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Hospital Negligence

€710,000 Paid by HSE for Prescription Error Negligence

The High Court has given approval for a €710,000 prescription error negligence compensation settlement offer made by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to a woman (69) who experienced a massive stroke after she was sent home from a hospital without her vital blood thinning medication.

Along with this an apology was issued by the HSE and annual care for the rest of her life in the region of €250,000 a year will be provided.

The woman, Mary Moss, was left without her required anti-coagulants “unknowingly” for six weeks and, as a result, suffered a massive stroke. She is now disabled.

The apology to Ms Moss, made through a court statement, and her family for any “shortcomings” the took place during her attending Sligo University Hospital. It went on to express regret for the massive impact that this has inflicted on the life of Ms Moss and her family.

Legal counsel for Mary Moss, Des O’Neill SC, for Ms Moss, told the High Court that she had experience a stroke during 2010 and recovered well. In February 2018 she had experienced another ‘episode’ and her anti-thinning medication was amended accordingly in hospital. However, her new medication was not included on her prescription upon her discharge. This error went unnoticed until Ms Moss experienced another stroke six weeks later.

Mr O’Neill said Ms Moss is, at present, in the National Rehabilitation Hospital, having made a good recovery. Her family plan are formulating plans to take her home to Ballymote, Co Sligo, as soon as they can. Her daughter, Leanne Moss spoke outside court saying that she was happy to know that her mother’s care will be paid for annually and that this would help her family significantly. She said her mother is confined to a wheelchair.as she suffers from left side paralysis due to this stroke.

The family’s solicitor, Roger Murray, commented: “Thanks to a successful mediation, the family can now concentrate on getting the best possible care for their mother, and moving her home to the west where she is happiest.”

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9-Year-Old Boy Awarded €32m in Birth Injury Negligence Compensation

Benjamin Gillick, aged 9, who sustained permanent brain injuries as a result of a delayed diagnosis of an infection when he was being delivered has had a €32 million medical negligence compensation award approved in the High Court.

The injuries were inflicted on the boy when his mother was giving birth to. Benjamin’s parents, Miriam and Andrew Gillick, asked the judge not to approve the proposed injury at birth compensation settlement as they believe it to be an insufficient amount to provide him with everything he needs for the remainder of his life saying: “It leaves us with a shortfall that will be imposed on ourselves or our children, or possibly our grandchildren.”

Judge Justice Kevin Cross told the court that a small percentage of the birth injury compensation, under €500,000, was being awarded due to the life changing injuries afflictions that Benjamin suffered at birth. The rest of the birth injury compensation settlement is made up of the costs associated with Benjamin’s complex treatment, educational and housing needs for the rest of his life.

The family, who previously lived in Chapelizod, Dublin now live in the UK in London.  As party of the injury at birth compensation action Benjamin said that he believed that the hospital was negligent in the review, diagnosis, medical treatment and care of the shunt infection that was carried out.

Approving for the final injury at birth compensation settlement offer of €25m, Judge Cross said: “When the headlines come to be written it should be noted that no one is getting a bonanza”.

Andrew Gillick, the father of the boy, advised Judge Cross that he is very worried that proposed injury at birth compensation settlement award not being a large enough amount when contrasted with the rates of return on investment in England. He went on to say that a similar case heard in the United Kingdom where the injury at birth compensation award was almost €45m due to the costs of medical-carers, therapists, aids and appliances, transport and education.



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Post Operation Negligence Compensation of €63,000 for Woman She Fell and Cut Herself

€63,000 post operation negligence compensation has been given to 58-year-old Ms Concepta Anderson at the High Court after she picked up a permanent scar in an accident during her post operative treatment at St James’s Hospital in Dublin as she as recovering form the removal of a heart pacemaker.

Ms Anderson, with an address at Sooey, Co Sligo, began the compensation action against St James’s hospital after she experienced a syncope episode, a heart stoppage leading to a blackout, and fell to the floor when she using a hospital toilet on May 18th, 2014.

The accident happened during her recovery period following a procedure to remove her permanent pacemaker. Ms Anderson was waiting for her new pacemaker to be put in when ther accident took place, leaving her with a head injury and has a permanent cut on her head.

Presiding Judge Justice Anthony Barr told the Court, in his reserved judgment, that he was aware that Ms Anderson had a known history of falls and syncope and should have represented a potential fall risk after her pacemaker was removed.

However, the Judge said that he was of the opinion that there was negligence on behalf of her consultant cardiologist in not ensuring that clear directions were provided to nursing staff that Ms Anderson was a fall high risk case and therefore should be told to remain in her bed and only allowed to walk about with proper help.

However, as no such warning was provided, Ms Anderson was not told to stay in bed and was permitted move freely within the range of her telemetry monitor. The judge said that this put her in serious danger.

He added that claimant was lucky that she was in the bathroom when she experience the syncope episode. The Judge went on to say that he did not accept the additional claims of negligence in relation to a decision not to place a temporary wire after the removal of the pacemaker and before the replacement device was put in. Ms Anderson was impacted with a moderate head injury in the accident, he added.

He awarded her postoperative medical negligence compensation of €63,112.

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Cervical Cancer Failure to Diagnose Compensation Claim Settled Days after Death of Orla Church

A High Court action taken by Orla Church, a 54-year-old cervical cancer sufferer, has been settled just days following her untimely passing.

Legal representative for Mrs Church, Barrister Richard Kean, informed Justice Kevin Cross that a settlement has been agreed in the case and that Ms Church’s father, Charles Church, along with the dead woman’s sister were present in court for the hearing.

Counsel said that mediation in the case had not been possible to proceed, as had been indicated to the court when it was last mentioned before the judge just days before Ms Church died. Justice Cross offered his sympathies to the Church family on her death. He also thanks the respective legal teams for reaching a settlement.

Mrs Orla Church, of Elm Mount Avenue in Beaumont, had submitted the legal action against the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnositcs Incorporated of Delaware as a result of the failure of the smear tests she underwent to return a positive result for cervical cancer. The test took place as part of the CervicalCheck screening programme for Irish women.

Ms Church underwent a smear test in September 2011 which was examined at a laboratory managed by Quest Diagnositcs. It is claimed that the results of the laboratory screening stated that there was no  abnormality detected and Mrs Church was referred to continue with a regular screening timeline.

Ms Church had a subsequent routine smear test in September 2014 and the official laboratory report, once again, stated that there were no abnormalities present in the sample. However, Mrs Church attended hospital in December 2015 as she was experiencing pelvic pain. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer with a tumour of over 4cms showing up in a resulting scan.

After a review of her 2011 and 2014 tests it is claimed that the results had since been changed amended in both instances. However, this claim was later amended to state that there had been no change to the outcome of the 2011 smear test, only the 2014 smear test result had been tampered with. All claims were denied by the defendants.

In her cervical cancer failure to diagnose compensation action Ms Church claimed that the reporting by the Quest Diagnostics laboratory lead to a false negative result both in September 2011 and in September 2014. By September 2017, she had suffered a sever downturn in her health and was advised in May 2018 there was a recurrence of her cancer, with secondary tumours now present in her kidneys.

The Church family, through their legal team, thanked the court and court registrar Grainne O’Loughlin for expediting the matter.

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Medical Misdiagnosis Claim Settled in Court

A case of a woman being rendered severely disabled due to doctors misdiagnosing the severity of her illness when she first arrived in hospital has been settled in court.

Bernadette Surlis (60 years of age) made a misdiagnosis negligence claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE) in relation to the treatment she received at Sligo General Hospital in 2013. The claim was recently settled for a settlement of compensation of €5 million.

In November 2013, Ms Surlis attended Sligo General Hospital suffering from a headache and vomiting fits. Although staff at the facility diagnosed her with a dilated left pupil on her eye, she was designated as “category three” in triage and left to wait for treatment for another three hours.

