mother Maura at the time of your birth”. Judge Kelly then approved the compensation settlement, commending Mary’s heroism in facing the challenges her injuries present.

Mary, speaking to a reporter after the approval of the settlement, commented that “Cerebral palsy won’t kill me but I have to learn to live with it … it’s for life. This shouldn’t have happened to me and others like me. Justice has been done and I’m bringing closure to this, we can move on with our lives”.

Court Award Settlement for Failure to Refer

The High Court has approved the final settlement in a drawn – out compensation claim made after a doctor failed to refer his patient to a specialist despite worrying blood tests.

In October 2004, Catherine Sheehan had a blood test before the birth of her daughter. The test returned a concerning result, showing that Catherine’s blood antibody levels had undergone an “alarming increase”. However, Dr David Corr – her obstetrician – did not refer her to a specialist. One month later, on the 24th November, her daughter Isabelle was born at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in Cork with sever spastic quadriparetic cerebral palsy.

Isabelle is now eleven years old, and attends a Gaelscoil near Mallow, Co. Cork, where she lives. However, though described as “bright and intelligent”, Isabelle still struggles communicating with others. A machine was specially made to help her to walk, though she will be reliant on round-the-clock care for the rest of her life.

Dr Corr admitted liability for Isabelle’s condition after her mother made a claim against him for his failure to refer her to a specialist. Whilst speaking at a hearing to award an interim settlement of compensation in 2011, he told the court that he “very much regrets the outcome in relation to Isabelle´s birth”.

When the second interim settlement of compensation was awarded in October 2013, Catherine requested that they ceased to receive the interim settlements and instead received a lump sum. An assessment had to be carried out for several weeks prior to each settlement, and Catherine told the court that these disputed her daughters life.

The court granted the request, and the case went to the High Court for Mr Justice Peter Kelly to approve the €9 million settlement. Judge Kelly, who is also President of the High Court, said that it was a fair and reasonable settlement, and it was understandable why Catherine made the request. He also paid tribute to Isabelle’s parents, saying that Isabelle’s progress was so good because of her parents’ “truly remarkable” love, care and dedication.

Compensation Awarded After 10 Years for Undiagnosed Brain Injury

The High Court of Dublin has awarded a woman a multi-million settlement of compensation after suffering from an undiagnosed cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage.

In June 2006, Paula Dundon – a forty-two year-old mother of three from Co. Kildare – went to Naas General Hospital complaining of headaches, nausea and vomiting. Before she was admitted to the hospital, she was given painkillers and had a CT scan performed on her brain.

However, the scan did not show what was wrong with Paula. As such, doctors carried out a second scan a few days later which revealed a large intra-cerebral bleed on the left side of Paula’s brain. She was then transferred to Beaumont Hospital.

After the transfer, doctors at Beaumont identified Paula’s injury as an intra-cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage. However, the delay in the diagnosis at Naas Hospital meant that Paula suffered extreme brain damage that has left her reliant on round-the-clock care.

Paula’s husband, Michael, sought legal counsel and on his wife’s behalf made a claim for compensation for an undiagnosed intra-cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage. In it, he claimed that the delay in diagnosing his wife’s injuries would have been avoided though a prompt diagnosis.

The HSE disputed part of the claim for medical negligence, saying that they had adequately assessed Paula’s injury. However, they admitted that the diagnosis was not made within an adequate timeframe.

A €2.7 million settlement of compensation was negotiated between the parties. However, the case needed to be heard in the High Court before the settlement was approved as it was being made on behalf of someone unable to represent themselves. Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard the details of the case before approving the settlement. Judge Cross also congratulated Paula’s husband on the care he had given his wife over the past decade.

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.

Newspaper Claims HSE Open Disclosure Policy is not Being Enacted

An Opinion-Editorial Published by the Irish Examiner has claimed that the open disclosure policy for the Health Service Executive is not going to be applied for a long time.

The open disclosure policy, which dictates when the HSE should tell families when there are issues with the standard of healthcare provided to patients took place in November 2013. However, the aforementioned open editorial claimed that the policy is good on paper, yet is still not being enforced in hospitals across Ireland.

Catherine Shanahan – the journalist who wrote the piece – used the details of seven medical negligence cases that occurred in 2015 and gained some attention by the media. According to Shanahan, they demonstrate how the HSE is not admitting to their wrongdoings and as such, if they want to learn the true story of the events they endured, patients and their loved ones are forced to go to court.

Gil Russell’s case, which was one of the most well-known because of the action with the Sates Claim Agency, was used as a demonstrative case by Shanahan. Born in 2006 with cerebral palsy because of a “prolonged and totally chaotic” delivery which left her deprived of oxygen in utero, the HSE only issued an apology in 2012. At the same time, an interim settlement of compensation was awarded.

The Russell family were back in the High Court in 2014 to be awarded a €13.5 million lump settlement, which was the largest ever awarded by the state for cerebral palsy. The State Claims Agency then made an attempt to appeal the settlement, though the case was later rejected. However, the case was then taken to the Supreme Court – again depriving Gill and her family of the settlement.

Other cases mentioned in the editorial included Skye Worthington and Katie Manton – both suffered similar circumstances to Gill Russell, and both waited for years to receive an apology from the Health Service Executive for their mismanaged births.

The article makes a clear case for the claim that the policy is not being applied in Irish hospitals, and that the money put towards public and doctor education concerning the policy was a waste of government funds.

Couple Compensated for Death of Newborn

A five-figure settlement of compensation has been awarded to a couple whose son died from medical negligence after the case was heard in the High Court, Dublin.

On the 20th November 2012, Fiona Watters was admitted to the Cavan General Hospital expecting her first baby. In the morning of the 22nd, her waters and medical staff administered Prostaglandin to help move the labour along.

As the day progressed, the dose of the drug increased in strength. That evening, an attempt was made at a natural delivery, though after an hour, no progress had been made. The midwives attending Ms Watters rang Dr Salah Aziz, a consultant obstetrician, and told him that the baby was not yet visible and that there were indicators that the baby was suffering foetal distress.

