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Over 2,000 Calls in Three Days to Special Helpline for CervicalCheck Scare

In excess of 2,000 calls were recorded by the special CervicalCheck Helpline, set up by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in the aftermath of revelations that a number of women were given the incorrect smear test results in 2011. A review of the test results in 2014 identified that the mistakes had occurred but those impacted were not notified for a further three years, during which time it is believed that a number of these women passed away.

Vicky Phelan, who was informed in January 2018 that she has between 6-12 months to live settled her High Court Compensation against the US laboratory last week Ms Phelan for €2.5m incorrect diagnosis compensation.

Ms Phelan has claimed that she was told in September 2017 that she was just one of ten women whose results were re-examined in 2014 by the laboratory. When she asked her doctor if any of those affected by the incorrect smear test results had died, he said he knew of three individuals who had passed away.

The head of the CervicalCheck programme Ms Gráinne Flannelly, has resigned from her position due to the controversy which recently came to light. Time the cervical cancer had become terminal.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney revealed, in an interview RTÉ’s that the Government has already begun to introduce changes smear test procedures and the manner in which patients are made aware of an incorrect diagnosis. Mr Coveney said: “I think learning from this case, I think the Government will move forward on the recommendation of Minister Harris that in cases like this patients are entitled to information quickly. Sometimes it takes cases like Vicky Phelan’s cases to ensure policy change happens quickly”.

The special phoneline was launched last weekend to answer queries from all concerned people. A representative for the HSE’s Serious Incident Management Team (SIMT) was extremely busy. He stated: “The SIMT was informed that the helpline was once again very busy today. As of 1:30pm there were 614 contacts.”

 

€2.5m in Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis Compensation for Terminally-Ill Mother

Vicky Phelan, a terminally-ill mother of two, has settled her case against a US lab for €2.5m after being incorrectly advised that she did not have cancer in 2011.

Mrs Phelan from Annacotty, Co Limerick was told in January 2017 that she has less than 12 months to live. In 2011 she had been advised that there were no abnormalities present in the smear sample sent to Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc. in Austin, Texas. Unfortunately,  following her next smear test in 2014 it was found that she now had cervical cancer. Unbeknownst to Mrs Phelan, the company that tested the sample in 2011 found , in a review that those result had been incorrect. She was not advised of this discovery until 2017.

Legal representative for Mrs Phelan argued, in her High Court compensation action which began last week, that if the cancerous cells had been correctly detected in 2011 she would have had a standard procedure that would have given her a 90% chance of survival.

Her (Mrs Phelan’s) legal action against the Health Service Executive was struck out as the cervical cancer misdiagnosis compensation settlement was awarded against the US laboratory Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas only, with no admission of liability required.

Following  the announcement of the cancer misdiagnosis compensation Mrs Phelan spoke outside the court and called made a plea for an investigation into the CervicalCheck screening programme to be begun.

She said: “To know for almost three years a mistake had been made and I was misdiagnosed was bad enough but to keep that from me until I became terminally ill and to drag me through the courts to fight for my right to the truth is an appalling breach of trust and I truly hope some good will come of this case and there will be an investigation in the CervicalCheck programme as a result of this.”

In giving approval for the smear test compensation settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he was satisfied  the case had settled and referred to Ms Phelan as one of the most impressive witnesses he had seen in his court. Additionally he praised the legal teams for getting the compensation action, was only launched in February 2017, to court as quickly as they had.

The mother of two mum, who has recently begun treatment with a new drug, is still hopeful of being taken on to the US programme offering radical innovative treatment and she has already raised €200,000 through a Go Fund Me page. Judge Cross wished Mrs Phelan the best in her this endeavor and said he believed that if anyone could beat this it is her.

 

 

€65,000 Birth Scarring Injury Compensation Awarded to Boy (8)

A birth scarring injury compensation award o f€65,000 has been approved for an eight-year-old boy in the High Court. It was alleged that the boy, Dara Brennan, suffered a facial scarring injury at the time of his birth on November 12, 2009 at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

The physicians treated him attempted a forceps delivery. During these Dara was inflicted with the injuries to his face. The scarring on his cheek and two indentations on the right side of his face that are still clearly visible when he smiles.

Lorraine Brennan, Dara’s mother, with an address at Brayton Park, Kilcock, Co Kildare, sued the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital for her son based on the negligence at the time of his birth on November 12, 2009.

The legal representatives for the Brennan’s told the Court that alleged improper use of forceps inflicted the scars the right side to Dara Brennan’s face. They added that there was a failure to use proper care, competence, judgment and skill required at the time of his birth. It was also argued that a more competent doctor in obstetrics would have avoided inflicted Dara with the scarring injuries. The Coombe hospital’s legal representatives denied these accusations.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said, in approving the birth scarring injury compensation award  that it was as close to appropriate compensation as possible.