When medical staff finally saw her, they inspected her for evidence of glaucoma. Finding none, they 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 in unable to live independently. Senior Counsel, Mr Cush, said the opinion of experts was that her condition will only slightly improve over the course of her life. She is aware of the severity of her condition, and the implications that it will have on her quality of life. Ms Surlis 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, who shall all aid in caring for her.

In relation to the claim, Mr Cush stated that 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. Expert medical consultants stated that if she had been sent to Beaumont when she first attended the hospital in Sligo, it is likely that 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.

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Birth Injury Claim Settled in High Court

A High Court judge has approved a settlement of compensation of €15 million to the family of a young boy who was left permanently disabled due to the mismanagement of his birth by hospital staff.

Coombe Hostpial, Dublin, has issued an apology to Eoin McCallig (four years of age) and his family, from Dunkineely in Co Donegal, for injuries the young boy sustained at birth. They further apologised for the difficult position in which it has put his family and all those who care for him. A €15 million settlement of compensation for the error has been approved in the High Court.

In response to the statement, Eoin’s father, Anthony, said the family could forgive the error. However, he further stated that they could not reconcile themselves with the way HSE treated their family and others who suffered similarly during the process of seeking compensation.

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

He said that the HSE has spent €800m over the last ten years fighting these compensation cases. Mr McCallig felt that this money could be put to better use.
Mr McCallig stated that the birth injury settlement of €15m would never change what happened to Eoin, but it would provide some peace of mind for the family as they knew that Eoin would now be taken care after if anything happened to them.

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

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

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

Due to Eoin being a minor, the settlement of compensation had to be approved of a High Court judge to ensure that it was in Eoin’s best interests. Mr Justice Peter Kelly approved the settlement, and wished Eoin the best for his future.

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High Court Judge Approves Interim Settlement of Compensation

A High Court judge has approved an interim settlement of compensation in the case of a young girl who suffered from catastrophic birth injuries.
In November 2004, Isabelle Sheehan from Mallow in County Cork was delivered by emergency Caesarean Section at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital. Her mother, Catherine, had had a blood test earlier that day, and the results which had revealed a sudden increase in the presence of antibodies.

Although the antibodies would have been in conflict with those of Isabelle´s father – Colm – Catherine Sheehan´s paediatric consultant had failed to refer Catherine to an expert in foetal medicine. As a result of this negligence and lack of further medical intervention, Isabelle was born with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. She has been left reliant on care from her parents, and will remain disabled for life.

On Isabelle´s behalf, Catherine Sheehan sought legal counsel. She made a claim for compensation for failing to refer a patient to a specialist. In the claim, she alleged that, had an expert in foetal medicine seen the results of the blood test in good time, Isabelle would not have been born with such devastating birth injuries.
A court hearing was scheduled for October 2011. At the hearing, the paediatric consultant – Dr David Corr – admitted that he had made a mistake by failing to refer Catherine to specialist and, on that occasion, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill approved an initial settlement of compensation in the amount of €1.9 million.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill adjourned the original hearing for two years to allow for a structured compensation payment system to be introduced. However, the government has failed to legislate for such a scheme. Thus, with no such facility yet in place, the case was heard again by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court for approval of another interim settlement.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that a further interim settlement of compensation for failing to refer a patient to a specialist amounting to €635,000  had been agreed to pay for the care Isabelle will need for the next two years – by which time it is hoped that a more suitable solution is available.

After hearing that Isabelle is “bright and intelligent”, and keeping up with children in her mainstream national school class with help from an assistant, Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the second settlement of compensation for failing to refer a patient to a specialist, and adjourned the case for a further two years.

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Prominent Solicitor Condemns Medical Negligence Rate in Ireland

A prominent solicitor has condemned the medical negligence rate in Ireland while speaking at a conference on the matter in September this year.

In September, Roger Murray, joint Managing partner at Callan Tansey solicitors, stated that he estimates that 1,000 unnecessary deaths happen annually every year in Ireland due to medical negligence. Mr Murray made these claims while speaking at a medical negligence conference, Pathways to Progress, attended by solicitors, medical workers and patients.

In his speech, Mr Murray stated that the four categories in which medical negligence incidents commonly occur are surgery (36 per cent), medicine (24 per cent), maternity (23 per cent), and gynaecology (7.5 per cent).

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

The solicitor issued a plea for thorough investigations when mistakes do happen. He 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. He cited incidents such as this as vital improvement opportunities that had been missed.

Mr Murray said upward of 160,000 people attending hospitals in Ireland experience injuries due to human mistakes made my medical staff at the facilities. In his speech, he 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.

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The State Claims Agency Releases Report on Claims Against the State in 2016

The State Claims Agency (SCA) has released figures revealing that the cost of compensation claims taken against the State was €256.2 million last year.

The SCA is the Government entity which handles legal actions taken against the State. The reported increase of 22%, which brings the accumulative cost of compensation claims to €2.2 billion, was included in and released in their 2016 accounts. In comparison with previous years, it is clear from these figures that there has been a surge in the amount of costs incurred due to legal actions involving the State in recent years.

Séamus McCarthy Comptroller and Auditor General for  the Government’s financial watchdog remarked on the consistent increase in compensation claims saying, “The number of claims under management has increased significantly since 2011”.

The figures in the account under scrutiny show that the number of legal actions against the State given a ‘pending’ status numbered 8,900 at the end of 2016. At the end of 2011 this number was 6,000.

The total amount of compensation and legal costs paid out for legal actions against the State in 2016 was €256.2 million. In 2015 the figure was €219.3 million, showing a growth of 22%, or €36.9 million. This correlates with the total number of actions taken, which grew by 24% to 2,300. There were a number of factors that contributed to this rise.

The payout breakdown by government agency was also released. Compensation pay outs for legal actions taken against the child protection agency Tusla and the Health Service Executive (HSE) made up the majority (€1.9 billion) of the €2.2 billion total amount paid out by the state.

The Department of Justice and Defence, including the Gardaí, prison service and Army, was responsible for claims worth €175 million compared to €27 million for to the Department of Health.

The compensation bill for the Department of Education was approximately €50 million.

The State Claims Agency was established as part of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), to tackle at the increase in compensation claims being taken against the State.

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Woman Receives Compensation in Hospital Fall Claim

A woman who fractured her spine in a hospital fall has been awarded compensation for her injury by the Circuit Civil Court.

In April 2015, while attending the Mater Hospital for day surgery, a seventy-nine year old woman (who remains anonymoud) attempted to get out of bed when she slipped and fell. The woman-originally from Finglas, Dublin-was recovering from the general anaesthetic administered to her due to her surgery when the accident occurred. Due to the hard impact with the floor, she fractured her spine.

The woman spent a month in the Mater Hospital recovering from the injuries to her spine. She was then transferred to the Clontarf Orthopaedic Hospital for further treatment by specialists and physiotherapy treatment. She now has to wear a lumbar brace and use a Zimmer frame to support herself when she walks.

The woman is dependant upon a significant amount of care and assisstance, which is largely provided by her daughter. This is in a sharp constant to her having led a largely independent life before the accident. After seeking legal counsel, she made a nursing negligence claim against the Mater Hospital. In the claim, she alleged that ithe hospital had failed to adhere to its fall prevention policy.
The defendants denied liability for her injuries, so the nursing negligence claim was heard by Judge James O´Donohoe at the Circuit Civil Court. The judge informed by the plaintiff´s barrister that the woman should have been closely monitored at the hospital due to her having a severe fall at her home the previous November. An expert witness on behalf of the witness testified the hospital should have been aware of her fall and recorded it in the woman´s care plan.

Judge O´Donohoe heard from the head of nursing at the Mater, who explained to the judge how the accident had happened. However, the defendants could not explain why the hospital´s fall prevention policy had not been adhered to or why the nurse who attended the woman after her fall had not been called to give evidence. The judge told the court the absence of the attending nurse “spoke volumes”.

After hearing from the plaintiff´s daughter that her mother was “not the woman she had been prior to her fall”, Judge O´Donohoe found in the woman´s favour. She was awarded €58,500 in settlement of her nursing negligence claim, but placing a stay on €28,500 of the settlement pending an appeal from the Mater Hospital.

