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Court Informed that Newborn Baby Died 13 Hours after Doctors Withdrew Care

A High Court medical negligence action hearing, that was submitted by the parents of a newborn baby who died “gasping for breath” for a 13-hour period after doctors stopped administering care, has begun.

The compensation action was taken against the Health Service Executive (HSE) by the baby’s parents 31-year-old Tia Suhaila Habib and 39-year-old Robert Coyne (39), from Westmeath. The action is seeking damages for alleged medical negligence and breach of duty regarding in relation to the events that took place during the birth and tragic death of their son Jack Coyne at the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar during September 2016.

On September 23 2016 Jack was delivered, the third child of Tia and Robert, was delivered by caesarian section.

Legal representative for Jack’s parents, Declan Doyle SC, informed the court that he died in his mother’s arms following the “most harrowing 13 hours” during which time the infant was “gasping for breath” after doctors had withdrawn care.

Mr Doyle told the Judge that the medical testimony will show that the child was baby was born with a “very significant” loss of blood and that, due to this, a blood transfusion should have been completed soon after delivery. He added that he will be presented evidence to show that the baby would have survived if a blood transfusion had taken place soon after delivery.

While the HSE first refuted these claims, it has now changed its stance and admitted that a blood transfusion should have taken place. However, it does not accept that doing so would have had a “causative impact upon the outcome”. All other claims are refuted..

In the legal action that was submitted to the High Court, Ms Habib says that she was admitted hospital around 10am as she was suffering with increasingly severe abdominal pains. These had begun in the early hours of the morning of September 23.

After 11am, it was noted that there had been a fleeting deceleration of the baby’s heartbeat and it then became difficult to detect the heart rate. Due to this an emergency lower segment c-section was scheduled and Jack was delivered at 12.59pm, weighing 2.68 kilos, it was claimed that he was pale, limp, with no heart rate and with the umbilical cord around his neck.

The medical team began a number of procedures to treat this, but despite the infant was still  pale and with no respiratory effort. it was also alleged that Doctors from the National Maternity Hospital later did not recommend moving Jack there, as it was thought he could have experienced ed a cardiac arrest in the ambulance, it was claimed. Due to this care was withdrawn and the baby passed away at 5.15am the next day.

Mr Doyle informed the Judge that Jack’s parents have, following the death of their baby, suffered nervous shock and associated injuries. He added that Ms Habib’s and Mr Coyne’s mental health has been significantly impacted. The court was told that the plaintiffs are seeking damages for these injuries that are a result of nervous shock, as well as a fatal claim for solatium as per the Civil Liability Act.

additionally, the plaintiffs are claiming that the defendants did not supply the required adequate care for the safety and wellbeing of them or their son.

The case continues.

€18m Cerebral Palsy Compensation Settlement for Boy Who Suffered Injuries During Delivery

In the High Court A letter of apology from the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) to Fionn Feely has been read out following the approval of a cerebral palsy compensation settlement of €18m for the young boy.

The Dublin hospital apologised for the shortcomings in care at the time of Fionn’s birth, who is now six years old, which resulted in him sustaining significant injuries. The young boy suffers with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, cannot communicate verbally and must be tended to 24-hours a day.

Counsel for the young boy and his family Liam Reidy SC, instructed by Lyndy Cantillon solicitor, informed the High Court that his clients were claiming that Fionna should have been delivered three hours earlier and that he sustained the brain injuries towards the end of the labour.

Fionn, through his father, took legal action against the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street, Dublin, in relation to the circumstances of his birth that took place in April 2015.

It was alleged that there had been a failure to properly manage the pregnancy and labour of Mrs Feely and a failure to properly monitor the baby’s foetal heart rate. Additionally it was alleged there had been a failure to identify and treat the symptoms or signs of foetal distress and a failure to opt for a caesarean section in the circumstance of elevated maternal temperature and pathological CTG trace.

The NMH accepted that there had been a breach of duty in relation to the claims admitting that a foetal blood sample should have been opted for in relation to Mrs Feely’s care between 20.55 hours and 21.10 hours and further thought should have been given at 21.10 or shortly thereafter to deliver the infant using a caesarean section.

The letter to the Feelys, which was read to the court, was from the Master of the NMH, Professor Shane Higgins.

It said: “On behalf of the National Maternity Hospital I wish to sincerely apologise for the shortcomings in care during Mrs Feely’s labour and delivery in April 2015 and to Fionn for his devastating injuries. We do not underestimate how difficult and traumatic it has been for you and your family and acknowledge the challenges that you have faced on a daily basis since that time and we are truly sorry.”

Stephen and Deirdre Feely, Fionn’s parents, said fighting for justice for their first-born has changed them. In a statement outside the Four Court Fionn’s father Stephen said that over the previous six years they have experienced much sadness, worry and grief on a daily basis, but their son is “much more than his diagnosis.”

He said: “Like many people anticipating the birth of their first child, our hopes and dreams were wrapped up in one little person. “Those dreams were shattered, and it is difficult to describe the devastation we experienced. The joy of holding our first-born child in our arms was taken from us. It was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives, it became our worst.”

“We are his world, and he is ours. “Our hope now is that we finally have the opportunity to enjoy just being parents to Fionn, as opposed to primarily being his carers and then we will also have a chance to give him absolutely everything he needs and deserves to get the most out of his life. There has been no respite from our grief, no respite from our daily struggles and worries, no respite from the what-ifs and whys and the thoughts of what could have been.”

He added: “No amount can account for what Fionn has lost or ever bring back the child that Fionn should have been, but this money will go towards giving him a future he can look forward to and thrive in.”

As he was approving the birth injury compensation settlement, Judge Justice Paul Coffey praised the Feelys for the remarkable job that they have done as parents to Fionn.


€7.5m Medical Negligence Settlement for Boy (11) Following Brain Tumour Diagnosis Delay

A€7.5m medical negligence compensation settlement has been approved at the High Court for an 11-year-old boy who, if it was alleged, experienced a delay in diagnosing a brain tumour when he was just two years old at the time of the incident.

The settlement was without liability being admitted. 

Through his father, the young boy (who cannot be named by order of the court) took legal action against Children’s Health Ireland, the administrator of the Temple Street hospital.

Counsel for the boy Dr John O’Mahony SC, with Cian O’Mahony BL, informed the court that when the child was taken to the hospital experiencing left side problems there appeared to be “three missed opportunities” to diagnose the brain tumour as the cause. 

Due to this, it was claimed, the tumour continued to increase in size and when it was eventually identified following an MRI scan in March 2013 the it (the tumour) was now of a considerable size. Due to this the young boy underwent an emergency surgical procedure followed by a course of chemotherapy. He now suffers from a weakness down the left hand side of his body and experiences some vision issues. 

The Judge was informed how, when the boy was just two years old, he was experiencing a weakness in his left side limbs. His family brought him to his GP for further investigation and from here he was referred to Temple Street Children’s hospital. 

When he attended his subsequent appointment at the hospital, on July 31 2012, his parents informed physicians that he was regularly falling and it was a cause of some concern to them. A decision was then made to see how this condition progressed over the following 12 months. 

Within six months, during January 2013, the boy’s parents reported that they had noticed reduced movements on the left hand side of his body. Following this an MRI scan was arranged for a couple of months later in May. However, on March 8 his parents became concerned when they saw their son drooling from his mouth and dragging his left foot. His parents brought him. They returned to the hospital but were informed that the MRI scan was not due to take place until May that year. 

Due to their increasing worries the parents contacted the hospital again three days later and were advised to attend the hospital at once. An MRI scan was conducted on March 14, 2013. The results of this indicated that there was a brain tumour present and this was dealt with during two subsequents surgical procedures and a course of chemotherapy.

Counsel said he was a happy boy who is adored by his parents and spoiled with love.

The legal action alleged that the hospital failed to carry out an appropriate review of the condition or conduct a full neurological examination on the boy when he was brought to the hospital on July 31, 2012. Additionally it was alleged that the parents were advised the boy’s issues in dragging his left foot were a result of one leg being longer than the other. 

Finally it was claimed that the hospital had not arranged  an MRI scan in July 2012. Due to this, the court was told, it was believed that the ideal time for effective surgery was missed. 