When Mr Aziz arrived at the labour ward in the hospital, he discovered that another Caesarean Section was being carried out in the only out-of-hours theatre. As such, he tried both a forceps and vacuum delivery to no avail. Eventually the operating theatre became available, and Ms Watters had an emergency Caesarean Section. Her baby, names Jamie, was delivered shortly after, yet he was in very poor condition.

The baby was quickly transferred to a special care unit in the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, where he died just two days later in his mother’s arms. An investigation ensued looking into the circumstances of Jamie’s death, yet was stopped by the High Court in 2013 when Dr Aziz pointed out that the investigators appointed by the HSE did not undertake proper procedures.

Ms Watters and her partner, Francis Flynn, had received an advanced copy of the report and sought legal counsel. After this, they proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Cavan General Hospital and the HSE.

The HSE did not accept any liability for Jamie’s death for twelve months after the claim was made, and then ordered another investigation to be carried out. This team was composed of an independent review team, as there were two more deaths of children at the Cavan General Hospital.

In December 2014, it was determined that Jamie’s death was caused by medical misadventure. The increasingly large doses of Prostaglandin, Dr Aziz’s failure to notify the registrar of Jamie’s imminent birth and the fact that there was only one out-of-hours theatre at the hospital were all listed to be contributing factors.

Negotiations commenced with the State Claims Agency in order for the claim of compensation to be settled. Due to the trauma sustained by Jamie’s parents, a package of €70,000 was agreed upon and the approved by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys in the Dublin High Court.

Widow Compensated for Husband’s Misdiagnosed Meningitis

A woman, whose husband died after his meningitis was misdiagnosed for constipation, is to be compensated for his death following a hearing.

When Philip Morrissey, aged thirty-nine from Kilkenny, visited his GP on the 26th May 2010, he was presenting with a high temperature, a headache and a pain in his ear. The doctor presently referred him to the Accident and Emergency Department of Kilkenny’s St Luke’s Hospital, where he was admitted to the hospital with a high pulse and an increasing intolerance to light.

Many hours after Mr Morrissey was taken into care, Mrs Gail Morrissey raised her concerns with the attending staff that her husband was drowsy and disoriented. However, she was informed by the staff that her husband was suffering from constipation. The next morning, Mr Morrissey was found in his bed, having suffered a cardiac arrest during the night. A later investigation discovered that the heart attack was caused by streptococcal pneumonia meningitis.

Mrs Morrissey sought legal counsel, and proceeded to make a claim against the HSE for her husband’s misdiagnosis. In her claim, she stated that no doctor had attended to her husband since the late afternoon before his death, and that the staff that had seen him earlier on did not accurately diagnose his condition, failing to consider that his symptoms were indicative of meningitis.

An investigation into the circumstances of Mr Morrissey’s death ensued, and after the HSE admitted liability, the parties began to negotiate a compensation settlement. A figure of €455,000 was agreed upon by the parties, though due to the nature of Mr Morrissey’s death, the case had to proceed to the High Court before the settlement could be awarded. There, it was overseen by Mr Justice Michael Hanna.

In the court, details of Mr Morrissey’s illness and subsequent death were given, and a statement was read to the Morrissey family by a representative of the HSE. Judge Hanna proceeded to approve the compensation settlement, adding that it was a “huge tragedy” for the family, and while the settlement would never be a compensation for Mr Morrissey’s loss, it was the best that could be achieved by the law.

Court of Appeals Upholds Compensation Settlement for Birth Injuries

Dublin’s High Court have upheld a multi-million settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to birth injuries after an appeal was made concerning its high value, though the case may still proceed to the Supreme Court for resolution. 

Gill Russell, from Aghada in County Cork, was born on the 12th July 2006 in the Erinville Hospital. However, he was born with dyskinetic cerebral palsy after what has been described as a “prolonged and totally chaotic” delivery. Karen, Gill’s mother, made a claim for birth injuries due to medical negligence compensation against the hospital and the Health Service Executive. Liability was admitted by the HSE, and an interim settlement was awarded by the High Court in Dublin. 

It was not until December 2014 that a final award of €13.5 million was approved by the Mr Judge Kevin Cross in the High Court, which was the largest award ever made by the court for a cerebral palsy claim. The settlement was appealed by the HSE, who argued that Judge Cross had used too low a rate of interest to calculate the return investment of the lump sum. 

The case was heard earlier this month at the Court of Appeals, where a panel consisting of three judges, upheld the settlement of compensation. The judges argued that using a higher rate of interest – which the HSE argues is normal for the court – would result in a severely disabled person taking “unjust and unacceptable risks” by investing their lump sum to safeguard their financial security.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine – one of the three judges on the panel – commented that it was not the purpose of the courts to decide how a claimant was going to invest their award when determining its value. The judge also commented that, had the government succeeded in passing legislation that would allow structured, periodic payments, the HSE would not be in this situation. 

However, despite the Appeals Court’s ruling, the case is unlikely to be resolved, The State Claims Agency have warned that the case could set a precedent that could cost the insurance industry up to €10 billion over the next ten years, The HSE have also indicated that they will likely take the case to the Supreme Court. 

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. 

Bereaved Parents Criticise HSE Apology

 

The couple, whose little girl died very soon after her birth, have declined to accept an apology delivered by the Health Service Executive, citing it as “six years too late”.

On the 11th February 2009, Caoimhe Mulcair was born at Limerick’s Midland Regional Hospital. Her parents, Joan and John, had been trying to have a child for many years and were elated at the birth. However, very shortly after the delivery, it was noticed that Caoimhe’s cry was abnormal for a newborn. The baby was then transferred to the hospital’s special care unit, but died just thirty-nine minutes after her birth in her mother’s arms.