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Failure to Diagnose Illnesses Major Cause of Negligence Claims

Medical staff’s failure to diagnose illnesses and injuries account for large proportion of emergency room negligence claims in recent years.

Recently, the State Claims Agency released its review of “National Clinical Incidents, Claims and Costs”. This analysed the nature of claims made during the period between 2010 and 2014. The nature of such clinical claims is categorised into medical, surgical, maternity, disability or elderly care. The publication examined the motivating factors for claims made in the aforementioned categories.

A sub-category has been created to account in the broad medical negligence section for clinical incidents in hospital emergency rooms and the claims that result when an adverse outcome has occurred. More than 60% of emergency room negligence claims were due to the failure to diagnose an illness or injury and delayed diagnoses in the emergency room.

The next most abundant type of claim was the failure to treat or a delay in treatment, but there were only a quarter of the number of these compared to claims for a failure or delay in diagnosing an injury or illness. Other common reasons for emergency room negligence claims included foreign objects left inside a patient, soft tissue damage during the administration of treatment and avoidable reactions to known allergens.

Some common reasons for such diagnostic failures were the failure to perform a radiograph (or interpret the results correctly) in the case of a fracture, and incomplete medical examinations in other illness and injury scenarios. Other areas of concern included incomplete patient note taking and a lack of communication. These both contributed to a great deal of the number of emergency room negligence claims.

According to the review´s lead author Dr Dubhfeasa Slattery, the primary goal of the published review is to improve patient safety by analysing the most common areas of failure and implementing measures to improve patient care.  Dr Slattery described the process as a “learning health system”, and it is hoped that this has a positive effect in relation to the treatment received in hospital emergency rooms and leads to a reduction in emergency room negligence claims.

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Class Action Against French Manufacturer of Epilepsy Drug

The families of children who were born with developmental defects have formed a class action against the French manufacturers of the epilepsy drug Epilim.

Depakine was introduced into France in the 1960s as an anti-epilepsy drug, and was later introduced in Ireland under the trade name Epilim. The active ingredient of the drug is sodium valproate, and it has also been prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, migraine and other chronic pain conditions because of an agent in valproate called GABA that stabilises electrical activity in the brain.

When taken by woman during pregnancy, the sodium valproate is converted into valproic acid. When this enters the bloodstream, it can have an adverse effect on the health of the unborn child and affect its development. Children born with “foetal valproate syndrome” have been known to suffer from a range of congenital and development issues including autism and spina bifida.

The first signs that there could be risks of foetal valproate syndrome related to taking Epilim during pregnancy were first identified in the 1980s. However, the evidence in these cases was considered not sufficiently conclusive and was allegedly covered up to prevent “fruitless anxiety” by those who used the drug. The French manufacturer of the drug, Sanofi, later informed leading medical bodies of the risks in 2006. In spite of this warning, many medical professionals were left in the dark about the true extent of the drugs effects.

Only recently has France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) looked deeper into the birth defect claims against Sanofi. The agency has recently published a report revealing that up to 4,100 children were born between 2007 and 2014 with “severe malformations” due to their mothers having taken the French version of Epilim. Tragically, the report also states that hundreds more are likely to have died in the womb.

In light of the report, the children´s parents sought legal counsel, and now are forming a class action making birth defect claims against Sanofi. The claim is being made on the grounds that the drug manufacturer failed to adequately advise the medical professional of the risks associated with Epilim or print warnings on the outside of the packets. The French government has also got involved and is discussing a compensation package.

In Ireland, Epilim is still sold without a warning on the front of the packet. It is not known how many children have been diagnosed with foetal valproate syndrome due to being exposed to valproic acid in the womb. The Disability Federation in Ireland has called on the government to conduct an audit of children diagnose with foetal valproate syndrome. If a family member has been affected by this issue, and you would like to know more about birth defect claims against Sanofi, please do not hesitate to speak with a solicitor.

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Family Wins Birth Negligence Case After Battling with HSE for Decade

A family has finally won a case for birth negligence compensation after battling with the HSE, who denied liability for the birth injuries for nearly a decade.

In May 2006, a baby boy was born at Kerry General Hosptial. He was born by emergency Caesarean Section, after his birth was avoidably delayed by approximately two hours. The circumstances surrounding his birth were difficult, due to the negligence of the staff involved in the procedure. The difficulties began when no action was taken on a CTG trace that indicated foetal distress, and when a measure of his heartbeat indicated that he was experiencing issues in the womb. No consultant obstetrician was informed these measurements, or of the potential dangers surrounding his birth, including the risk of foetal hypoxia or other adverse health issues.

Due to the avoidable delay, the boy endured a lack of oxygen in the womb. This resulted in him suffering from devastating brain damage. After later medical assessment, he was diagnosed with mixed dyskinetic spastic cerebral palsy. The boy, who is now ten years of age, requires 24-hour care by his family. He cannot communicate orally, and he will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Despite the negligence of their staff on several counts, the HSE failed to admit liability for the boy’s suffering 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. It was only after threats of aggravated damages by the family’s legal team that they were prompted to admit their liability and negligence. An interim settlement of €2.7 million compensation for brain damage at birth was rushed through the courts to alleviate the family of financial burdens as quickly as possible.

Further negotiations ensued between the two legal teams, and 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 and in his best interests.

The case was heard by Judge Kelly at the High Court. He 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.

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Compensation Awarded to Family of Severely Disabled Child

Compensation has been awarded to the family of a child left severely disabled due to negligence on the part of hospital staff surrounding his birth.

In March 2010, the young boy in question was born at Cork University Maternity Hospital. A CTG scan was taken, and despite concerning signs on the trace, the hospital staff did not believe that the foetus was in any danger. As such, the planned Caesarean section was delayed. As a result of this delay, the foetus suffered from a hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy in the womb. He was born with severe brain damage.

The baby, now six years old, was left blind and unable to speak. He also suffers from daily seizures and is cared for around the clock by his parents and extended family. The family also receive support from the Jack and Jill Foundation and other charities.

Due to the negligent nature of the hospital staff surrounding the boy’s birth, the family sought legal counsel. Acting on her child’s behalf, the boy’s mother made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE). The claim alleged 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.

The HSE denied the allegations of negligence, but offered to pay an interim settlement of compensation without admitting liability. The €1.35 million 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, as the child is a minor and a judge must determine if the settlement is in the child’s best interests.  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. The case adjourned the case for three years for the value of future settlements of compensation to be assessed.

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Boy Receives Compensation for Birth Negligence Resulting in Disability

A six-year-old boy has received compensation A claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy was bought by the child´s mother against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Cork University Maternity Hospital. The woman’s son-one of twin boys born on 5th October 2010 – was diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.

The High Court received evidence from the woman’s legal team that a scan conducted in June 2010 revealed a low-lying placenta, and that a second scan in September 2010 indicated there was a risk of vasa praevia – a pregnancy complication in which babies blood vessels cross or run near the internal opening of the uterus. In spite of these medical complications revealed by the scans, no further action was taken.

As a result of the alleged negligence, one of the twins suffered foetal distress in the womb. He now suffers from spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, resulting in mobility and cognitive difficulties. He was flown to Missouri for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy to help him to begin to learn how to walk. Despite successful treatment, he now requires a walker or a wheelchair whenever he gets tired or ill.

His family sought legal counsel, and brought the case of negligence to the courts. It was alleged in the court action that the Cork University Maternity Hospital should have conducted a more specific scan in September 2010 to address the risk of vasa praevia, and that the hospital demonstrated a failure to exercise reasonable care at the antenatal stage of the pregnancy.

At the High Court the defendants-the HSE-testified it was not a part of their regular proceedings to carry out a second scan to address the risk of vasa praevia. The HSE contested liability in the claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy. In spite of the denial of any negligence on their part, the HSE agreed to an interim settlement of compensation for spastic diplegic cerebral palsy amounting to €1.98 million.