The defendants denied all of the claims that were made in the medical negligence compensation action. The argument put forward by the hospital, to the boy’s parents, was that as it was a slow growing tumour the delay in surgery being conducted would not have had a huge impact.

As he was giving his approval for the child compensation settlement, Justice Kevin Cross said it was a very good one and he wished the boy and his family all the best for the future.


Alleged Delayed Diagnosis or Treatment of Cancer make up 25% of Negligence Claims against GPs in Ireland

A new report produced by the Medical Protection Society (MPS) has revealed that 25% of clinical negligence claims submitted against Irish General Practitioners during the time period from 2017 to 2020 involved an alleged delay in the diagnosis or treatment of cancer.

Other statistics revealed in the the study that reviewed more than 2,000 GP cases for its report, including claims, complaints, regulatory cases and requests for a wide range of legal and professional advice included that almost 50% of these claims were linked to female cancers.

In addition to this almost half of the claims were connected to breast cancer, cervical cancer and endometrial cancer. Prostate cancer was second most common cancer identified in claims, followed by lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and malignant melanoma.

The age of patients ranged from 22 to 74 years with 66pc aged 50 or less.

The report stated that: “Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer involved in the claims reviewed. Aside from delayed cancer diagnosis, more than 15pc of GP claims related to alleged medication or prescribing errors. And around 10pc involved allegations arising from procedures or minor surgery.”

The report highlighted contributory factors such as inadequate or poor record-keeping, misinterpretation of test results, failure to refer a patient to a specialist earlier or follow up and investigate.

MPS medical director Dr Rob Henry said: “Claims for compensation in general practice can lead to large financial settlements. The value of the settled claim may include compensation for care and loss of earnings, in addition to an award for the damage that resulted from a breach of duty. The value of each claim varies enormously with our highest GP total case payment – claimant damages, costs and legal costs – being in excess of €8m.

It went one: “The decision to take legal action is influenced not only by the original injury, but also by the patient’s perception of the process, how information was provided and whether or how an explanation and an apology were given. We understand GPs work in complex and pressured environments, and we know that experiencing a medicolegal case can be concerning and stressful. At MPS we want to share our knowledge, experience and expertise in order to support members in their everyday clinical practice and reduce their medicolegal risk.

“We’ve studied over 2,000 cases in order to develop this collection of case studies, statistics and analysis and give GPs a view of the current claims environment. It includes common pitfalls and themes that result in a case and, importantly, key learning points to help GPs avoid the problems other have faced.”

The reports included finding and recommendations to say that GPs should pay closer attention to what their patient would consider to be a successful outcome in the aftermath of any treatment and understand their concerns and expectations.

It also said that the report discovered that patients just want an explanation and an apology in the unfortunate event of something going wrong.

HSE Settle Negligence Compensation Action with Family of Dead Woman for €68,000

The HSE has settled an alleged negligence compensation action with the family of a woman who passed away after suffering with a sepsis infection caused by peritonitis €68,000.

The woman, Rose Malley, had a history of pancreatitis and passed away at the age of 72.  In the compensation claim submitted her family alleged that her death was a result of a Peg feeding tube shifting after being inserted and leading to septic shock.

Yesterday at the High Court,  Justice Garrett Simons gave his approval for a proposed compensation settlement for the wrongful death of Rose Malley, the deceased mother-of-six from  St Patrick’s Avenue, Crossmolina, Co Mayo, at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, Dublin, on March 19, 2015.

In the compensation settlement the entire €35,000 solatium, the statutory payment under the Civil Liability Act – €8,402 in special damages, is included along with other legal costs.

Acting on behalf of Rose O’Malley’s daughter, Catherine, Alistair Rutherdale BL told the court that it was being alleged that there was negligence in relation to the placing, monitoring and application of a Peg tube leading to the tragic death of Mrs O’Malley.

Mrs O’Malley had a history of suffering with cholecystitis, inflammation of the gallbladder, and was scheduled to have a procedure to address this in October 2012 at Mayo General Hospital. The court was told that a decision to leave gallstones in place created the potential for more issues such as acute pancreatitis.

Mr Rutherdale informed the judge that Mrs O’Malley attended the Blanchardstown hospital on December 27, 2014, with symptoms including vomiting and her family were of the belief that it was a mistake to send her home on December 30.

She was taken back to the hospital on on January 5 when it was discovered that she was suffering with with pancreatitis and pneumobilia. Mr Rutherford told the court that Mrs O’Malley had been making a slow recovery from this ailment when a Peg feeding tube was place, to assist with her rehab, on March 13, 2015. Sadly, it appears that that tube had shifted and peritonitis occurred that lead to Mrs O’Malley’s death.

A €68,000 settlement was approved in the case and, in a statement made public afterwards, the family confirmed that the submitted the legal action “to highlight the deficiencies” in their mother’s care and because they did not want to see other patients suffer in the same way.

‘Catalogue of Errors’ During Treatment Leads to €325,000 Compensation Settlement for Family of Dead Donegal Woman

The relatives of a 54-year-old Donegal woman who passed away following what was referred to as a “catalogue of errors” in the treatment provided to her have plead with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to put in place the recommendations made during a serious incident review into her passing.

The court was informed that Bridie Kelly from Drumbeigh, Mountcharles, had attended Letterkenny University Hospital on two separate occasions during 2018, but passed away following after a failure to correctly diagnose and treat a blood clot in her veins.

Following her death it was discovered that the CT scan that Ms Kelly was undergoing was unnecessary and was actually intended for a different patient.

The High Court was informed that Ms Kelly was brought to the emergency department on February 27 2018 as she was suffering with intense pain and swelling in her leg. After being tended to she was sent home regardless of the fact that the D-Dimer test, which is used to diagnose clots, indicated that Mrs Kelly was displaying two-and-a-half times above normal levels. In addition to this there was a failure to conduct an ultrasound scan or prescribe anticoagulants.

Ms Kelly returned to hospital on April 22 where theD-Dimer test was conducted again, this this time indicating that she had a level ten times the upper limit of normal. The court was informed that this condition could only have been caused by a deep vein thrombosis, which would have improved with the correct course of treatment.

Following an ultrasound two days later she was finally diagnosed. However there was a mistake in the dosage of the drugs prescribed and she not given enough. Mrs Kelly’s legal counsel informed the High Court she was basically untreated for a period of 48 hours. Sadly, on April 30 Ms Kelly suffered a massive clot on her lung and passed away.

Barrister Doireann O’Mahony informed the High Court that Mrs Kelly’s family was very angry at the way in which she was “neglected and deprived of life-saving treatment”.

A serious incident review that was conducted during 2019 by the Saolta University Healthcare group concluded there were shortcomings in the treatment of Ms Kelly, including the consideration of possible diagnoses and a failure to carry out ultrasound tests. In addition to this it was discovered that Ms Kelly had died while having a CT scan of her brain, which had been intended for another patient of the same name.

The High Court approved a wrongful death compensation settlement in the case against the HSE for €325,000.

Letterkenny Hospital apologised to the family for the shortcomings in clinical treatment and the events that took place in the lead up to Ms Kelly’s death.

Following the approval of the compensation settlement, family solicitor Ciaran Tansey commented that the family experienced a catalogue of mistakes when Mrs Kelly was being treated for a normally treatable condition. He added that Ms Kelly’s condition could have been dealt with using a readily available anticoagulant.


High Court Birth Injury Settlement of €22.5m for Young Boy

An eight-year-old boy been awarded €22.5m brain injury compensation in relation the suffering he experienced when the fact that he had contracted a meningitis infection, in the days after his birth, was missed by those attending to him.

At the High Court an apology was read out in court by Cork University Maternity Hospital to the boy in question, Calum Spillane and his family. The apology expressed regret in relation to “the delay in diagnosing Calum’s infection and the injuries he suffered.”

It went on: “We can only express our sincere regret to you and your family for what has happened and wish you both and your two boys Calum and Tom the very best for the future.

“CUMH have learned important lessons from your experience and we continue to educate out staff regarding the importance of optimal communication and escalation across all our multidisciplinary team.”