20% in Overall amount paid out in Medical Negligence Claim During 2017

The State Claims Agency (SCA) has revealed medical negligence made up, by far, the largest percentage of compensation claims paid out against the State last year.

The main finding of the report was that, by far, that largest portion of compensation pay outs by the SCA in 2017 was taken up by the public medical sector.

In 2017 €248.88m was paid out by the State in relation to clinical negligence claims in 2017. This represents a rise 20.6% on the €206.4m figure paid out during 2016.

The figures were made available to Fianna Fail Finance Spokesman Michael McGrath in response to the question submitted to the Minister for Finance Fine Gael TD Paschal Donohoe. He had asked for financial details of the sums paid out by the State in compensation claims.

The official response from the Minister for Finance show that that the SCA has paid out €1.123bn since 2010 in relation to medical negligence claims. Between this figure for clinical claims, and a further €32.87m in general claims awarded against the general health sector, €1.235bn has been paid out since 2010.

Major rises experienced in compensation claims against the following area over the last seven years:

  • Personal injury claims awarded against the Defence Forces = €23.6m
  • Irish Prison Service personal injury claims = €19m
  • TUSLA, since it was established in 2013, has paid out €11
  • Other state authorities have paid out €111m since 2010.

Other significant point to note from compensation claims made against the state in 2017 were as follows:

  • The SCA, on behalf of Comprehensive and Community Schools, paid out €1.38m
  • Department of Health pay outs were €296,673
  • The Department of Justice paid out €261,569 in personal injury compensation
  • Children’s’ Detention Schools paid out €196,090

Boy (4) Deprived Oxygen at Birth Awarded €15m Compensation

A €15 million compensation settlement for a boy, now aged 4, who was injured during his birth at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin has been approved at The High Court.

The hospital issued an apology to Eoin McCallig and his family, from Dunkineely in Co Donegal, for his injuries and for the devastating consequences for the family.

Eoin’s father, Anthony, said the family could forgive the error. However, they could not reconcile themselves with the way HSE treated their family and others who suffered similarly.

Mr McCallig feels that there must be a “better way” of handling cases involving seriosuly injured children than through litigation actions lasting years to a “bitter end” and last-minute settlement attempts. He told the High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly that something has to change.

He said that the HSE has spent €800m over the last ten years fighting these compensation cases. Mr McCallig felt that this money could be put to better use.

Mr McCallig stated that the birth injury settlement of €15m would never change what happened to Eoin, but it would provide some peace of mind for the family as they knew that Eoin would now be taken care after if anything happened to them.

The court was told that staff at the Coombe Hospital, stopped monitoring Eoin’s heart rate at 9.30am on the morning of his birth. Eoin’s parents believe that if he had been monitored after this, it would have seen he was in distress before he was deliver at around 11.30am. The court heard Eoin wasbeen deprived of oxygen in the 20 minutes leading up to his delivery.

It was argued that if Eoin had been monitored and delivered earlier, he would not have suffered such catastrophic injuries. The court was told Eoin was a very smart boy, but he is unable to walk or talk and can communicate with other people using only with his eyes and facial expressions.

In a media statement released through their solicitor, Michael Boylan, Eoin McCallig’s parents said the Coombe Hospital settlement was welcome but the family “would hand this €15 million settlement back in a heartbeat if Eoin could get back what was robbed from him in those two precious hours before his birth”.

Medical Errors Resulting in 1,000 Deaths in Ireland Every Year: Expert

Roger Murray, a legal professional speaking at a medical negligence conference attended by solicitors, medical workers and patients in early September, estimates that 1,000 unnecessary deaths happen annually every year due to medical negligence.

Mr Murray, joint Managing partner at Callan Tansey solicitors, remarked that the most commonly seen incidents relate to surgery (36 per cent) medicine (24 per cent), maternity (23 per cent) and gynaecology (7.5 per cent).

As a medical negligence specialist solicitor who has been involved in many compensation cases, Mr Murray said that though injured patients and families do have empathy for medical professionals who make mistakes “they cannot abide is systemic and repeated errors”.

He issued a plea for thorough investigations when mistakes do happen and referred to many inquest situations where families learned that desktop reviews had been completed following a death, and the results were not disseminated to appropriate staff. A vital improvement opportunity had been missed.

Mr Murray said 160,000 people attending hospitals in Ireland experience injuries due to human mistakes. Mr Murray was speaking at the Pathways to Progress conference on medical negligence and stated that he believes that there is “no compo culture” when it comes to medical negligence compensation actions in this country, saying that what we are seeing in the legal system is just “the top of a very murky iceberg”.

He went on to say that all those injured in medical incidents report it to the HSE. There are notifications of 34,170 “clinical incidents” annually and, of these, 575 resulted in compensation claims against the HSE, a rate lower than 1.7 per cent.

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.