The judge was told various details of the six-year-old boy’s life, ranging from his mobility struggles to how won a National Children of Courage Award in 2014,. The judge was further informed that the funds will be used to provide him with greater access to private physiotherapy, speech, language and occupational therapy. The judge approved the interim settlement on the boy’s behalf. The case will return to the High Court in five years after the boy´s future needs have been assessed, so that a further settlement of compensation can be negotiated.

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Surgical Negligence Claim Results in Family Receiving €7.1 million in Compensation

A case of surgical negligence-in which a man was deprived of oxygen during surgery-has resulted in his family receiving €7.1 million in compensation due to the brain damage he subsequently suffered.

A former barrister, aged forty-six, visited the Sports Surgery Clinic in North Dublin concerning pain he was experiencing in his back. In 2014, he elected to have surgery on his cervical spine due to the pain. However, though the back pain was relieved, during the surgery there was mismanagement of the anaesthetic and the patient was deprived of oxygen and as a result sustained severe brain damage. He later underwent medical assessment and was diagnosed with a hypoxic brain injury.

Since the surgery, the ex-barrister has been reliant on twenty-four-hour care. The patient can smile at his children and has certain reactions around his family, but cannot otherwise communicate. Though he is currently in a resident care home, his family hope that he will one day be able to return home to them in Clonee, Co. Meath.

Acting on her husband’s behalf as he is now unable to represent himself, the man’s wife made a claim for medical negligence compensation against Deirdre Lohan, the anaesthetist on the day of the surgery. However, the medical practitioner did not concede liability until October 2016. A settlement of compensation valuing €7.1 million was negotiated between the two legal parties. However, before the settlement could be awarded it first had to be approved by a High Court judge, as it was made on another’s behalf.

The approval hearing was held earlier this month, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings. The judge was informed of that, to date, the man’s care costs were being funded by a trust fund established and supported by his friends and former colleagues. He also heard of the wife’s distress, and her eagerness to accept the settlement to finish with proceedings and move on with her life.

The judge proceeded to approve the €7.1 million settlement for surgical negligence, offering his own sympathies towards the family after the “terrible tragedy” they had endured.

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Compensation Awarded in Chickenpox Misdiagnosis Case

Compensation has been awarded to the family of a little boy who has been left severely disabled when his case of chickenpox was misdiagnosed.

In August 2012-shortly before his second birthday, Eoghan Keating was brought to the A&E Department of Waterford Regional Hospital. Eoghan-originally from Upper Dunhill in County Waterford-was suffering from a high fever and having developed a rash on his abdomen. After undergoing medical examination by the staff at the facility, Eoghan was misdiagnosed as having mumps. He was sent home with his parents after being treated with ibuprofen and Calpol to relieve his symptoms.

Despite the medical attention, the parents noticed their son’s condition deteriorated during the night. He became lethargic and his neck began to swell. His concerned parents – Larry and Martina – called the CareDoc GP service, who advised that Eoghan be taken back to the hospital as soon as possible. He was brought back to Waterford Regional Hospital, where he underwent further medical examinations. Eoghan was correctly diagnosed as having a chicken pox infection.

Eoghan was incubated and ventilated before being transferred to the Children´s Hospital in Dublin. Due to the delay in receiving the correct diagnosis,  the boy suffered a serious brain injury. Now six year of age, Eoghan is tetraplegic and cannot talk.

On her son´s behalf, Martina Keating made a claim for chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE), alleging that there had been a failure by medical staff at the Waterford Regional Hospital to admit her son or identify the indications of a significant infection. Due to this incorrect diagnosis, her son was left severely disabled. Liability for the medical negligence that resulted in Eoghan´s condition was acknowledged by the HSE and a €2.5 million interim settlement of chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation was agreed.

As the claim for chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation had been made on behalf of a child, the interim settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in the child’s best interests. The case was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court in Dublin. A medical professional informed the judge of the sequence of events leading up to Eoghan´s brain injury and the consequences of his injury. At the hearing, the family was also read an apology by the General Manager of Waterford Regional Hospital – Richard Dooley – for the “deficiencies in care provided to Eoghan”.

After commenting that the Keatings´ “suffering cannot be described or defined”, Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation and adjourned the case for two years to allow for an assessment of Eoghan´s future needs. In two years´ time, the family will return to court for the approval of a second interim compensation settlement unless a system of periodic payments has been introduced in the intervening period.

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New National Patient Safety Office Announced by Health Minister

The Minister for Health has announced that the new National Patient Safety Office at a patient safety conference this week in Dublin.

The soon-to-be established National Patient Safety Office, announced by the Health Minister Simin Harris, will report to the Department of Justice and Equality. The minister announced the creation of the new organisation whilst speaking at a patient safety conference in Dublin. He further commented that the organisation will “lead a program of significant patient safety measures”, and should revolutionise the way in which medical negligence claims are made in Ireland.

In order to achieve its goals, the office will establish a patient advocacy service for patients across Ireland. It will work to create a new patient advisory council and implement the use of a patient safety surveillance system. It will also review the existing procedures for claiming medical negligence compensation and their efficacy in the Irish legal system.

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 they have endured while in the care of medical professionals in Ireland. Not all Irish hospitals have adopted the guidelines released by the HSE in 2013 regarding open disclosure, and as such legal cases can vary significantly depending on which hospital the claim is made against.

It has been the longtime goal of many patient rights organisations to lobbying successive Ministers for Health for such a review. They claimed that – without that statutory duty of candour – any new medical negligence claims are impossible. Leo Varadkar, former Minister for Health, has come under heavy criticism from these groups 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, and to extend the Health Information and Quality Authority’s (HIQA) hold over private healthcare providers. They further want to see novel technologies used to record and exchange health data.  However, until the EU revises its data protection regulations, none of these innovations are likely to be enforced.

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Girl Receives Compensation for Scarring while Hospital Denies Liability

A young girl is to receive compensation for permanent scarring to her back due to events that happened shortly after her birth, while the hospital still denies liability for her injuries.

In October 2012, Ann Ryan gave birth to a daughter at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin. She was just twenty-five weeks into her pregnancy, and the baby girl was born at just 840 grams. Due to her small birth weight, the baby-named Sophia-was transferred to the Special Care Unit to receive specialist attention. Medical staff inserted various catheters to administer drugs and help with her feeding.

As she was at risk of skin sepsis, the areas where the catheters were inserted were cleaned with chlorhexidine. This was used instead of the regular povidone-iodine, as part of the National Children´s Research Centre´s “SKA trial”. Before Sophia’s birth, Ann agreed for Sophia to participate in this trial on the grounds that her child would not experience any discomfort or side effects.

However, the day after chrlohexidine was applied to the area at risk of sepsis,  hospital staff noticed a large area of redness and a small area of ulceration on Sophia´s back. She underwent immediate medical examination, and the redness was diagnosed as being an adverse reaction to the chlorhexidine.  Sophia was displaying signs of distress and discomfort due to the adverse reaction. Morphine was administered intravenously in an attempt to relieve her pain.

Sophia was administered Fucidim-a cream used to prevent bacterial skin infections-when she was only two days old. This resulted in Sophia suffering a deep dermal skin burn. The Fucidim treatment was discontinued the following day and an alternate cream administered – Duoderm.  The burn marks on Sophia’s skin did not disappear despite further treatment. In May 2014, her mother brought her to the hospital´s consultant paediatric dermatologist. The mark on Sophia’s skin was diagnosed as a scar consistent with a chemical burn. She and her husband sought legal counsel to claim compensation for their daughter’s injury.

On behalf of his daughter, Tom Ryan, claimed compensation for an adverse reaction to antisepsis, alleging that the National Maternity Hospital had been negligent in her treatment. It was due to the hospital´s negligence the affected skin will be permanently discoloured and that she will likely require a skin graft in the future.