Representing Calum in court, Dr John O’Mahony SC said that his (Calum’s) speech is “enormously limited” due to his dyskinetic cerebral palsy. He is also confined to his wheelchair and needs full- time care. He said: “He was born in good condition and a bad infection developed. The hospital were not alert when they should have been, Calum developed meningitis and there were devastating personal sequelae for him and for the rest of his life.”

Calum was born on August 1 2012 and it was claimed that, following his delivery, there was a delay diagnosing and treating his Group B streptococcal infection. This delay was such that the infection evolved to the extent that he suffered with meningitis and a significant brain injury. It was also claimed that there was negligence as no one saw to it that the proper assessment of the baby was carried out. This was despite the fact that the midwives had recorded their concerns for the baby on three times on the afternoon/evening of August 2.

Following mediation talks in the birth negligence legal action liability was admitted and the settlement was agreed. The settlement is one of the highest before the High Court for a person who has suffered extensive brain damage at birth.

Calum’s mother Linda, speaking to the court after the approval of the settlement, said that she and her family hope their son will now receive the treatment he requires. She said: “We want him now to have a team working with him and to have one to one for speech and other therapies. He always has a big smile on his face and he is very sociable.”

Mr Justice Kevin Cross, as he was approving the settlement, said he felt it was a satisfactory settlement and should not be regarded as  a “bonus” by anybody. This settlement is to give assistance and treatment to Calum for the rest. he concluded by wishing the family well and commended the parents for the support that they have provided so far.


Coombe Maternity Hospital to Pay €35,000 Birth Injury Compensation to Parents in Wrongful Death Case

The Coombe Maternity Hospital has been directed to pay a wrongful death compensation payment of €35,000 by the High Action to the parents of an infant boy, who passed away hours after he his delivery.

Representing the family in court, Richard Kean SC appearing with solicitor Caoimhe Haughey for the plaintiffs, informed the judge that this case was caused by the untimely and “very tragic” death of baby Rory.

Rory Jason Sweeney Butler died on November 19 2015 at the Coombe Maternity Hospital. His parent, Assumpta Sweeney and Jason Butler, alleged that this happened due to medical negligence compensation and submitted a birth death compensation action against the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital. The claim stated that the hospital had acted in a negligent manner and that they suffered from nervous shock for a number of months due to their son’s wrongful death in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit .

Liability in the case was accepted by the defendant .

At the High Court approval was given for the statutory compensation award by Justice Robert Eager, referred to as the solatium for distress for the parents and siblings of the child.  The Judge was advised that other family members had waived any entitlement to any payment out of the award.

In additional to this the Court was also told that there are due to be more, separate, legal proceedings taken in relation the the circumstances of Rory’s tragic passing.

The Coombe Hospital has previously been order by the Courts to pay compensations in relation to issues that were experienced during the birth of a child. In 2013 the maternity  hospital was found responsible in the case of a dyskinetic cerebral palsy medical negligence compensation claim which was submitted by the parents of a then 10-year-old boy who was born suffering from near total acute hypoxic ischaemia. A subsequent investigation into the claim revealed that dyskinetic cerebral palsy was caused due to medical negligence.

Dara Brennan, who sustained a facial injury during his delivery at the Coombe Hospital on November 12, 2009  was awarded €65,000 medical negligence compensation and Eoin McCallig from Dunkineely in Co Donegal and his parents was awarded €15m in relation to the injuries he sustained his birth when he was deprived of oxygen at birth.


November Date Set for Second Lead Action of Approximately 100 Swine Flu Vaccine Compensation

The High Court has revealed that the second lead action of about 100 cases in relation to swine flu vaccine that was created during the pandemic of 2009 and 2010 has been provisionally fixed for November.

15-year-old Benjamin Blackwell submitted a compensation claim against against the Minister for Health, the HSE and Glaxosmithkline Biologicals SA (GSK), manufacturer of Pandemrix in relation to the side effects he suffers from after being administered the vaccine in 2010 including narcolepsy, a sleep disorder, and cataplexy associated muscle weakness.

it is estimated that the hearing will last for at least 16 weeks. it is the second ever Pandemrix compensation case to come before the court. The legal action will be presented with evidence and testimony from a range of expert and other witnesses.

The original legal action related to compensation for suffering brought on by the Pandemrix vaccine, was pursued by 26-year-old Aoife Bennett. This action was settled in November 2019 after a five week hearing on confidential terms for an undisclosed sum and with no admission of liability. Ms Bennett’s legal representatives were seeking around €6m compensation in relation to Ms Bennett’s suffering.

Ms Bennett was administered with the Pandemrix vaccine in school in December 2009 as part of the State campaign to tackle the the swine flu pandemic. She claims that she suffers from narcolepsy and cataplexy due to the vaccine she was given.

A hearing date of November 3 2020 was set on Wednesday by Justice Michael McGrath for the Blackwell legal action. The judge agreed to fix that provisionally as the hearing date but stressed the hearing going ahead is contingent on the situation in November in relation to Covid-19 and on finding a venue large enough to host the personnel involved in the hearing.

In the Four Courts there is no room available big enough to house the people involved in line with the current Covid-19 guidelines. It is hoped that attempts to address this will bear fruit but, in the meantime an appropriate alternative venue will be sought.

The judge said an update will be provided in September.

Cerebral Palsy Negligence Settlement of €6.5m for Disabled Teenager

19-year-old Ross McNally has had his cerebral palsy negligence compensation claim settled for €6.5m following weeks of mediation talks. The claim was made in relation to injuries that arose from complications experienced during his delivery at the Rotunda Hospital on March 8, 2001.

The settlement agreed incorporates €500,000 linked to past care and several thousand euro is to be dedicated to assisted technology that will give Mr McNally more freedom. Judge Justice Kevin Cross gave his approval for the €6.5m settlement figure and congratulated both sets of legal teams on successful mediation talks.

The court was advised by Siun Leonowicz BL, instructed by solicitor Tim O’Hanrahan, that this settlement for Ross McNally was the result of weeks of mediation talks. Before the beginning of the mediation talks liability in the case had been admitted.

Ms Leonowicz this week told the court that Mr McNally been inflicted with a hypoxic ischaemic injury at the time of his birth and the compensation claim was being vade via his mother Samantha McNally against the Rotunda Hospital as they were responsible for her (Samantha’s) care.

On March 7 2001, due to the the onset of labour and CTG tracing, Ms McNally was taken to the Rotunda Hospital. The next morning, March 8, a review indicated that the foetal heart-rate pattern on the CTG was disimproving.

The court was advised that the Syntocinon treatment, which leads to the contraction of the muscles of the womb, was initiated at 5.30am and slowly increased, despite the worsening condition of foetal heart rate on the CTG tracing. It was additionally alleged that labour was allowed to progress at 8.15am despite the pathological appearance of the CTG. At 9.20am a decision was made to deliver the baby and an emergency caesarean section was carried out at 9.50am. The baby boy was in a cyanosed condition.

It was claimed by the plaintiff that that there was a failure to recognise atypical deceleration on CTG tracing and that it was pathological. In addition to this it was alleged that appropriate management of the the second stage of labour was absent and the baby’s delivery was delayed by 65 minutes.

Ms McNally submitted an affidavit to the High Court, stating that she was happy with the settlement.

Nine-year-old Girl Awarded €12m Settlement in Failure to Act Case Against the HSE

Earlier today Justice Cross gave his approval for a a €12m failure to act compensation settlement at the High Court in favour of a nine-year-old girl who suffers from brain damage due to the fact that she was not admitted when she first attended hospital in relation to a case of bacterial meningitis.

The hospital negligence legal action was submitted against the Health Service Executive (HSE) by Cabrini Fallon on behalf of her daughter Robyn Kilgallon as a result of the medical attention she was given at Sligo General Hospital on February 1, 2011, when she was just 10 months old.

The court was informed that Robyn’s parents took her to the hospital following a referral from their family doctor was felt that was may be suffering from a viral infection. Even though Robyn was displaying symptoms including a high temperature and vomiting, had little control of her faculties and had eyes rolling in the back of her head, she was allowed to go home by a junior doctor as, her parents were advised, the results of the blood tests that they carried out on Robyn’s had no indication of any significant concerns.