After seeking legal counsel, Joan and John made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Health Service Executives (HSE) and the Midland General Hospital. In the claim, they allege that the hospital’s failure to act after Caoimhe’s foetal heart rate was noted as slow, which resulted in her being starved of oxygen in utero. However, the HSE disputed these allegations until September 2014, at which time the Mulcairs were offered an undisclosed settlement of compensation.

Last week, a court in Limerick ruled that Caoimhe had died because of medical misadventure. This was based on evidence that a slow foetal heart lead to the deprivation of oxygen to her brain. During the hearing, Collette Cowan, Chief Executive of the Midland Regional Hospital, read an apology to Joan and John for their daughter’s death.

Yet this apology was rejected by the couple, who told reporters that it was delivered “six years too late”. John told reporters, once the inquest had finished, that whilst the couple were fighting for a compensation settlement, the HSE issued no apology and that it was shameful that the HSE “an ordinary decent family through the pain and torment we had to endure for over six years”.

Later, a spokesperson for the HSE clarified that they did not handle compensation disputes, but the State Claims Agency did. However, a columnist for the Irish Times was not impressed by this “passing of the buck”, writing that “A common interest links the HSE and the claims agency and there has been a persistent pattern of denial, prevarication and years of unnecessary delay in dealing with medical claims. The public and aggrieved patients deserve better. So do the vast majority of medical professionals

Soar in Compensation Awarded by High Court

A thirty-four percent rise in the number of compensation settlements awarded by the High Court has been observed in 2014, with some claiming that this is because of over-generous judges.

Emer Lang, an analyst at Davy Stockbrokers, first noticed this increase in compensation awarded by the High Court when she collected information from the Courts Service Annual Report. The data showed that, in total, €155 million in compensation was given out, spread over five hundred and nine personal injury claims, in 2014.

This worked out to be an average of €304,000 per claim, and when compared with the average value of €227,000 in 2013, it showed that there was a 34% increase between the two years. The average value for assessments that were conducted by the Injuries Board did not increase over the same period, remaining at roughly €22,600.

Consultants from the motor insurance industry have reported their shock at the new figures. Conor Faughnan, at AA Ireland, commented that the judges dealing with these claims needed to be trained to help them gain an understanding that the compensation that they award is ultimately paid for the country’s two million drivers.

However, others blamed recent changes to the Courts and Civil Law Act in 2013, which meant that any case that was expected to settle for over €60,000 had to be heard in the High Court. Before this, the limit was €38,092. The Motor Insurance Advisory Board’s Founding Chairperson, Dorothea Dowling, claims that the plaintiffs are preferably using the High Court System, over the Injuries Board, in the hope of receiving more money.

“The Department of Justice was forewarned well in advance,” Ms Dowling told the Independent Newspaper. “This is what happens when you increase the limits of the lower courts – it sends out the message that €38,000 is small money.”

However, Mr Justice Bernard Barton does not agree – last July, he criticised the government for not updating injury compensation values in the Book of Quantum (upon which the Injuries Board bases its assessments) since 2004.

Judge Barton commented in McGarry vs McGarry that “it is unquestionably in the interests of the proper administration of justice that the Book be reviewed and be kept updated to properly reflect [High Court compensation awards]”.

Teenager Awarded Compensation for Birth Injury Claim

Dublin’s High Court have approved a seven-figure settlement of compensation for a teenage boy who sustained grave brain damage at his birth.

On the 6th September 1996, Thomas O’Connor was born at the Sligo General Hospital. As he was diagnosed with foetal distress in utero, Thomas was delivered by emergency Caesarean section, yet when he was born he did not show any signs of life. The baby was resuscitated with a breathing tube.

In the claim for birth negligence compensation, Thomas’ mother alleges that the delivery of Thomas and his subsequent resuscitation was negligent. Twice, Thomas was starved of oxygen, which caused severe brain damage that has rendered Thomas a spastic quadriplegic. He is also blind, and can only eat through a tube.

Ann O’Connor, on her son’s behalf, made the claim against the Sligo General Hospital. She alleges that there were necessary delays of up to four hours in Thomas’ delivery. She also alleges that the heart attack that Thomas suffered whilst on his way to the Intensive Care Unit was a direct result of medical staff inserting the resuscitation tube too deeply into Thomas’ throat.

The allegations of birth injury negligence were denied by the Health Service Executives, who also disputed the claim for compensation. The case proceeded to the High Court of Dublin, where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Expert witnesses testified that, though a CTG trace showed obvious indications of an elevated foetal heart rate, it had been discontinued the morning of Thomas’ delivery. Additionally, they said that the tube had been inserted to a depth of 14 cm, despite guidelines outlining it should be inserted to a depth of 9 – 10 cm.

The judge was also informed that negotiations between the parties had determined that a settlement of €1.75 million was agreed between the parties, without an admission of liability by the HSE. Judge Cross approved the settlement, commenting on his delight that the ordeal of claiming compensation was complete for Thomas’ family. The money from the settlement will be used to pay for Thomas’ care in a residential care home in Sligo.

Birth Injury Settlement Awarded After 18 Day Delay

Dublin’s High Court have approved a multi-million euro settlement for a child that was born with severe injuries because of a delayed delivery. 

When Alex Butler was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005, she was described as “blue and lifeless”. This was because a doctor, who was substituting for Alex’s mother’s regular obstetrician, did not diagnosed that there were complications in Alex’s birth. As a result, there was a delay of ten minutes in her delivery. 

During this time, Alex was started of oxygen in the womb and sustained severe damage to her brain. Despite this, Alex is described as possessing a “bright personality with a huge intelligence”. However, she is also tetraplegic and relies on a wheelchair for movement. She will need round-the-clock care for the rest of her life. 

Acting on behalf of her daughter, Sonya Butler made a claim for Alex’s birth injuries against the Health Service Executive and Waterford Regional Hospital. The HSE acknowledged liability for Alex’s injuries, and negotiated with the family to organise an interim settlement of compensation in 2013 such that  structured settlement of periodic payments could be introduced. As a result the case was adjourned for two years. 