The defendants denied liability for Sohpia’s scar. In spite of this denial of liability, the hospital offered to settle the claim for €100,000. As the claim for compensation for an adverse reaction to antisepsis had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement first had to be approved by a judge. The case was brought to the High Court in Dublin and was heard by Mr Justice Richard Humphries.

The judge was told the details of Sophia´s treatment after her premature birth. After hearing that Sophia spent 135 days in hospital after her birth, but has suffered no developmental delays due to her experience, the judge approved the settlement of compensation for an adverse reaction to antisepsis plus costs. The settlement will now be paid into an interest-yielding court fund until Sophia reaches the age of eighteen.

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Teenager Wins Compensation for Avoidable Deterioration of Hearing Claim

A teenage girl has won compensation from the HSE for an incorrect diagnosis of her hearing impediment, which resulted in her hearing deteriorating before she was tested for a second time.

In April 2006, when Clodagh Enright was only four years of age, when her mother Eileen noticed that she was experiencing difficulty speaking. Concerned for her daughter, she sought medical advice. She contacted the local health nurse responsible for speech and language. The nurse referred Clodagh to the audiology department of her local hospital to have her hearing checked.

The initial hearing test could not find any issues with Clodagh’s hearing. As her daughter was still experiencing difficulties, Eileen Enright persisted with her concerns. A second hearing test was arranged with different medical professionals in May 2007. This time, the test detected Clodagh had a significant hearing impediment.

Clodagh underwent a cochlear implant and had hearing aids fitted to help resolve the problem. Her parents claimed that, had the problem been identified in the first examination, Clodagh´s hearing impediment would not have deteriorated to such an extent before the second test was arranged.  Clodagh fell behind in her education due to her impediment, which her parents say was entirely avoidable.

On behalf of her daughter, Eileen made a claim for an avoidable deterioration of hearing against the Health Service Executive (HSE). An admission of liability was made by the HSE and a settlement of the claim negotiated amounting to €340,000.

As the claim for an avoidable deterioration of hearing had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a High Court judge before the claim could be resolved in order to ensure it was in the child’s best interests.

The case was heard in the High Court in Cork by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The judge was told the circumstances of Clodagh´s injury and the progress she had made in the intervening years. The judge approved the settlement, saying it was a good one in the circumstances, and ordered that it be paid into court funds until Clodagh reaches the age of eighteen.

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Missed Cancer Diagnosis Case Brought to High Court

A woman has taken the HSE to the High Court over a claim that early diagnosis of her breast cancer were missed during the “Breast Check” screenings held in her local clinic.

On the 25th November 2011, Eileen-a retired schoolteacher from Piltown, Kilkenny-underwent a routine breast examination as part of “Breast Check”, the National Breast Screening Programme. According to the medical professionals performing the check, Eileen had a clean bill of health and discharged her without suggesting that she seek further medical attention.

A year after this examination, Eileen visited her GP after feeling unwell. During a medical examination, the GP discovered that Eileen had a large mass on her breast. She was then sent to Waterford Regional Hospital for further testing. An ultrasound and biopsy were performed, and the results of which confirmed the diagnosis of a Grade 2 carcinoma.

Eileen was put on a course of chemotherapy as soon as the diagnosis was made. In spite of the efforts of the medical professionals, the cancer could not be treated. 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”, as the screening allegedly missed critical signs that Eileen was suffering from cancer. Eileen alleged that the treatment she underwent would not have been necessary had she been diagnosed with cancer a year earlier. However, the HSE denied that they were guilty of medical negligence.

Due to the contest of liability, the case proceeded to court. The case was heard at Dublin’s High Court by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. He informed of the details of the case by Eileen’s legal team, who 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 since the mastectomy, Judge Cross was told that her prognosis is “extremely serious and devastating”. The case will continue later this week.

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Compensation Awarded to Woman Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy due to Negligence Surrounding her Birth

A woman has been awarded compensation by the High Court for medical negligence surrounding her birth, which left her deprived of oxygen. She was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Shortly before her birth in October 1999, at the Mayo General Hospital, Mary Malee was suffering from foetal distress syndrome. As a result, she was delivered by emergency Caesarean section. Despite the urgency of the situation, there was a delay of nearly eighty minutes in carrying out the procedure. No consultant was available to assist the delivery in spite of the early signs of foetal distress. Mary was deprived of oxygen in utero, resulting in her suffering from brain damage. After subsequent medical examinations, Mary was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She is entirely dependant upon her wheelchair for mobility.

Maura Malee sought legal counsel to claim compensation for her daughter’s birth injuries. Acting on her daughter’s behalf, she 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 source one upon the diagnosis of an elevated foetal heart rate. She further claimed that delay in having a Caesarean section caused by this negligence lead to Mary’s brain damage.

The case was heard at the High Court at the beginning of 2014 by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. The judge approved an interim settlement of compensation worth €1.5 million. She then adjourned the case for two years such that a payment scheme could be established so the family could receive regular payments in the place of a lump sum.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”.

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Undiagnosed Haemorrhage Case Settled in High Court

The High Court of Dublin has awarded a settlement of compensation to a woman whose undiagnosed cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage left her severely brain damaged.

In June 2006, Paula Dundon, of Co. Kildare, attended Naas General Hospital after complaining of headaches, nausea and vomiting. Before the forty-two year-old mother of three was admitted to the hospital, she was given painkillers and had a CT scan performed on her brain.

The CT scan results failed to reveal anything wrong with Paula. However, Paula’s symptoms continued and worsened. Concerned, 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 to receive specialist treatment.

Paula underwent further medical examination by doctors at Beaumont Hospital. Paula’s injury was diagnosed as an intra-cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage. However, the delay in the diagnosis at Naas Hospital meant that Paula suffered extreme brain damage. She is now reliant on 24 hour care by her family and carers.

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. He alleged that the delay in diagnosing his wife’s injuries would have been avoided had the original scan resulted in a correct diagnosis of her condition.

The HSE disputed part of the claim for medical negligence, saying that they had adequately assessed Paula’s injury and the medical staff did the best that they could in the circumstances. However, they admitted that the diagnosis was not made within an adequate timeframe, and that her injuries were a result of the delay.

A €2.7 million settlement of compensation was negotiated between the parties. However, as Paula was not able to represent herself and only made the claim through her husband, the case needed to be heard in the High Court. 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.

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Failure to Treat Sepsis Leaves Man in Coma Since 2011

A man has been left in a coma since 2011 following hospital staff’s failure to adequately diagnose and treat his sepsis following an operation.

In 2011, Robert Bolton was admitted to hospital to have an operation on his oesophagus. The procedure on his oesophagus being determined a success, but Robert was kept hospital overnight under observation. The next morning, the seventy-one year-old retiree had a heart attack because of respiratory failure.

Robert’s condition continued to rapidly deteriorate in spite of being moved to the intensive care unit of the hospital. He was diagnosed with suffering from sepsis. As a consequence of this, Robert suffered from a hypoxic ischaemic brain injury. He was left in a comatose state, and has been since 2011. Robert has only had a few occasions of minimal consciousness.

Robert’s wife, Angela, sought legal counsel on behalf of her husband. She was concerned 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. The claim alleged that medical staff did not adequately diagnose Robert’s sepsis or adhere to the criteria of systemic inflammatory response.

Despite an admittance for partial liability regarding the substandard level of care Robert received at the facility, the hospital denied that Robert’s condition was entirely due to their own negligence. The case was scheduled to be heard in court. 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.

Negotiations ensued between the plaintiffs and the defendants, which lead to the determination of an interim settlement of compensation amounting to €550,000. Experts judged that this sum would pay for two years’ worth of the specialist care Robert now requires.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings at the High Court in Dublin. The judge heard of how the hospital’s alleged failings lead to the deterioration of Robert’s condition and how his comatose state has impacted his family.

Angela also read a statement to the court, in which she assured Judge Cross that no amount of money would compensate for what happened to her husband. However, 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.