Sadly, as Robyn’s condition did not improve and she was taken back to the hospital on the morning of February 2. By this time she was quite sick, not responding and had suffered a seizure. Due to this was was admitted to an intensive care unit where she was then incubated. A transfer to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast was arranged as the physicians in SLigo General Hospital deemed her condition to be of a serious enough nature to need specialist treatment.

Due to the alleged delay in the treatment of Robyn’s condition she now experiences significant development delay , walking and a difficulty communicating with others.

The medical negligence compensation claim stated that the HSE had been negligent in not admitting Robyn for immediate treatment when she first presented to the hospital with a suspected bacterial infection. Along with this it was alleged that Robyn, of Caltragh Road, Sligo now suffers from brain damage as a result of this failure to admit her.

The Judge was informed that Robyn’s mother and her father, Declan Kilgallon, have plans to hoping to move to a more suitable house that allows for Robyn to move about more easily due to her physical and mental restrictions. Donnacha Anhold, solicitor for the Kilgallon family, read out a statement that said Robyn was in a 100% perfect physical condition when she first presented to Sligo General Hospital. He went on to say that the family was grateful that the HSE apologized to them last week and were hoping that there would be some further communication from the organization in future to detail how they plan on avoiding something like this happening in the future.

The HSE accepted liability in the action and Judge Justice Cross said he was happy to allow approval for the settlement in the failure to act compensation claim.


Health Service Executive Sued by 59-Year-Old Woman in Relation to BreastCheck Misdiagnosis

A mother of two has taken a BreastCheck misdiagnosis compensation claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Siobhan Freeney has claimed that the mammogram she had during June 2015 was not interpreted properly. Shortly afterwards the test she was sent a letter from the BreastCheck service to inform her that the mammogram results had come back negative for cancer. Approximately six months later Ms Freeney was diagnosed with cancer in her right breast and she is now taking a case claiming that the original mammogram should have returned a diagnosis of cancer which would have led to additional assessments being arranged.

Ms Freeney’s legal counsel Jeremy Maher SC informed the Judge that due to this delay in her diagnosis, Ms Freeney says that they chance todiscovert the cancer at an early stage was missed. Mr Maher SC told the court that they are filing the claim due to the alleged delay in the diagnosis of Ms Freeney’s breast cancer. The breast cancer was not finally diagnosed until December 2015.

It was also claimed that Ms Freeney was not referred for additional assessment after the tests that were completed at the mobile clinic in Gorey. They said that a triple assessment including a clinical assessment mammogram and ultrasound would have been conducted and identified the cancer if this had taken place.

The claim that was submitted alleged that there was a failure to failure to advise, treat and care for her in a proper skillful, diligent and careful fashion along with a failure to use reasonable care skill and judgment when examining her mammogram on June 17, 2015. Finally it was claimed that there was an a failure to spot features in her mammogram of her right breast taken that June may have been cancer.

All the claims are refuted by the HSE. Counsel for the defence said that the cancer would have been smaller and she would not have required radiotherapy and chemotherapy if the cancer has been discovered in the initial test. The court was told that their case was the mammogram taken in the mobile clinic was incorrectly reported as showing no signs of cancer. Experts for their side said that if Ms Freeney had been sent on for additional assessment the cancer would have been discovered.


Apology Issued by HSE for Man’s Death in 2011 Due to Medical Negligence

An apology has been made by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to the family of a man as a result of his death that occurred at St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny in 2011.

John Joseph Comerford was taken  to the hospital in Kilkenny during March 2011 for hernia repair surgery. Sadly, the High Court was informed, the 68-year-old passed away three days later in “very distressing circumstances”. An inquest into his death in 2014 returned a ruling that death was caused by medical misadventure.

The family said that Mr Comerford was taken back to the hospital two days following his hernia surgery with shortness of breath, abdominal pain and low blood pressure. A CT scan indicated that there was fluid in his abdominal wall and after the site of the operation was opened again, faecal smelling fluid was drained away from the area in question. When he was taken to the intensive care unit, he suffered two cardiac arrests and died away on 21 March 2011. Due to his death, Mr Comerford’s family kicked off a medical malpractice trial against the HSE. The HSE admitted liability and the case was then settled for an undisclosed sum.

The HSE apology on behalf of St Luke’s General Hospital was read aloud in court. it said: “We apologise to Mrs Comerford and to her children and extended family for the events leading to the death of Mr John Joseph Comerford in the 21st of March 2011. We do not underestimate the distress and sadness caused to Mrs Comerford and her children by the loss of their husband and father. We offer our sincere condolences”.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Comerford’s daughter Karen Brown said she is happy the case has finished but is “disgusted” that it has taken this so long. She remarked: “It feels very sad that it’s taken this long to happen. It’s sad my kids have missed out on their granddad. They adored him for the little time they knew him”.

Mr Comerford’s son, David, also issued a statement following the case and described his father someone who enjoyed gardening who came to Ireland from the UK to retire in the late 1990s. He said his dad was enjoyed the allotments and continued working as a builder when he came here. He and his sister said their mother, who is now in her late 70s and was not present in court on the day, had to return to live in the UK since her husband’s death to be nearer to her children. He remarked said: “You mourn your loved ones and it never goes away, but this just brings it to the surface time and time again. You think of him every day.”

14-year-old Brain-damaged Boy Award Final €23m Payout by the Health Service Executive

A last once-off payment of €20m had been agreed in a birth complication compensation settlement between and Health Service Executive (HSE) and a 14-year-old boy who, it is claimed, sustained brain damage at the time of his birth in a Cork hospital.

The boy, Lee Gibson of Carrigaline, Co Cork, suffers with cerebral palsy, cannot speak and has to move about in a wheelchair. It brings to a record €23m the total paid out to the young boy and the compensation settlement against the HSE is the highest so far in the State for this type of compensation action.

In the legal action submitted it was claimed that Lee suffered a range of injuries to his brain due to a lack of oxygen and the effect of an untreated infection his mother was experiencing. It was also alleged that there was delay of somewhere between 91 and 106 minutes before delivery by emergency caesarean section once the decision to go ahead with one had been taken. There was also a claim that the incident was not treated as an emergency case and to give a candid explanation for what happened and why it occurred. The claims were not accepted but liability was later settled in the case.

As he was approving the final sum of compensation, President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly paid tribute to the teenager’s mother, Aileen Gibson saying: “Lee makes the best of a life that is possible because of the care of his mother, grandmother and other family support.”

In 2015, an interim settlement payment of €2m was approved for Lee and in 2017 an additional interim payment of €1m was transferred. On those occasions, liability was also settled in relation to case.

As she was speaking outside court, Ms Gibson said that the day was a bittersweet one. She stated: “I must say that today is bittersweet. All the money won’t change what has happened to Lee. We will have to live with that pain forever.”


Surgical Negligence Compensation of €10,000 made due to Patient of Mater Private Hospital

€10,000 against the Mater Private Hospital after a man ever had his operation as a critical piece of medical equipment went missing from the surgical team, despite having been placed under anaesthetic.

Judge John O’ Connor at the circuit court, was told how Peter Keegan (31) was due to have a surgical procedure on his right hip on 25 November 2016, in the Mater Private Hospital, Eccles St, Dublin 7. Keegan, with an address at Woodbine Park, Raheny, Dublin 5 was represented in court by Barrister Conor Kearney, appearing with Mark Tiernan, of Tiernan & Company solicitors. Kearney told Judge O’Connor that his client had been admitted to the hospital’s short stay procedure unit at 6.45am on the morning that the operation was due to take place.

He went on to say that his client had been given anaesthetic at 7.30am, before the procedure was due to place. It was during this, when the operation set of instruments had been initially opened, that is was discovered an irrigation extender was not with the rest of the instruments. it was claimed that the missing piece of equipment had been sent out to be fixed four weeks earlier. However, the missing piece had not been replaced and, when Mr Keegan came to from the anaesthetic at approximately 8.30am, he was advised that there had been a problem with his operation and it had not gone ahead.

he suffered some initial stress due to hearing this news and the team of nurses tending to him advised him of the mistake that had been made. Mr Keegan told the Court that he remained very drowsy when he had been sent home some time later and he had experienced stomach pain and nausea in the days after this.