However, the legislation required for such a periodic settlement to be established was never introduced. As such, the family returned to the High Court, where their case was overseen by Mr Justice Anthony Barr. 

To begin the hearing, an apology was read to Alex and her parents by a spokesperson representing Waterford Regional Hospital. However, after this the parties could not agree as to how much compensation Alex was entitled to due to her severe disabilities. 

The parties continued to negotiate the settlement for eighteen days after the initial hearing. Eventually, an agreement was reached, and a €9 million settlement of compensation was approved by Judge Barr in the High Court. The judge commented that the settlement was both reasonable and fair. 

Alex’s parents were shocked and disappointed at the protracted negotiations, with Sonya criticising the State Claims Agency when speaking with reporters after the announcement of the settlement: “They fought tooth and nail. They basically want Alex to have an existence, not a life. They want her to scrape by with the bare minimum rather than her having the life that she should have had.”

Six-Figure Compensation Settlement for Medical Instruments Left in Patient

A compensation settlement of €140,000 has been awarded to a woman after a vaginal swab was left inside her after the birth of her child. 

Claire Lalor, from Swords in Co. Dublin, gave birth to her child on the 24th December 2012 at the National Maternity Hospital. Claire was discharged three days after the birth, but returned twice within the next two weeks as she experiencing pain in her abdomen and had a malodorous vagina. 

However, on neither visit to the maternity hospital was Claire internally examined, though on her second visit she was prescribed antibiotics to clear what medical staff expected to be an infection. However, the smell became worse and Claire continued to experience severe pain. On the 16th January she returned to the hospital and was eventually examined, after which it was discovered that a vaginal swab had been left inside Claire after her labour. 

Despite the removal of the swab, Claire continued to feel pain and discomfort. After her visit to the hospital on the 18th January, she was discharged after a diagnosis of post-natal depression. Yet her condition deteriorated, and Claire began to suffer from sweating, chills and diarrhoea. 

Claire then visited Beaumont Hospital, where she was told that she had a Clostridium difficile infection, which was contracted as a result of the unnecessary diagnosis of antibiotics. After her recovery, Claire sought legal counsel before making a claim for compensation because of the trauma and pain she suffered as a result of the swab being left inside her. 

Liability for Claire’s injuries was acknowledged by the National Maternity Hospital, though they contested the extent to which Claire suffered psychologically. They argued that her symptoms could all be attributed to post-natal depression, rather than the trauma of the forgotten swab. There was no agreement over the amount of compensation to which Claire was entitled, and as such the case proceeded to the High Court of Dublin for an assessment of damages. 

Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings in the High Court, where he agreed with the consensus at the hospital that the difficult labour was a good indicator that Claire suffered from post-natal depression. He also agreed that her continuing symptoms could be attributed to an underlying condition. 

However, Judge Cross conceded that – had Claire received adequate post-natal care – her recovery from post-natal depression would have been faster, and that Claire was “entirely appropriately extremely distressed” by the experience. Claire was then awarded €140,000 for the injuries and infections she sustained because of the forgotten vaginal swab. 

Judge Barton Lends Support to Structured Payment Systems for Hospital Negligence Compensation Settlements

Hospital negligence compensation settlements may be resolved by a structured payment system in future after High Court judge shows support for the idea.

Several high-profile High Court judges have previously commented that there is a need for legislation to enable structured payment systems for hospital negligence compensation settlements-including Mr Justice John Quirke, Ms Justice Mary Irvine, and Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill. They suggested that the way in which such claims are settled at the moment can be a lottery on the basis of the anticipated life expectancy of a seriously injured victim.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton added his support to the movement last month, whilst presiding over the O’Neill vs National Maternity Hospital, a case involving a young girl born in the hospital in 2007. She suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of negligence by the hospital staff in regards to her birth. The defendants admit liability for her injuries, and wants to make an interim settlement of compensation. However, the mother of the young girl wants to a full settlement to be offered. Neither party can agree as to how much compensation the girl is entitled to.

The hospital wants to make an interim settlement of compensation as there is considerable conflict between parties about the costs of the girl’s future needs and potential loss of earnings. Therefore, offering an interim settlement would allow to compile a report over the next ten years to more accurately assess the correct settlement figure. However, her mother declined this settlement, on the grounds that her daughter may suffer psychological harm during ten years of continuous assessment.

The judge and both parties agreed that if structured payment systems were in place, it would be easier to resolve the dispute over how much compensation the girl-or any catastrophically injured plaintiff-should receive. Negotiations in this case continue, with hopes of them reaching an end in the near future.

Judge Approves Interim Compensation for Inappropriate Use of Syntocinon

A judge at the High Court in Dublin has approved an interim settlement of compensation for inappropriate use of Syntocinon during labour, which resulted in a baby boy being born with kinetic cerebral palsy.

Patrick Brannigan (7) was born by emergency Caesarean Section at Cavan General Hospital in July 2007. To aid with her labour, his mother-Niamh Brannigan of Castleblayeny, County Monaghan-was administered a dose of the drug.

However, a CTG trace had shown that the unborn baby was in distress in the womb, suggesting that Syntocinon should not be used. When the drug was administered, instead of speeding up labour, it deprived Patrick of oxygen.

As a result, he was born with dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Patrick is now confined to a wheelchair, and will never be able to live a life independent of his parents. He has no proper means of combination with others.

On behalf of her son, Niamh made a claim for the inappropriate use of the synthetic drug, claiming that the medical staff at the hospital had mismanaged the birth, thus resulting in Patrick being born with the disease.

The defendants admitted liability for the injury, acknowledging that Syntocinon should not have been administered in that case, given the evidence of foetal distress. An apology was issued to the family, and interim compensation of €2.1million was offered as settlement. Seeing as Patrick was a minor, such compensation needed to be approved by a judge in court.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard the case at the Dublin High Court earlier this week. The circumstances surrounding the birth were presented to him, and he heard that Patrick was a cheerful and good-natured boy. As a result, he approved the interim settlement of compensation for inappropriate use of Syntocinon.