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Incorrect Treatment of Throat Cancer Case to be Heard in High Court

The case of a man who had his larynx removed as a treatment of his throat cancer will be heard in the High Court, as he claims that no alternative treatment methods were properly discussed with him.

In July 2010, Kevin McMahon, then aged fifty-eight, sought medical attention from his General Practitioner’s after suffering from a sore throat. After initial medical investigation, he was referred to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital to receive specialist attention. There, Kevin-originally from Roxboro, Co. Limerick, had doctors examined his throat. They noticed a lesion and proceeded to take a biopsy.

After initial concerns that Kevin could have cancer, an appointment was made for that October to have a second biopsy of the lesion. However, that appointment was cancelled, and another one was not rescheduled until January 2011.

After the second biopsy was performed that January, Mr McMahon was diagnosed with cancer. He was informed that his case was urgent, and that he required immediate fourteen-hour operation to remove his larynx. Following the operation, he was rendered only able to communicate through an artificial voice box.

However, after the procedure to remove his larynx, Mr McMahon discovered that targeted radiotherapy was an alternative method of successfully 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.

The claim alleged that the medical professional who had diagnosed him with cancer failed to have open discussion with him concerning possible treatment. As such, the decision to undergo the operation that removed his larynx was made without adequate informed consent. He also claimed that the delay in having the second appointment, in which he was finally diagnosed with cancer and treatment started to be offered, allowed the cancer to develop further and cause preventable damage. This avoidable delay caused him emotional trauma.

Initially, the defendants-the HSE-denied any liability in Mr McMahon’s injuries. However, just before the claim was scheduled to be heard in Dublin’s High Court, they finally admitted liability. 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. The case is still ongoing.

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Open Disclosure Policy Being Widely Ignored in Hospitals Nationwide

The Irish Examiner have published an Opinion-Editorial Published has claimed that the open disclosure policy created for the Health Service Executive is unlikely to be applied nationwide in the foreseeable future.

The open disclosure policy dictates when the HSE should tell families when there are issues with the standard of healthcare provided to patients. The policy was created in November 2013, but still is largely not adhered to by hospitals. The open editorial-written by Catherine Shanahan-claimed that the policy is good on paper, but is very unlikely to be thoroughly enforced nationwide.

Shanahan used wrote about seven cases of medical negligence in detail to highlight her point. These cases occurred in 2015 and, and were widely covered by the media. According to Shanahan, they demonstrate how the HSE is frequently does not admit to negligence and denies liability for the injuries of those in its care. Therefore, patients and their families are forced to seek legal counsel and bring their cases to court if they want to learn the true story of the events they endured.

On of the cases in the open-editorial piece was that of Gil Russell. The case gained public attention because of the action with the Sates Claim Agency. She was born in 2006 with cerebral palsy because of negligence surrounding her birth. Her delivery was described as a “prolonged and totally chaotic”, and left her deprived of oxygen in utero. The HSE only issued an apology in 2012, six years after the incident occurred. At the same time, an interim settlement of compensation was awarded.

The Russell family were back in the High Court in 2014, after a final settlement of compensation was negotiated. They were 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. The case was then taken to the Supreme Court, which depriving Gill and her family of the settlement and financial support which they needed.

Other cases mentioned in the editorial included Skye Worthington and Katie Manton. Both of these cases had involved a similar negligence claim to Gill Russell, and their injuries were sustained in similar circumstances. Furthermore, like Gill, 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.

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HSE Admits Liability in Wrongful Death of Newborn

The HSE has admitted liability for the wrongful death of a newborn boy after an independent investigation found that medical staff at the Cavan General Hospital were guilty of several counts of medical negligence.

In November 2012, Fiona Watters was pregnant with her first baby. She she was admitted to the Cavan General Hospital on the 20th of that month after feeling a series of regular contractions. Her waters broke nearly two days later. In order to assist Fiona with labour, medical staff administered Prostaglandin, a commonly used drug.

Initially, the drug failed to assist Fiona. Therefore, as the day progressed, she was given higher and higher doses of the drug. That evening, an attempt was made at a natural delivery. After an hour of trying, the baby was no closer to being born. Concerned about the difficult birth, the midwives at the facility called Fiona’s consultant obstetrician, Dr Salah Aziz. They informed him that the baby was not yet visible. Furthermore, after a series of scans were taken 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 and therefore emergency surgery could not be performed on Fiona. He tried both a forceps and vacuum delivery to no avail. When the operating theatre eventually became available, Mr Aziz performed an emergency Caesarean section on Fiona. 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, for specialist treatment. In spite of the best attempts of medical staff, he died just two days later in his mother’s arms. An investigation ensued looking into the circumstances of Jamie’s death. This initial investigation was stopped by the High Court in 2013 when Dr Aziz pointed out that the investigators appointed by the HSE were not following proper procedures for investigating the case.

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 defendants denied all liability for Jamie’s death for a year after the claim was made. They ordered another investigation to be carried out to attribute liability. This team was composed of an independent review team, as there were two more deaths of children at the Cavan General Hospital since Jamie’s birth.

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.

The State Claims Agency and Jamie’s parent’s legal teams began negotiations 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. The case was heard in the High Court in Dublin by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys, who approved the settlement.

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Family Compensated for Wrongful Death due to Meningitis Misdiagnosis

The family of a man who died in hospital due to his meningitis being misdiagnosed by medical staff attending him have been awarded compensation for his wrongful death.

In May 2010, Philip Morrissey, aged thirty-nine, visited his GP to seek medical attention for a high temperature, a headache and a pain in his ear. After an initial medical check, the doctor referred him to the Accident and Emergency Department of Kilkenny’s St Luke’s Hospital. He was admitted to the hospital suffering from the aforementioned conditions, but also with a high pulse and an increasing intolerance to light.

Mrs Gail Morrissey raised her concerns with the attending staff that her husband was drowsy and disoriented several hours after he was initially admitted to the hospital. The staff informed her that her husband was suffering from constipation, and that she need not be concerned.

However,  Mr Morrissey was found dead in his room the morning after being admitted to hospital. A post-mortem revealed that he had suffered a cardiac arrest during the night. The heart attack was later attributed to him suffering from streptococcal pneumonia meningitis. The symptoms he had been suffering the day before are in line with what would be expected in an individual suffering from this ailment.

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 was launched to assess the circumstances of Mr Morrissey’s death ensued. After the results were published, the HSE admitted liability. The two legal teams 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.

The case was heard in the High Court by Mr Justice Michael Hanna. The judge was presented with details of Mr Morrissey’s illness and subsequent death. A statement was read to the Morrissey family by a representative of the HSE, apologising for his wrongful death. 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.

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Case of Wrongful Death due to Organ Failure to be Brought to Court

The case of a woman who suffered a wrongful death due to a missed diagnosis of organ failure will be brought to the courts as her family seeks compensation.

In July 2013, Susan McGee, aged fifty-two was admitted to the Hermitage Medical Clinic for a routine operation to treat a hernia. The surgery was initially deemed successful and Susan was discharged from hospital a few days later. Susan, originally from Rush, Co. Dublin, left hospital to return to the care of one of her two children.  

The day after she was discharged with a clean bill of health, Susan began to  experience pains in her abdomen and was generally feeling unwell. Concerned for her mother’s wellbeing, her daughter brought her back to the Hermitage. Susan was admitted for observation by medical staff. A CAT scan conducted shortly after she was admitted.  The results of the scan revealed that Susan had a small mass in her bowel.

Susan immediately underwent emergency surgery to remove the mass. In spite of this treatment, Susan’s condition continued to deteriorate rapidly. The next day, she was transferred to an intensive care unit in Beaumont Hospital for specialist treatment. In spite of the care that she received, she died a day later from multiple organ failure and sepsis. Later investigation revealed that the sepsis was a result of a Clostridium difficile infection. 

In June 2015, an inquest was carried out into Susan’s death by independent medical professionals. 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. The staff at the hospital also neglected to record Susan’s vital signs 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 who had eighty-one patients under his care at the time. 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 was vastly overstretched by the number of patients in his care.

