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”.