Judge Cross adjourned the claim for three years so that Patrick’s future needs could be thoroughly assessed. It is hoped that legislation will soon be passed so that the family could receive periodic payments to settle the claim for inappropriate use of the drug during labour.

 

Compensation Claim for Failure to Treat Meningitis Settled

A claim made on behalf of a young boy, who was not treated properly after he contracted meningitis, has been resolved in court for a seven-figure interim compensation settlement.

When Matthew McGrath was just seventeen months old on the 27th March 2004, he was admitted to Wexford General Hospital. His symptoms included vomiting and drowsiness, and as such, he was diagnosed with Haemophilus Influenza Type B. This is an established precursor to meningitis, and as such, Matthew should have been given antibiotics.

Matthew was kept in hospital overnight, where his condition worsened. He then went into shock, and in spite of the medical guidelines advising against it, a lumbar puncture was performed. This confirmed that Matthew, indeed, had meningitis, but because of the compression to his spinal chord Matthew is now permanently paralysed.

Due to the failure in care – both for the lack of antibiotics and the inappropriate lumbar puncture, Matthew cannot move any of his limbs and is reliant on a ventilator to breathe. He spent the next two years in hospital, until finally being discharged and returned to his parents’ care.

Cathy McGrath made a claim for compensation on her son’s behalf. In the claim, it was alleged that had Matthew received adequate treatment upon his admission to Wexford General Hospital, he would not be as severely debilitated as he is now.

An investigation ensued at the hospital, and liability for Matthew’s injuries was admitted by the HSE. After issuing an apology, an interim compensation settlement of €3.7 million was agreed upon – though it first needed to be approved by a judge, as it was for a minor.

The case proceeded to the High Court in Dublin, where Mr Justice Cross overheard proceedings. He was detailed the circumstances of the case, and approved the interim settlement. The case was then adjourned for five years such that an assessment of Matthew’s future needs could be conducted.

Claim for Injuries due to Failure to Treat Meningitis Heard at High Court

A Dublin High Court has heard a case of injuries sustained by a young boy due to failure of medical staff at a hospital to correctly treat his meningitis.

In May 2004, Matthew McGrath (then 17 months old) was brought to Wexford General Hospital after his parents noticed that he was vomiting fluids and was unusually sleepy. Matthew was immediately diagnosed with Haemophilus Influenza Type B-a bacteria which is known to lead to meningitis. Matthew should have been administered antibiotics immediately.

Matthew’s condition quickly deteriorated and he went into shock. Matthew underwent lumbar puncture to confirm his case of meningitis, despite medical guidelines against such a procedure when the patient is in shock. As a result of the compression to his spinal cord, Matthew is now permanently paralysed.

Matthew cannot move his arms or legs and his breathing is assisted by a ventilator as a consequence to the medical negligence he experienced during his procedure. It was two years before he finally left hospital and started being cared for by his parents at home.

On behalf of her son, Cathy McGrath made a claim for failure to treat her son’s meningitis against the HSE. She claimed that if her son had been administered the antibiotics and fluids as required when he initially arrived at Wexford General Hospital, he never would have needed the lumbar puncture, and as a result sustained such debilitating injuries.

An investigation was launched into the failure to treat the meningitis. The HSE admitted liability, and an interim settlement of €3.7 million was negotiated. Since Matthew is a minor, the compensation had to be approved by a judge before his family could accept it.

Mr Justice Matthew Cross heard the case at the High Court in Dublin. After hearing the circumstances of Matthew’s injuries, the judge approved the settlement. The claim has been adjourned for five years so that an investigation into Matthew’s future needs can be conducted. A full compensation settlement will be negotiated as a result of this investigation.

 

Judge Finds HSE Liable in Hydrocephalus Case

A High Court Judge has found the HSE liable for a hydrocephalus brain injury after a young girl was left physically and mentally disabled for life.

In April 2008, Ava Kiernan-just three months old at the time-was displaying symptoms of hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”). The disease is caused by spinal fluid collecting in the skull as a result of it not draining from the brain. It is diagnosed in children under a year old by bulges appearing around the skull, or by the quick increase in the circumference of the head.

Her mother brought her to be examined by a public health nurse, who did not act on her mother’s concerns, or arrange a follow-up consultation for Ava. Had a such a consultation been organised, the rapid change in the size of the young girl’s head would have been identified. However, her skull was not measured until September that year. This measurement was performed incorrectly, resulting in inaccurate results.

Due to these errors, and the original nurse’s negligence, the pressure of the spinal fluid in the skull resulted in Ava suffering from brain damage. She now suffers from both physical and mental disabilities.

On her daughter’s behalf, Ruth Kiernan sought legal advice, and made a hydrocephalus brain injury claim for compensation against the HSE. The claim was contested by the defendant, resulting in the case being brought before Mr Justice Kevin Cross in the High Court in Dublin. After a hearing of three weeks, the judge ruled in Ava’s favour. He stated that if there had been the appropriate follow-up examination, or if the measurement of her head in September had been carried out correctly, the hydrocephalus would have been identified and suitably treated. Had it been identified, the judge stated that Ava never would have suffered the brain damage due to the excess of fluid.

Judge Cross adjourned the case so that an investigation into Ava’s future needs could be assessed, and an appropriate settlement could be made to provide for her future.

Court Resolves Claim for Erb’s Palsy

A claim for compensation made by an eleven-year-old girl who was injured at birth has been resolved in court without an admission of liability.

When Keelan Murray was born in January 2004 at the National Maternity Hospital, she was diagnosed with shoulder dystocia. This is a dangerous, emergency condition that occurs when the infant’s shoulders fail to clear the mother’s pubis symphsis. It can lead to damage of the brachial plexus nerve if excessive force is used to free the baby. This may heal over time, but for Keelan, the injury remained permanent, resulting in a diagnosis of Erb’s palsy.