The procedure was rescheduled for ten days later on 5 December. Mr Keegan told the court that he had been very concerned leading up to the new operation. He informed the judge that he had been quite  nervous about taking the anaesthetic again.

Judge O’Connor said that he believed there had been medical negligence on the side of the Mater Private Hospital in what he referred to as an ‘unfortunate incident’. He added that he felt Mr Keegan had been upset emotionally after the incident despite being fortunate that there had been no long-term consequences due to the mistake.

€10,000 Surgical negligence compensation damages against the Mater Private Hospital in relation to the case.

€60,000 Dental Negligence Settlement Agreed

A €60,000 dentist negligence compensation claim between a women and her former dentist for in the Circuit Civil Court following a treatment that she said left her afraid to smile.

After the treatment administered to Mrs Roisin Mimnagh, the Court was informed that she had been distraught to find that an incisor tooth had been filed away without her authorization and replaced with an amalgam or composite.

Mrs Mimnagh solicitor, Mr David McParland, told presiding Judge Jacqueline Linnane that his client was someone who was usually happy with her appearance. She had booked an appointment with Dr Anna O’Donovan, Griffith Avenue, Dublin, to have an incisor realigned. He told the Court: “To her horror she afterwards found that her tooth had been filed away and replaced with an amalgam or composite that was smaller and shorter and different from her original tooth”.

Dentist Dr O’Donovan, who was represented in court by Barrister Sarah Corcoran, informed the Judge that her client had submitted a full defence to Ms Mimnagh’s legal action. However they had admitted that written consent for the specific treatment for her tooth had not been received before the procedure. She added that the case before the court was not one of deciding liability but a matter of final assessment of damages.

Some remedial work was completed during 2013 following the initial treatment. Mr McParland said Ms Mimnagh was still wearing an appliance on her tooth. He added that a dental specialist felt that she would need additional realignment work.

Mr McPartland advised Judge Linnane that his client at first thought she was going to have some white filling applied to her tooth to make it look more straight. She was very upset when she later saw it had been filed away and an amalgam or composite replaced it. This left her scared to smile.

Judge Linnane reviewed the pleadings and told the Court that the latest expert report was over three years old. Due to this she said that she would be unable to assess damages as the reports were too old.

Due to this, Judge Linnane suggested some talks should be conducted to try and settle the case. Ms Corcoran advised her that Dr O’Donovan had always shown “a significant willingness” to participate in talks. Mr McParland came back to the Court shortly later to advise the Judge that the case had been settled and could be dismissed with an order for Ms Mimnagh’s legal expenses to be taxed in default of agreement.

Vaginal Mesh Compensation Claims in UK and US

Vaginal mesh is currently not being used due to suspension in the United Kingdom while in the United States over 100,000 people have submitted compensation claims due to injuries and illnesses that the believe arose from the use of vaginal mesh.

The ban in the UK is in place until the outcomes of an independent safety review are fully considered, a study that began after thousands of women reported harrowing complications following the use of vaginal mesh to treat them. Typical pain sustained by those with complications include chronic pain, soreness while having sex, pain during daily working duties and difficulty while walking. Soreness and injuries such as these happen due to vaginal mesh slicing organs or impacting tissue and causing permanent nerve damage.

In the UK, expert chemist Dr Chris DeArmitt, has helped approximately 9,000 women to settle their vaginal mesh compensation claims settled. DeArmitt, a leading medical expert in the UK has been called upon during court action against producers of vaginal mesh and said, during an interview with Sky News, that the use of the material is unsafe.

He said: “There are two main reasons why any plastics material expert will tell you just obviously that this is a bad material and I have never heard anyone who disagrees with me. I see an absolute disregard for proper testing. Testing is way less than you would see on a vacuum cleaner or a washing machine. It’s shocking. I’ve never seen anything like it in my career.”

There have been a number of case in relation to use if vaginal mesh in Ireland during recent years. This was especially so in 2017. A number of women began legal actions in this year as they had seen news reports in the United Kingdom in relation to pain and suffering that the use of vaginal mesh can cause.

The US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), made the sale of all mesh intended for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse illegal as a result of the many safety issues witnessed among the general public.

The UK’s National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE), however, has said that vaginal mesh will be a potential alternative form of treatment for women suffering from various injuries once the current ban is removed. A statement from NICE said “The benefits and risks of each type of treatment are laid out to ensure every woman is fully informed. Where the evidence is limited, this is also highlighted. There are a number of procedures recommended by NICE, including mesh procedures.”





Young Boy Awarded €10.5m Cerebral Palsy Compensation Due to Birth Injuries

12-year-old Samuel Forde , who took a Cerebral Palsy Compensation action against the Health Service Executive (HSE) as a result of the circumstances of his birth at Sligo General Hospital has settled his High Court action for a sum of €10.5million.

With an address at Glenview Park, Grange, Co Sligo, Samuel had taken the birth injury compensation action via his mother Deborah Forde. His legal representative, Des O’Neill SC, told the High Court that it was alleged there was a failure to promptly diagnose and act upon the baby’s condition, there was also failure to admit Mrs Forde to hospital on August 19, 2006 when her condition and that of the baby could overlooked more closely and acted upon appropriately and that the pregnancy was allowed to continue well past its due date resulting in the failure to deliver the baby when he should have been. All of these claims were denied by the legal team for the Health Service Executive.

Presiding judge Justice Kevin Cross was told how Mrs Forde had gone for a check up on August 15, 2006 which had shown that nothing was out of the ordinary at this point in time. However, two days later she attended the hospital as she thought she might have gone into labour. A CTG was then applied to monitor the baby’s heartbeat .

Mrs Forde returned to hospital again two days later but was told she could go home after a number of tests were completed. A midwife had contacted her to check in by phone in relation to the baby’s movement.  When less movement was recorded on August 20 she was told to return to hospital immediately. A CTG and checks were conducted once more and Samuel was born by cesarean section August 20,2006 and he had to be intubated.

Samuel, the High Court was told, has cerebral palsy which has completely impacted his existence and he will require medical attention for the rest of his life.

The Forde family, the judge was told, only initiated court proceedings after they sought legal advice a few years ago when Samuel’s medical card was taken away a few years ago.

Solicitor David O’Malley, acting for the Fordes family said that they just hoped for Samuel to have a life which is “as happy and as included as possible. Hopefully the financial settlement can bring him that stability. Mediation was a very effective mechanism to resolve this case”.

Justice Kevin Cross, in approving the settlement without admission of liability, said the Fordes had looked after their son “over and above” and he wished “the loving and protective family” the best for the future.

Autistic Teenager and Hospital Agree €7.25m Birth Injury Compensation Settlement

An autistic Teenager and the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) have agreed a €7.25m Birth Injury Compensation Settlement.

The award was made to a 13-year-old boy at the High Court due to the complications that took place occured during his birth at the National Maternity Hospital (NMH), Dublin on July 30, 2005.

Legal representatives for the the boy, Finn Phillips, who is on the autism spectrum, Jeremy Maher SC said that the their case was founded based on the protracted labour and difficult birth being the alleged cause of Finn’s autism. He added that this was a test case as this issue had never been determined by a court in Ireland, the UK “or anywhere”.

Finn, who took the legal action through his mother Lisa Marie Murphy, argued through his legal team that he is on the autism spectrum as a result of the complications which arose during his birth at the hospital. The National Maternity Hospital refuted all of these allegations.

Finn was given birth to through a ventouse delivery and it is alleged he was unnecessarily exposed to both asphyxia and trauma from the vacuum extraction. As a result of this, the Judge was informed he was allegedly unnecessarily exposed to their potential long term effects. The injuries he encountered it was alleged, included developmental delay and autism. It was claimed that there was an failure to manage Finn’s mother’s labour properly and an alleged failure to take action in appropriate time. Finally there was a claim made by the the legal team that Finn was pulled an unnecessary amount of times and he had been allegedly subjected to excessive tractions.

