‘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.