Keelan, who lives in Newtownmountkennedy in Co. Wicklow, has never gained motor control over her right arm and is now reliant just on her left hand for most tasks. She has also been forced to learn how to write with her left hand, which was unnatural for her.

In 2012, a surgery was undertaken that attempted to repair the damage, but it was unsuccessful. Sharon, Keelan’s mother, made a claim for compensation for the birth injury against the National Maternity Hospital. The claim alleges that excess force was used to free Keelan of the birth canal, despite the fact dystocia had already been diagnosed.

The hospital denied any liability for Keelan’s injuries, though negotiations continued to proceed between the parties. Eventually, a compensation settlement of €250,000 was negotiated between the parties, though the hospital never admitted liability.

However, as the claim was made on behalf of a minor, the case needed to proceed to court so the compensation claim could be approved by a judge. This ensures that the settlement is in the minor’s best interest. The case was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court in Dublin.

At the hearing, Judge Cross was told that Keelan actively participated in many sports activities in despite of her disability. He ruled that it was prudent to accept the compensation settlement for Erb’s palsy without the admission of liability, and finished by wishing Keelan well for the future.

Compensation for Mismanaged Birth Approved in Court

 

A young child has been awarded a seven-figure settlement of compensation for birth injuries resulting from a mismanaged birth.

Kevin Dunphy-English was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital on the 9th July 2010. Upon his birth, the baby – who now lives in Mooncoin in County Kilkenny – was diagnosed as “neurologically compromised”. For over three weeks after his delivery, Kevin was in an intensive care unit. He suffers from cerebral palsy, and can currently only walk for short distances – in the future, he will be reliant on the use of a wheelchair for movement.

Jane, Kevin’s mother, made a claim for his mismanaged birth and resulting injuries on behalf of her son against the Waterford Regional Hospital. In the claim, she alleges that though a foetal blood sample was taken at 1:40 am, there was no record of the foetal heart rate until 2:30 am.

The legal action claims that, had medical staff taken another blood sample after the foetal heart rate was detected, the decision to intervene in Kevin’s death would have been made sooner. An investigation carried out into the allegations of a mismanaged birth discovered that, had Kevin been delivered an hour earlier, he would not have sustained his current injures.

Though the Health Service Executives (HSE) acknowledged that Kevin’s birth was not adequately managed, and that there was negligence on Waterford Regional Hospital’s part for not delivering Kevin quickly enough. Through negotiation, they settled compensation claims made for Kevin’s injuries and for the nervous shock suffered by his parents. However, as the claim was made on behalf of a minor the settlement had to be approved by the courts.

Before the High Court hearing was to commence, Mr Justice Kevin Cross met Kevin in his chambers. Judge Cross was told of Kevin’s progress at pre-school, and his parents’ hopes that he will be in a mainstream class when he goes to primary school. Kevin was termed “a lovely little lad” by the judge, and his parents were commended for their dedication to their son.

Kevin was awarded €2 million in compensation for the injuries he sustained as a result of his mismanaged birth. However, this is but an interim settlement and the case was adjourned for five years such that an assessment damages could be conducted. Once this has been carried out, Kevin’s parents will be offered either a lump sum or a structured scheme of periodic payments.

 

Medical Protection Society’s Protocols Well Received

The Medical Protection Society’s protocols regarding the reduction costs of hospital negligence claims in Ireland have been well received so far.

The Medical Protection Society-the non-profit organisation responsible for providing legal assistance to those working in the medical sector-has brought forward proposals for “pre-trial protocols” which aim to lower the costs of hospital negligence claims. There are significant expenses involved in bringing legal action against the Health Service Executive (HSE), a problem that the Medical Protection Society is keen to fix.

Their aim is to make communication between the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s legal teams easier by promoting openness and transparency on both sides. They also want to provide an opportunity for each negligence claim made against the hospital to be investigated-and potentially resolved-before litigation is even necessary.

This improved dialogue between sides should lower the costs of medical negligence claims in hospitals across Ireland by creating less adversarial processes. In both England and Wales, solicitors suffer financial penalties if they go straight to the litigation procedure without first attempting some sort of mediation. If the MPS is successful, such penalties would not be required.

Emma Hallinan-the MPS’s Director of Claims-proposes that the protocol should first be trialled voluntarily before any legislation is introduced. She states: “We recognise the important role that the MPS must play, and have committed to trialling procedural reform before it is introduced in statute. We are in the process of writing to plaintiff lawyers with large medical negligence practices to request that they work with us to pilot this.”

Among the various proposals put forward by the Medical Protection Society, a tariff of general damages would be introduced. This is comparable to the Judicial College’s “Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases” in the UK. It would act as a scale of compensation awards for specific physical injuries caused by hospital negligence, ranging from dental damage to severe brain trauma.

Other general damages-such as loss of amenity and emotional trauma-as well as special damages to replace lost incense and expenses would still require negotiation between parties to resolve. Many who have read the proposals commend the MPS, stating that they are heading in the right direction to lower the costs of making such hospital negligence claims in Ireland.

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.

Medical Negligence Claim Heard in High Court

A family have been awarded €2.75 million as an interim settlement of compensation for negligence of their consultant obstetrician.

In November 2001, James McCarthy of Clonmel, County Tipperary was born by emergency Caesarean Section at thirty-three weeks. A scan revealed that his twin brother had died in the womb, prompting the emergency medical actions. The baby boy was born with severe disabilities, and diagnosed with cerebral palsy a year after he was born.

On behalf of their son, James Cooney and Linda McCarthy made an injury compensation claim against Dr Raymond Howard-working at St Joseph’s Hospital-the consultant obstetrician who had looked after Linda during the later stages of her pregnancy with James.

Linda claimed that she had been referred to St Joseph’s Hospital for ante natal care and was seen by Dr Howard’s registrar. A scan was conducted, and the registrar wanted to admit Linda to hospital immediately over concerns of the twins that she was carrying.