COmmenting on the award outside court, Finn’s mother Lisa Marie Murphy said: ” (her son) is a wonderful boy. He would have been a fantastic man if everything had gone according to plan. Now we can make strides to help him be the best man he can be,” she said. The settlement means as parents we don’t have to worry, Finn’s care is there. It means we can go privately for his care.”

Presiding Justice Kevin Cross was told that mediation talks had taken place last Monday and a settlement was agree to put before the court. Justice Cross said he was happy to hear it had been agreed. He wished Finn and his family all the best going forward.

Record Medical Negligence Award for Boy (9) who Sustained Brain Injury as an Infant

A €32 million highest ever medical negligence compensation award has been approved for a nine-year-old boy, Benjamin Gillick, who sustained permanent brain damage after medical staff made a delayed diagnosis of infection following surgery when he was just an infant.

It is the biggest ever settlement this kind to be approved in the Irish State. However, Benjamin’s parents, Miriam and Andrew Gillick, informed the court that they believed the money was not a sufficient amount for the rest of his life. They stated: “It leaves us with a shortfall that will be imposed on ourselves or our children, or possibly our grandchildren.”

When added to the interim settlement of €7.4m three years ago, tt brings to more than €32m the total amount of the compensation awarded.

Presiding Judge Justice Kevin Cross explained that only a portion of the money, under €500,000 was compensation for the catastrophic injuries inflicted on Benjamin and that the majority of the award is for the cost of Benjamin’s complex treatment, educational and accommodation needs for the rest of his life.

In giving his approval for a final settlement offer of €25m, he said: “When the headlines come to be written it should be noted that no one is getting a bonanza”.

Justice Cross said that Benjamin would only have been awarded approximately €450,000 in relation to general damages for the injuries he had sustained. The rest of the money to be made by the Children’s University Hospital at Temple Street to cover the costs of his future medical treatment.

The reason, according to the judge, that the figure was so high in this case was due to the fact that “thankfully he has a higher life expectancy and would have to be cared for long after his parents have departed”. The judge said it was very difficult to accurately calculate  what will happen in 60 years’ time.

The boy’s father, Andrew Gillick, outliend to the Court that his concern is in relation to the money being insufficient when compared to rates of return on investment in England, where the family now resides. He added that there has recently been a similar case decided in England in the order of €45m due to the costs of carers, therapies, aids and appliances, transport and education.

Benjamin was born prematurely, who is one of identical twin boys in Dublin. He is an identical twin and later had a procedure at 11 months at Temple Street Children’s Hospital to drain fluid on the brain. A shunt was placed to address this and the boy was later returned to hospital due to vomiting and feeling unwell.

The court was told  that a shunt infection is a known complication of the process and the cause of the negligence was that for up to three days this possibility was not looked into. The court was informed that Benjamin suffers with cerebral palsy, is quadriplegic, and cannot communicate verbally.


Convicted Criminal Awarded €20,000 Bike Hit and Run Compensation

Thomas O’Neill, a convicted burglar and recovering drug addict, has been awarded €20,000 bike hit and run compensation at the High Court

Mr O’Neill (47) is currently serving a jail sentence in related to aggravated for burglary. He was accused, in the High Court,  of fabricating the incident by legal counsel for the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), Joseph McGettigan SC.

Mr Mcgettigan put this to Mr O’Neill saying: “I am suggesting to you that for whatever reason, you have decided to concoct a case involving an untraced motorist, in order to get compensation, and you are here today with a story that just doesn’t add up. It is defying all credibility.”

Judge Michael Hanna, however, said he was of the opinion that the plaintiff was ‘not lying’ and was entitled to be awarded €20,000 in personal injury compensation.

Thomas O’Neill, who is currently serving an eight-year sentence for aggravated burglary, told the Judge that that the accident took place on June 18, 2014. He said that he had spent the day fishing with his son in Swords, and had been returning home on his bicycle to Balbriggan when he was knock to the ground. He stated: “The last thing I remember was feeling the impact and waking up in the ditch on the side of the road.”

Mr O’Neill told the judge that he had experienced a head injury, lost consciousness and as well as a number of cuts to his face and body. A passing taxi driver offered his assistance, which he refused, and he made his own way home by bus after he hid his bike in the ditch. He could not remember how his bike subsequently got back to his house. He also had no recollection of speaking to his GP or a nurse who treated him at Beaumont Hospital.

He did remember going to the Garda Station to make a statement. However, Sergeant Brendan O’Connor informed the Court that Mr O’Neill had been ‘under the influence of an intoxicant’, when he attended the Garda Station. They advised him to return later to make the statement but this never took place.

Mr McGettigan said to Mr O’Neill at the High Court: “I am suggesting to you that, whatever happened to you that day, you were not involved in a hit-and-run accident, and you decided to bring proceedings against the bureau without going through any normal channels. You never reported this case to the gardaí.”

Replying to this Mr O’Neill said: “I did report it to the guards.”

The Judge was made aware of Mr O’Neill’s previous 20 convictions and he (the Judge) told the Court that these previous convictions did not mean  a person could not seek compensation for injuries in an accident.

Judge Hanna said: ‘My impression of the plaintiff was that he was not lying, and I am satisfied that he suffered the injuries he had in the circumstances of which he has complained.’

Medical Negligence Compensation of €63,000 Award to Woman Left with Forehead Scar due to Post Op Negligence

€63,000 medical negligence compensation has been awarded to 58-year-old Concepta Anderson at the High Court after she suffered an accident during her post operative care at St James’s Hospital in Dublin following a procedure to remove of a heart pacemaker.

Ms Anderson, from Sooey, Co Sligo, began the legal action against the hospital after she suffered an episode of syncope (heart stoppage leading to a blackout) and fell to the ground when she was in a hospital toilet on May 18th, 2014.

The accident happened when when she was going through a recovery period after a procedure to take out her permanent pacemaker. Ms Anderson was waiting for her new pacemaker to be placed. She sustained a head injury and has a permanent cut on her head.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr said, in his reserved judgment, that prior to having a pacemaker inserted  Ms Anderson had a known history of falls and syncope and was a fall risk after the removal of her pacemaker.

However, the Judge said that there was negligence on behalf of her consultant cardiologist in not making sure that clear directions were provided to nursing staff that Ms Anderson was a fall risk and therefore should be told to remain in her bed and only permitted to walk about with proper assistance.

Due to that negligence Ms Anderson was not told to stay in bed and was allowed move freely within the range of her telemetry monitor. The judge said that this placed her in serious danger.

He added that the claimant was lucky, when she did experience the syncope episode, that she was in the toilet. He did not accept the additional claims of negligence in relation to a decision not to insert a temporary wire after the removal of the pacemaker and before the replacement device was inserted. Ms Anderson sustained a moderate head injury as a result of the fall, he added.

The Judge went to say that he believed that Ms Anderson is self conscious in relation to her forehead wound which, while not ugly, was permanent. He awarded her medical negligence compensation of €63,112.

Niece of 89-year-old who Allegedly Died Due to Bacterial Infection Awarded Majority of €28,000 Distress for Wrongful Death Trauma Compensation

The majority of a €28,000 distress for trauma due to wrongful death compensation payment is being issued to the niece of an 89-year-old woman who died due to a bacterial infection in 2009.

Judge Justice Garrett Simons gave a decision that, once €7,890 for funeral expenses are paid, the niece should get the rest of the compensation awarded.

The niece took a wrongful death compensation claim against the nursing home where her aunt had been residing, and also a Dublin hospital where she was treated just before she passed away. The overall total of the claim being €33,290.

It was claimed that her aunt died due to a bacterial infection which causes diarrhoea and colitis. The coroner recorded the official cause of death as due to “health care-acquired” clostridium difficile infection.

Before her untimely passing, her aunt was living in a nursing home up until a month before her death. In October 2009, she was admitted to a Dublin hospital for some medical treatment. She returned to the nursing home in early November before being readmitted to the hospital on November 23 just before she passed away lsome hours later.

Her niece took the wrongful death trauma compensation action due to severe mental distress she experienced due to the death of her aunt. The defendants refuted these claims.