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. 

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Value of Compensation Settlements for Personal Injury Claims Increase by Over a Third

The value of settlements of compensation awarded to victims of personal injuries has increased by over a third between 2013 and 2014, rising from €227,000 to €304,000.

An analyst at Davy Stockbrokers, Emer Lang, was among the first to notice that there was an increase of nearly 34% in the number of compensation settlements awarded by the High Court in 2014. She noticed the increase while collecting data from the Courts Service Annual Report.

In 2014, a total of €155 million in compensation was given out in 509 personal injury claims. This worked out to be an average of €304,000 per claim. In compassion, the average claim was only €227,000 in 2013. This works out to be an increase of 34% between the two twelve month periods. However, in spite of the average value of a claim increasing massively, the average value for assessments that were conducted by the Injuries Board did not increase between the two years. It remained roughly constant, at €22,600.

Consultants from across the insurance industry have reported their shock at the new figures. An AA Ireland representative, Conor Faughnan, commented that the judges dealing with these claims needed to be trained to help them gain an understanding of how compensation really works. He claims that they perhaps don’t understand that the settlements of compensation that they award is ultimately paid for the country’s two million drivers by increasing insurance premiums.

However, others blamed recent changes to the Courts and Civil Law Act in 2013. The new legislation states that any case that was expected to settle for over €60,000 had to be heard in the High Court. Before the new act, a case was supposed to be expected to exceed €38,092 for the case to progress to the High Court. 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.”

Mr Justice Bernard Barton-of the High Court-does not agree. Last year, he publicly 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]”.

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Settlement of Compensation Awarded for Mismanaged Birth Case

The High Court has awarded a settlement of compensation of €1.75 million to the family of a baby who was left severely disabled due to his mismanaged birth.

On the 6th September 1996, Thomas was born to Ann O’Connor at the Sligo General Hospital. As a CTG trace showed obvious indications of an elevated foetal heart rate, he was diagnosed with foetal distress in utero and his mother was scheduled to have an emergency Caesarean section. In spite of this intervention by medical staff, when he was not breathing when he was born. He was eventually resuscitated using a breathing tube, and was brought to intensive care. However, he suffered a heart attack while on the way to the intensive care unit.

Due to being starved of oxygen twice, Thomas suffered from severe brain damage. He became blind, and is unable to feed himself. He was later diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic. He is reliant on 24 hour care, and lives in a residential care home in Sligo.

Ann O’Connor, on her son’s behalf, sought legal counsel. She then made the claim against the Sligo General Hospital. In the claim for birth negligence compensation, Ann alleges that the delivery of Thomas and his subsequent resuscitation was negligent. She states there were unnecessary delays of up to four hours in Thomas’ delivery. She also alleges that she was informed by an independent medical professional that the heart attack that Thomas suffered whilst on his way to the ICU was a direct result of medical staff inserting the resuscitation tube too deeply into Thomas’ throat. Therefore, the staff in charge of his birth were acting in a negligent fashion.

The allegations of birth injury negligence were denied by the Health Service Executives. They further disputed Ann’s 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 the CTG trace which showed foetal distress had been discontinued the morning of Thomas’ delivery unnecessarily.  Additionally, they said that the resuscitation tube should have been inserted at a depth of 9-10 cm, but instead was put in at 14 cm. This was likely to be a direct cause of Thomas’s heart attack.

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, stating that the money will be used to pay for Thomas’ care in his residential home. He commented on his delight that the ordeal of claiming compensation was complete for Thomas’ family, and wished them well for the future.

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Parents Criticise State Claims Agency on Handling of Daughter’s Court Case

The parents of a girl who was born with severe disabilities due to medical negligence have criticised the State Claims Agency for the insensitive manner in which they handled their daughter’s case.

In April 2005, Alex Butler was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital. Due to an avoidable 10 minute delay in her birth, she was born “blue and lifeless”. The doctor who was substituting for Alex’s mother’s regular obstetrician had failed to diagnose that there were complications in Alex’s birth and signs of foetal distress. As a result, Alex was starved of oxygen in the womb.

Her brain sustained severe and irreversible damage due to being deprived of oxygen. In spite of her injuries, Alex is described as possessing a “bright personality with a huge intelligence”. In addition to her brain damage, she is also tetraplegic and her mobility is dependant upon a wheelchair. She will need constant care and attention for the rest of her life. 

Her parents sought the advice of a solicitor to claim compensation for their daughter’s birth injuries.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, stating that the unnecessary delay in her birth was the cause of her injuries. Their legal representatives negotiated with the family to organise an interim settlement of compensation in 2013.  It was hoped that  structured settlement of periodic payments would be introduced by the government shortly after the interim settlement was made.

The case was adjourned for two years for such structured periodic payments to be created. However, the government has failed to create the required legislation for such a scheme. Therefore, a lump sum needed to be negotiated.  As the case involved a minor, it was brought to the High Court, where their case was overseen by Mr Justice Anthony Barr. 

An apology was read to the Butler family by a spokesperson representing Waterford Regional Hospital. As the hearing proceeded, the judge heard that the parties could not agree as to how much compensation Alex was entitled to due to her severity of disabilities, and her requirement of constant care and medical attention. 

The parties continued to negotiate the settlement for eighteen days after the initial hearing. A €9 million settlement of compensation was eventually agreed upon. The settlement was approved by Judge Barr in the High Court on Alex’s behalf. The judge commented that the settlement was both reasonable and fair. 

Speaking to the press after the hearing, Alex’s parents expressed their disdain with how the case was handled. 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.”

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Woman Receives Compensation for Inadequate Neonatal Care

A woman has received a six-figure settlement of compensation for inadequate neonatal care which left her suffering from depression and a bacterial infection.

In December 2012, Claire Lalor, from Swords in Co. Dublin, was admitted to the National Maternity Hospital to give birth to her baby. The birth proceeded without incident, and Claire was discharged three days later. In spite of the initial clean bill of health, Claire returned twice within the next two weeks to seek medical attention. She was experiencing pain in her lower abdomen and had a malodorous vagina. 

However, on neither visit resulted in Claire having an internal examination.  On her second, medical staff suspected that her symptoms may be due to a bacterial infection, and she was prescribed antibiotics. However, the smell became worse and Claire continued to experience severe pain in the region. In January she returned to the hospital and was eventually internally examined. Medical staff discovered that a vaginal swab had been left inside Claire after her labour, and was the cause of her pain. The swab was subsequently removed.

Claire continued to feel pain and discomfort even after the swab was removed. She returned to hospital later that January, when she was discharged after a diagnosis of post-natal depression. Claire’s condition began to grow worse, and she started to suffer from sweating, chills and diarrhoea. 

Claire attended Beaumont Hospital to seek further medical attention. After an initial medical investigation, she was diagnosed with a Clostridium difficile infection. It was determined that this was contracted as a result of the incorrect initial diagnosis of an infection. 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. 

National Maternity Hospital admitted liability for Claire’s physical injuries. However, they disputed their liability for Claire’s emotional suffering. They argued that her symptoms could all be attributed to post-natal depression, rather than the trauma of the forgotten swab, and thus they were not liable. There was no agreement over the amount of compensation to which Claire was entitled. Due to the contest of liability, the case proceeded to the High Court of Dublin for an assessment of damages. 

The case was heard in the High Court by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The judge 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 also stated had Claire received adequate post-natal care, it is highly likely that her recovery from post-natal depression have been much more swift. He also agreed 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. 

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High Court Judges Call for Structured Payment Scheme for Compensation Settlements

Many High Court judges have called for the government to introduce a structured payment scheme for compensation settlements to catastrophically injured patients.