Dr Howard dismissed his registrar’s concerns, and told Linda that she was to return to him a week later. When she did, a scan revealed that one of the twins that she was carrying had died during that time. This prompted them to deliver James by Caesarean Section immediately. Due to the trauma that James suffered in the womb, he is dependant on his parents for life, as he is unable to walk, talk or sit up by himself.

Linda stated that, although Dr Howard was her obstetrician, the first time that they had actually met was the day after her son was born. She alleged that neither her health not her son’s had been investigated, monitored, diagnosed or treated during the latter part of her pregnancy. She further claimed that James’ injuries could have been avoided in the doctor had taken greater care.

Dr Howard admitted liability for the young boy’s injuries and, at the Dublin High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was informed that an interim settlement of compensation of €2.75 million had been agreed upon.

The judge approved this settlement, and adjourned the case for a further three years so that an investigation into James’ future needs could be completed.

 

Case for Medication Side Effects Heard at High Court

A woman’s claim for compensation due to severe and life-altering side effects of her medication has been heard at the High Court. 

Lorna Savage (43) of Cobh, County Cork, has been granted with permission to pursue her claim for compensation for medication side effects against the manufacturer of the medication-Pfizer-after a hearing at the High Court. Pfizer had applied to have the case dismissed due to the length of time that had passed since the claim was first filed against them.

Mr Justice George Birmingham heard at the hearing that Lorna was first prescribed the steroid Deltacortril in 1997 to treat the skin disorder vasculitis. Vasculitis is a condition which in which damaged blood vessels cluster together and cause an irritable rash on the surface of the skin.

Lorna claims that after a few years of taking the steroid, her condition deteriorated due to her developing Avascular Necrosis. This disease had been established as a rare side effect to the steroid Deltacortril, and prevents blood from reaching the bones of the knee and hip joints. This lack of blood causes the bone tissue in these areas to die-ultimately resulting in the knee and hip bones collapsing entirely.

Four years after her initial prescription, Lorna had both of her knees and one of her hips replaced. The Avascular Necrosis had spread to such an extent that she is now entirely reliant on a wheelchair to move, and has to take morphine to deal with the continual discomfort of the disease.

Lorna sought legal advice, and made a claim for medication side effects against the two doctors who had prescribed her the drug-GP Dr Michael Madigan and her consultant doctor at the Cork University Hospital-Dr M Molloy.

In her claim against Dr Madigan’s estate (he died in 1999), Lorna claimed that he had failed to fully investigate her skin condition and had been negligent to her health in prescribing her Deltacortril when he should have been aware of all potential side effects. In her claim against Dr Molloy, Lorna claimed that he had been negligent in recognising the symptoms of Avascular Necrosis.

Lorna also made a further claim for medication side effects compensation against the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. She claimed that he company did not provide a warning in the literature that accompanied their stereos that their use could case Avascular Necrosis, and had not advised against the consumption of alcohol while taking the tablets.

All of the defendants denied that they were guilty of negligence, and Pfizer applied to have Lorna’s claim dismissed on the grounds of “an inordinate and inexcusable delay” in bringing her case to court.

At court, the judge was informed that the cause of the delay was due to Lorna being unable to instruct her solicitors as she had undergone a total of seven major operations. Mr Justice George Birmingham ruled the delay “excusable”, and denied Pfizer’s application to dismiss the case. The case was listed for a full hearing later in the year.

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”.

Court Approves Interim Compensation Settlement for Medical Negligence

A second interim compensation settlement has been approved by a judge for failure to act on CTG readings of a woman in labour, resulting in her son being born with cerebral palsy.

When Luke Miggin, now aged eight from Athboy in Co. Meath, was born in February 2006 he was starved of oxygen in the womb. Luke was born at the Mullingar General Hospital, where his mother’s obstetrician – Mr Michael Gannon – did not act upon abnormal CTG readings that indicated a slow foetal heartbeat.

Luke had to be resuscitated upon his birth and transferred to a special unit, where the diagnosis of cerebral palsy was made. Luke is now reliant on round-the-clock care, and is unable to walk.

Emily, Luke’s mother, made a claim for compensation on her son’s behalf against Mr Gannon and the Health Service Executive. In 2010, the HSE admitted liability for Luke’s injuries, and an initial interim compensation settlement was approved by Mr Justice John Quirke. The case was then adjourned to allow legislation to pass that would entitle Luke to a more suitable settlement.

However, when the case was heard again this year, the aforementioned legislation had not yet been passed. The case was heard at Dublin’s High Court, where Ms Justice Mary Irvine criticised the Minister of Justice for this failure, saying that it prevented many families from moving on from their tragedies.

Judge Irvine proceeded to approve a second settlement of compensation for Luke, and the case was adjourned for a further three years.

Doctor Found Negligent in Undiagnosed Cancer Case

 

A judge has awarded compensation to the family of a woman who died after suffering from an undiagnosed tumour, with the doctor found at fault for negligence. 

In April 2009, Sharon McEneaney (31) of Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, died from a cancerous tumour that grew in her abdomen. She first sought medical attention for pain in the region in the emergency department of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda eighteen months prior to her death, but the tumour was not recognised.

The cancer went undiagnosed for a further nine months, and was only identified when Sharon was given a biopsy in June 2008, due to the intervention for Dr Rory O’Hanlon, a former TD. By the time the cancer was recognised, the tumour had grown too large to be treated. Sharon died of the cancer the following year.

An investigation into Sharon’s death was launched by the Health Service Executive (HSE), and it complied a report of 38 recommendations to prevent future failures to diagnose cancer. In January 2012, Dr Etop Samson Akan was found guilty of a poor professional performance by the Medical Council of Ireland’s Fitness to Practise Committee for his treatment of Sharon.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court in Dublin oversaw the case when it was brought to court. The court heard the General Manager of the Louth & Meath Hospital Group-Margaret Swords-read out an apology to Sharon’s family, admitting that the hospital had failed Sharon. The apology also stated that the hospital was making progress in making the changes required to prevent a similar incident from happening again. The court heard in the five years following Sharon’s death, the hospital had implemented six of the HSE’s recommendations.