A personal injury compensation settlement offer of €28,000 was offered and  accepted in 2015 and the High Court was then asked to rule on whether the offer was fair. However, as the deceased woman’s sister passed away since the offer was made, in August 2016, the court also had to decide whether the compensation settlement should all go to the niece or to the aunt’s sister. This was because, as a surviving dependent at the time the woman passed away, the sister was legally entitled to a share of her sister’s estate.

Mr Justice Simons said that he was of the opinion that the best course of action in this instance would be to direct the full amount of compensation to be paid to the niece as sole surviving statutory dependent. He said that the €28,000 settlement was fair and after the €7,890 funeral costs have been paid out, the remainder of the wrongful death related trauma compensation should go to the niece.

Family of Woman Who Died in Childbirth Awarded €650,000 Birth Negligence Compensation

A High Court birth negligence compensation action in relation to nervous shock due to death in childbirth has been settled for €650,000 in favour of the husband and son of a woman who died shortly after having an emergency caesarean section at the National Maternity Hospital (NMH).

Sasha Louise Gayer, legal representative for the Hylands, informed the High Court that the family were content with the settlement but were too sad to be present in court for the compensation approval hearing.

The official inquest into Ms Hyland’s death gave a verdict of death due to medical misadventure. Ms Hyland was left waiting almost 40 minutes for a blood transfusion after she began bleeding  heavily during the emergency birth.

Dublin coroner Dr Brian Farrell said in his ruling that the cause of death was cardiac arrest due to severe post-partum haemorrhage. However, Dr Farrell could not confirm that the delay in Mrs Hyland receiving blood was a “definite” factor in her death.

In addition to this, the inquest was also told that a labelling mistake in the laboratory led to a 37-minute delay in Mrs Hyland being administered the blood transfusion. Another was that no emergency supply units of O-negative, the universal blood type, were available in operating theatres at the hospital when the incident occurred. Measures were quickly put in place to address this and a request for blood was submitted just after midnight with the blood transfusion being carried out 40 minutes later.

Nora Hyland was 31 at the time of her death. Originally from Malaysia, she died on the operating table at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin, on February 13, 2012, just three hours after having an emergency caesarean section during the delivery of her son Frederick. The hospital did not admit liability as part of the compensation settlement and refutes the claims that were made during the hearing.

Nora’s husband, had taken the legal action against the National Maternity Hospital for nervous shock in relation to the traumatic circumstances of his wife’s passing.

€300,000 Medical Negligence Compensation Awarded to Family of Woman Who Died Following Hernia Operation

The High Court yesterday saw a private medical clinic issue an apology for the failures in the care for a 52-year old woman who died due to sepsis after contracting a rare infection in the aftermath of a hernia operation. This was following the award of €300,000 medical negligence compensation to the family of the woman.

The woman, Ms Susan McGee, was a mother of two at the time of her death. She passed away just 11 days after the hernia operation at the Hermitage Clinic in Dublin on July 24, 2013. Ms McGee had developed a rare Clostridium Difficile infection in her bowel following hernia operation. At the inquest into her death, a verdict of medical misadventure was returned.

Ms McGee’s daughter, Melissa Barry, spoke before the court saying that the death of her mother had a massive effect on her family. She said: “Our mother is missed every day by her entire family and a large circle of friends. We owed it to our amazing mam to seek answers and justice. We hope she can now rest in peace while we can rebuild the rest of our lives.”

Ms Barry added: “The Hermitage Medical Clinic has reassured us new procedures are in place for the handover of patients and we hope lessons have been learned. Patients need to be assured that details of their medical condition and care plan are properly communicated  if they are being put in to the hands of a different medical professional. Hospital staff must also listen to and act on the concerns of a patient’s family.”

The medical negligence compensation case against the Hermitage and consultant surgeons Arnold Hill and Colm Power was taken by Melissa Barry, Grange Rise, Stamullen, Co Meath and her brother John McGee , Bretton Woods, Skerries Road, Rush , Co Dublin in relation to the  treatment their mother received at clinic in 2013.

The High Court was informed that the defendants admitted liability after McGee suffered complications in the aftermath of hernia surgery in July 2013. Ms McGee’s surgeon was on annual leave when she was taken back into the clinic after becoming ill. The court was advised that another doctor was not available to administer care to her as he was on duty in a separate hospital and a third doctor was not told about Ms McGee’s condition. Sadly, after some attempted emergency surgery, she died on 22 July 2013.

Mr Justice Robert Eagar, in approving the medical negligence compensation settlement, expressed his condolences to the McGee family.

High Court Rules that HIV Victim’s Daughter may be Awarded Compensation

The decision of the Hepatitis C compensation tribunal to prevent the daughter of a man who died from HIV infection due to contaminated blood products from seeking a medical negligence compensation award for psychological suffering has been overturned at the High Court.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton said it was hard to accept that the tribunal made an award to the man’s wife in 2009 in connection to what was termed to as the “horrific” circumstances of the man’s death and then not make a similar ruling in relation to his daughter who went through the same experience. Judge Barton ruled that the claim should be sent back to the tribunal “for assessment and award”.

The daughter, who is now 44 years old, was in her teens when her father passed away. She had appealed to the court against the Minister for Health and Children, with the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal as a notice party, over the decision made by the tribunal in February 2015 not to allow her submit a medical negligence compensation claim. Her father was one of a group of over 100 people suffering from haemophilia who was given a blood transfusions that was contaminated. As a result of this he contracted HIV and died from issues he experienced from the disease in 1989 when he as just 40 years olds.

The tribunal approved a medical negligence compensation payment to the man’s wife in 2009 in relation to the trauma she experienced leading up to her husband’s death. The Hepatitis C tribunal had said that the death of the man in question was “one of the worst cases” before it.

Mr Justice Barton said that the man’s daughter had been seriously depressed and was admitted to hospital in 2006 so her illness could be treated. However she still suffers from it today. The Judge said he accepted the daughter’s testimony in relation to the psychological affects that the circumstances of her father’s death had on her.

Justice Barton sent the issue back to the tribunal “for assessment and award”.

State Claims Agency Reveals Childbirth Related Cases Make Up 50% of Medical Negligence Payouts

Maternity-related medical negligence cases represent over 50% of the total payouts made by the State according to figures detailed on Friday at a conference on patient safety organised by the State Claims Agency (SCA).

This is in spite of the fact that maternity services account for just 3% of the Health Service Executive (HSE) budget. In tandem with this, the most recent figures available show that compensation settlements and awards for maternity negligence have also risen by about 80%.

Dr Peter McKenna, Clinical Director of the HSE’s National Women and Infant Health Programme, referred to preventable brain damage in normally formed infants is the “single biggest risk” in the HSE stating that these are “the most egregious insult the heath service can cause to a service user”.

Dr McKenna claimed that, by investing a small percentage (5%) of the monies that are paid out in compensation the HSE could reduce these preventable incidents by up to 50%. This claim is particularly significant as, in 2014, the State made compensation payments totalling €58m in compensation for maternity negligence cases. Additionally , Dr McKenna revealed that this represented 54% of the totalical negligence payouts by the State in 2014.

“This is massive for a part of the health service that accounts for 3 per cent of total expenditure,” he said, pointing out that just €500 million of the HSE’s €15 billion budget goes on maternity services.

Dr McKenna told the conference: “In the past, six, seven, eight million might have been a big settlement. Now the figure is running at €15 million. The number of cases hasn’t changed but the payout amount has. I don’t think that one cent of what the parents get will compensate them for having a child that does not live up to their expectations,” Dr McKenna said. “If you think I am complaining about the size of the payouts, I’m not.”

Mother has Whooping Cough Death Compensation Settlement of €100k Approved

A compensation settlement of €100,000 has been given approval in the High Court in relation to a medical negligence claim made by a mother whose two-month-old son died two weeks after she took him to hospital with a serious cough.

The family’s legal representative Dr John O’Mahony informed the High Court that a diagnosis of bronchiolitis was returned Cork University Hospital on baby Romi Betak when the baby was really suffering from a case of the whooping cough.

The whooping cough compensation case had been taken by Romi’s mother, Maria Mullins (33), of Presentation Road, Gurranabraher, Cork, against the Health Service Executive (HSE) in relation Romi’s death in August 2012.

