Category Archives: Failure to Diagnose Claims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Court Approves 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.

Court Approves Interim Settlement of Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy Compensation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High Court 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.

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.