Sharon’s family received compensation for the failure to diagnose cancer after negotiations between the two parties, valued at €62,500. Sharon’s funeral and other expenses related to her death have been covered by €10,000 settlement, and a further €27,100 in compensation has been awarded for the failure to diagnose the cancer to Sharon’s mother Jane. The remainder of the settlement is being shared between Sharon’s siblings.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine closed the hearing after commending Sharon´s family for their courage, and commented “You have shown marvellous fortitude in the face of such a loss”.

No Judgement Passed in HIV Mix-Up Case

A judge has reserved judgement in a case involving a young women incorrectly being told that she had been infected by HIV after test results had been mixed-up.

In August 2010, Michelle Kenny (35) of Crumlin, Dublin, just returned from a holiday in Majorca when she began to feel unwell. She attended St James Hospital in Dublin, and underwent an ECG and blood tests, and had an x-ray of her chest taken in an attempt to diagnose what was wrong with her.

Michelle remained in hospital for a week, as medical staff believed that she may have a blood clot on her lung. When she was discharged, she still had to wait for the result of a blood test for tuberculosis. Michelle also underwent a blood test for HIV when she returned to the Outpatients Clinic early the following month.

A week after this tests, Michelle received a phone call from her doctor stating that although she was clear for TB, the HIV test that was completed came back as positive. Three further tests were taken, all of which indicated that a mistake had been made with the initial test, and Michelle did not in fact have HIV.

An investigation was launched into the case, and it was revealed that the doctor at St James Hospital had given her the wrong person’s results. Michelle sought legal counsel, and made a claim for compensation for nervous shock against the hospital. She alleged that the news, albeit incorrect, had stopped her from socialising and caused a change in her lifestyle.

The defendants contested the claim, stating that Michelle had not suffered any loss or damages due to the mix-up. They argued that Michelle had quickly been informed of the mistake, and therefor was not entitled to any compensation for the mix-up. Michelle told the court, “I was devastated. I thought I was going to die, that I had no future.”

Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon heard the case, and stated that she would reserve judgement on the claim for test result mix-up compensation for a later date.

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.

HSE Issues Apology for Negligence Resulting in Woman’s Death

At the High Court, the HSE has issued an apology for negligence at a hospital which resulted in a woman dying of dehydration.

In January 2010, Eileen Brady was referred to the Cavan General Hospital by her GP after she had been diagnosed with a poor fluid intake which was manifesting in mouth ulcers. Eileen was admitted to hospital, but died a day later. It was revealed that her death was due to dehydration, which caused many of her organs to fail.

An investigation was launched into Eileen’s death, and it was reported that the treatment that Eileen had received for her dehydrated stated was ineffective in helping her, as her veins had collapsed due to the chemotherapy treatment that she was undergoing in a Dublin hospital to treat her stomach cancer.

It was also revealed that the death was entirely preventable had Eileen’s medical charts been examined more closely. If senior, more experienced physicians had been consulted as Eileen’s condition deteriorated further and further, or if Cavan General Hospital had leased with the Dublin hospital that was treating Eileen for her cancer, the condition of her veins could have been revealed and her death could have been prevented.

Martin Brady of Crosskeys, County Cavan-Eileen’s son-sought legal counsel and sued the Cavan General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE) on behalf of his entire family. He claimed that Eileen’s death had been avoidable if the above measures were taken, and that Eileen’s death had caused the family mental distress. The HSE admitted liability for Eileen’s death, and a compensation settlement was agreed out of court, subject to the family receiving a public apology.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine oversaw the hearing at the High Court. A representative of the HSE read out a statement in which the hospital and the HSE both apologised for the negligence care which resulted in Eileen’s death, and the subsequent grief and stress that had been suffered by her friends and family.

Responding on behalf of the family, Aidan Brady said he hoped that both Cavan General Hospital and the HSE had learned from “the grave mistakes” made in the care of his mother “and that no other family would have to go through the trauma and distress that we have suffered”.

Health Secretary Aims to Reduce Cost of Medical Negligence

The minister for health has declared that he aims to reduce the cost of medical negligence to the UK by reducing the number of claims made each year. 

The UK’s Secretary for Health-Jeremy Hunt-has released a statement saying that he wants to reduce health service negligence claims by having those responsible for medical errors acknowledge their mistakes and apologise to patients.

The comments were delivered in a press interview regarding the new guidelines that were sent to every hospital in England and Wales. These guidelines recommended that doctors and nurses “say sorry” in circumstances where there had been a failure in the duty of care. Mr Hunt has suggested that medical professionals in the health service are reluctant to apologise because of their fear of litigation.

Catherine Dixon-chief executive of the NHS Litigation Authority-agreed with the Secretary of Health’s views. She stated that: “Saying sorry is the human and moral thing to do. We won´t say that we are not going to cover you [in the settlement of health service negligence claims] because you’ve said sorry. We are not like a car insurer who will withhold a claim because an apology has been given. Saying sorry is not an admission of legal liability”.

Mr Hunt cited the University of Michigan as an example of how the suggestions work. The University is one of the safest medical centres in the United States, and has seen the number of medical negligence claims for compensation halve in the past decade after adopting the practice of “apologising and learning when you are wrong, explaining and vigorously defending when we are right, and viewing court as a last resort”.

The Health Secretary tweeted that the University of Michigan´s approach was an “interesting example of how being open and saying sorry could slash the litigation bill. [We] want to see similar results in the NHS”. He also stated that half the health service negligence claims received by the NHS Litigation Authority were “without merit”.

Recently released figures show that the number of health service negligence claims received so far this year is expected to increase by a quarter to 12,000, and that around 20 percent of the health service’s annual budget of £22 billion is being set aside to pay compensation to thousands of people who have suffered a loss, an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition due to poor medical care received.