Dr O’Mahony, in relaying the events that took place, said the child’s condition worsened and a blood sample taken coagulated and therefore could not be tested accurately. It was claimed that Counsel said if a repeat blood test had been successful a diagnosis could have been reached and a proper course of treatment administered. Instead, the High Court was told, Romi was kept at Cork University Hospital (CUH) and his condition got worse. He said “His (Romi’s) heart was racing, his breath was racing. The penny never dropped until it was too late”.

It was claimed that Romi’s health was not reviewed again by a doctor until August 5. By this time his breathing had become more laboured but the probability of whooping cough was allegedly not considered.

It was claimed there was a failure at this point to complete a chest X-ray and a failure to discuss the possibility of the provision of antibiotics was pivotal.

It was claimed that the possibility of whooping cough infection was noted for the first time on August 11 after another deterioration in the child’s condition. However a medical intervention still did not take place. A chest X-ray revealed significant areas of lung infection.

The following day, August 12, the Romi experienced a respiratory arrest and had to be resuscitated, intubated and moved to a Dublin hospital where he sadlydied on August 14.

The High Court was informed that liability remained an issue in the legal action case while Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the whooping cough damages settlement.

Failure to Treat Compensation Settlement of €2m Awarded to Woman Suffering from Ovarian Cancer

A woman who is suffering with terminal ovarian cance has settled her High Court action against the HSE for €2million in Failure to treat compensation. The woman, who cannot be named by order of the court,  took the compensation action following an alleged failure to take proper measures to safeguard her from the danger of developing the cancer.

Regardless of the fact that there was a known family history of ovarian cancer she was not given  genetic testing. In September 2017, when she was finally sent for the genetic testing , after she had started to develop the ovarian cancer,  the results showed that she had been a “carrier all the time.”

Counsel for the woman Patrick Treacy SC advised the court the HSE would be sending a send a “letter of regret” to her. The settlement followed mediation talks with the woman and her family and does not include an admission of liability.

Mr Treacy stated that it was her wish that her case would improve the genetic screening services.

The legal action was taken by the woman, her husband and family against the Health Service Executive. In 2015 the woman underwent a colposcopy and it was discovered that she experience mild changes in the cervix area. Later, in February 2017, test showed that she had ovarian tumours and pathology indicated high grade 3 serious cancer of both ovaries and she underwent a hysterectomy.

Following a genetic analysis in September 2017, that the woman had a pathogenic mutation in the BRCA1 gene. In other words, she was a person who was at high risk of ovarian cancer. It was also claimed that the woman’s cancer was allowed to develop and spread unidentified and untreated until she was finally diagnosed with Stage 3c high grade serious ovarian cancer in February 2017.

The Health Service Executive denied the allegations. Mr Justice Paul Butler approved the Failure to Treat compensation settlement.

Woman ‘afraid to smile after dental treatment’ settles €60k claim for Undisclosed Amount

A Co Dublin housewife who has settled a €60,000 Dental Negligence Compensation Action, says she was afraid to smile following a treatment to one of her teeth.

Fifty-year-old Roisin Mimnagh, of Marina Village, Malahide, has claimed in the Circuit Civil Court that she was distraught to find an incisor had been filed away without her authorization and replaced with an amalgam or composite.

Counsel for Mrs Mimnagh, David McParland, told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that his client was happy with her appearance and had gone to Dr Anna O’Donovan, Griffith Avenue, Dublin, to have an incisor realigned.

McParland told the court: “To her horror she afterwards found that her tooth had been filed away and replaced with an amalgam or composite that was smaller and shorter and different from her original tooth”.

Legal representatives for Dr O’Donovan claimed she had entered a full defence to Ms Mimnagh’s claim but had conceded that written authorization for the specific remedy for her tooth had not been received prior to the dental treatment.

Judge Linnane said she had reviewed the pleadings and had found that the latest expert report was over three years old. There had been some remedial work completed in 2013 shortly after the initial treatment.

Mr McParland said Ms Mimnagh was still wearing an appliance on her tooth and one of the specialists who had reviewed her felt that she would need additional realignment work.

He said she had thought at first she was going to have some white filling applied to her tooth to make it look straighter. When she later discovered it had been filed away and an amalgam or composite put on it, she said that she was afraid to smile.

Ms Mimnagh, the Court was advised, had personally sourced an orthodontist who had given her an estimate for more than €5,000 to realign her tooth. The specialist agreed with Ms Corcoran that this estimate had applied to the provision of treatment to all of her teeth including an appointment with a dental hygienist.

When talks about possibly settling the dental negligence case was suggested by Judge Linnane, the court was advised  by Ms Corcoran that Dr O’Donovan had always had “a significant willingness” to tackle with the case. Shortly after this  Mr McParland told the judge that the case had been settled and could be struck out with an order for Ms Mimnagh’s legal expenses to be taxed in default of agreement. The amount of the settlement was not made public.

€10m Cerebral Palsy Compensation Payment for 11-year-old Girl

The High Court has given approval for a €10m compensation settlement for an 11-year-old girl who has suffered with cerebral palsy since, and due to, her delivery on September 26, 2006 at Mayo General Hospital.

Legal representative for Rachel Hynes, Denis McCullough, said in court that her parents were extremely eager to finish the process with a final lump sum compensation payment. He commented that this is because Rachel and her family found the legal process, involving medical examinations and assessments before each court appearance, very trying.

Approving the cerebral palsy compensationaward against the HSE, President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly pointed to the fact that this would have been Rachel’s third time in court. She had to go through “a battery of tests and assessments” before each subsequent appearance.

Ms Hynes was brought to Mayo General on September 27 and the next day they began to induce the birth and syntocinon was started after midday.

Rachel was born in poor physical condition. It was claimed in court that there was a failure to adequately manage the labour, delivery and birth of Rachel. The court heard liability was accepted in the case. Rachel requires one-to-one care because she is in danger of falling, Senior Counsel Denis McCullough told the court.

Rachel is currently in fifth class at school and it is envisaged that she will go on to attend both secondary school and receive third level education. When Justice Peter Kelly announced the approval, Rachel thanked him publicly.

Mr Justice Kelly remarked that is a rare occasion when judges are thanked and he was very grateful to Rachel for this. He said that it was a good compensation settlement, which will allow Rachel to receive the care she will needs for the foreseeable future.

€5m misdiagnosis negligence settlement for Woman (60)

60 years old Bernadette Surlis has had a misdiagnosis negligence settlement with the Health Service Executive (HSE)  of €5m approved in relation to the treatment she received at Sligo General Hospital in 2013.

Senior Counsel Mr Cush said that, if  had Ms Surlis been properly and quickly diagnosed and treated in November 2013, she would not have suffered the injuries. He advised the court that liability was accepted by the HSE.

Ms Surlis attended Sligo General Hospital on November 3, 2013, as she a headache, was vomiting and had a dilated left pupil on her eye, but was designated as category three and left to wait for treatment for another three hours. ‘Triaged’ refers to the fact that she was not treated as an immediate emergency.

Physicians looked over her for evidence of glaucoma and discharged her. However, she returned the following day when the severity of her condition was “appreciated for the first time”.

Ms Surlis, who lives at Drinaum, Strokestown in Co Roscommon was transferred to Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital on November 5 as she suffered a hemorrhage and severe/permanent injury. She now needs permanent care and Mr Cush said the opinion of experts was that her condition will only slightly improve over the course of her life. She is aware regarding her condition and has difficulty communicating but can do so with the assistance of her family members. Ms Surlis has three grown children and four sisters living nearby her.

It is thought that if she had been sent to Beaumont when she first attended the hospital in Sligo she could have been treated properly and made a full recovery.

Bernadette Surlis is now restricted to a wheelchair and lives in a nursing home. Mr Justice Kevin Cross was advised that the misdiagnosis negligence settlement means she may realise her wish to return home in the future.

Judge Mr Justice Kevin Cross said the medical negligence settlement was a “reasonable and very good one” and that he hopes it will lead to Ms Surlis returning to live at home.

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 medical records show she 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.

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.