For several years now, many prominent High Court judges have made statements to the government expressing the need for legislation to enable structured payment systems for hospital negligence compensation settlements. They claim that the current system of lump sum payments is cumbersome, and failing the victims of negligence and their families. The judges-including Mr Justice John Quirke, Ms Justice Mary Irvine, and Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill-liken the way such claims are settled at the moment to a “lottery”, or a gamble on the basis of the anticipated life expectancy of a seriously injured victim.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton has recently spoken in favour of the movement with his fellow judges. His statement came while he was presiding over the O’Neill vs National Maternity Hospital. The case involved a young girl who suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of negligence by the hospital staff in charge of her birth in 2007. The defendants admit liability for her injuries. However, there is a disagreement as to how the compensation shall be paid; the defendants want to make interim settlements, but the mother of the young girl wants to a full settlement to be offered. Furthermore, neither party can agree to how much compensation the girl should be awarded.

There is considerable disagreement between the two parties as to the full cost of the girl’s future needs, and the potential loss of earnings of the family members charged with caring for her.  They argue that by offering an interim settlement, an investigation can be made over the next decade so that her needs can be assessed. Then, they would compile a report and the value of compensation calculated. However, her mother declined this manner of settlement. She claims that the frequent disruptions to her daughter’s life may cause psychological damage, and she wants her to live as normal a life as possible.

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. The aforementioned judges have all used cases like this in the past to highlight the importance of structured settlements. The government has yet to act on their suggestions.

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HSE Admits Liability for Inadequate Treatment of Meningitis

The HSE has admitted liability for the case of inadequate treatment of meningitis in a young boy who was left paralysed due to the negligence.

In March 2004, Matthew McGrath was just seventeen months old when he was admitted to Wexford General Hospital. His parents brought him to hospital when he started displaying symptoms such as vomiting and drowsiness. After initial medical examination, he was diagnosed with Haemophilus Influenza Type B. This is an established precursor to meningitis, and as such, Matthew should have been given antibiotics. However, these were never offered to him.

Matthew was kept in hospital overnight under observation. His condition severely deteriorated. He then went into shock, and in spite of the medical guidelines advising against it, a lumbar puncture was performed by medical staff at the facility. This provided evidence that Matthew did indeed have meningitis. However, in spite of medical intervention, Matthew is now permanently paralysed due to compression of his spinal cord.

Matthew cannot move any of his limbs and is reliant on a ventilator to breathe. He spent the next two years in hospital, until his parents finally were able to take him home from hospital and take him into their full-time care.

Cathy McGrath sought legal counsel, and made a claim for compensation on her son’s behalf. In the claim, it was alleged that due to the failure in care-both for the lack of antibiotics and the inappropriate lumbar puncture-Matthew was left severely disabled. They argued had Matthew received adequate treatment upon his admission to Wexford General Hospital, he would not be much healthier than he is now.

An investigation launched into the incident. After the results were issued in a report, the HSE admitted liability for the negligence of medical staff at the facility. After issuing an apology, an interim compensation settlement of €3.7 million was agreed upon by the two parties. As Matthew is a minor, it first needed to be approved by a judge to ensure it is in his best interests.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard the case at the High Court in Dublin. 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.

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Judge Rules in Favour of Young Girl in Missed Diagnosis of Hydrocephalus Case

A judge has ruled in favour of a young girl who has been left severely disabled after her hydrocephalus was left untreated for many months after a missed diagnosis by a public health nurse.

In April 2008, three-month old Ava Kiernan was displaying symptoms of hydrocephalus. The disease-commonly known as “water on the brain” is caused by spinal fluid collecting in the skull as a result of it not draining from the brain. A common symptom in young children is a sudden increase in the circumference of head, or for bulges to appear lower at the base of the skull.

Concerned for her daughter’s wellbeing, Ruth Kiernan brought her to seek medical attention. She was first seen by a public health nurse, who did not diagnose anything wrong with Ava, and failed to arrange a follow-up consultation for her. However, in September that year, Ruth brought Ava back to hospital, still concerned by her daughter’s symptoms. Her skull was measured, but the procedure 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, and is heavily reliant on her parents.

On her daughter’s behalf, Ruth Kiernan sought legal advice.  She made a hydrocephalus brain injury claim for compensation against the HSE. The claim argued that had consultation been organised after the original visit, the rapid change in the size of the young girl’s head would have been identified and thus treated. Furthermore, had subsequent measurements been made correctly, further damage could have been avoided.

The HSE denied any negligence by their staff and rejected liability.  The case was then brought to the High Court to resolve the dispute in liability. The case was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who ruled in Ava’s favour after three weeks. 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. He further stated that he hoped for a structured payment system to be put in place by the government such that a lump sum payment could be avoided.

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Erb’s Palsy Due to Birth Negligence Case Resolved in High Court

The case of a teenager who suffers from Erb’s palsy due to medical negligence surrounding her court has been resolved in the High Court.

In January 2004, Keelan Murray was born at the National Maternity Hospital. Shortly after her birth, she was diagnosed with shoulder dystocia. This is a condition that occurs when the infant’s shoulders fail to clear the mother’s pubis symphsis during birth. It frequently leads to damage of the brachial plexus nerve if excessive force is used to free the baby. In some cases, the conditions heals over time. However, Keelan’s injury remained permanent. She now suffers from Erb’s palsy.

Keelan, who lives in Newtownmountkennedy in Co. Wicklow, has never gained motor control over her right arm. Only her left arm is functional for performing even basic tasks. She has also been forced to learn how to write with her left hand, despite being right handed. Medical professionals attempted to fix the injury in 2012 via surgery, but it was unsuccessful and the damage remains permanent.

Sharon, Keelan’s mother, sought legal counsel on behalf of her daughter. She made a claim for compensation for the birth injury against the National Maternity Hospital. The claim alleges that in spite of the diagnosis of dystocia, excess force was used to free Keelan of the birth canal.

The hospital denied any liability for Keelan’s injuries. In spite of the denial of liability, they offered a sum of compensation. After much negotiation between the parties, a settlement of €250,000 was agreed upon without an admission of liability.

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 to ensure that it was in Keelan’s best interests. 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.

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Medical Protection Society Releases New Set of Proposals for Protocol Change

The Medical Protection Society in Ireland has released a new set of proposals with the aim of reducing the cost of making a medical negligence claim in Ireland by changing existing protocol.

The Medical Protection Society is a non-profit organisation which seeks to  provide legal assistance to those working in the medical sector. Recently, it has brought forward proposals for “pre-trial protocols” which aim to lower the costs of hospital negligence claims for all those involved. Currently, bringing legal action against the Health Service Executive (HSE) incurs very high costs, a problem that the Medical Protection Society is keen to fix.

The primary goal of the new set of proposals is to make communication between the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s legal teams easier by promoting openness and transparency on both sides. Furthermore, they want to provide an opportunity for each negligence claim made against the hospital to be investigated before litigation is even necessary, with a chance that the claim may even be revoked or resolved.

It is hoped that adversarial processes will be left out due to the improved dialogue between sides, which in turn should lower the costs of medical negligence claims in hospitals across Ireland. 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.

The MPS’s Director of Claims-Emma Hallinan-has suggested 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.”

A tariff of general damages would be introduced if the MPS is successful. This is comparable to the Judicial College’s “Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases” in the UK. This would act as a scale of compensation awards for specific physical injuries caused by hospital negligence, covering a wide range of common injuries 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 income and expenses would still require negotiation between parties to resolve. Medical and legal experts who have read the MPS proposals thus far have widely commended them, stating that they are heading in the right direction to lower the costs of making such hospital negligence claims in Ireland.

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RTE Documentary Reveals “Sickening” Abuse at Care Home

An RTÉ documentary about the “sickening” abuse of residents at care home has recently been aired.

A recently aired RTÉ documentary entitled “Inside Bungalow Three” has revealed serious cases of care home negligence at a home for intellectually disabled people. The programme showed scenes of care workers at Áras Attracta care home in Swinford, County Mayo subjecting the patients under their care to physical and psychological abuse. The footage was filmed by an undercover reporter. A former employee of the centre alerted RTÉ to the negligence they witnessed. The former employee-who prefers to remain anonymous-claims that their concerns to upper management had been disregarded.

The undercover reporter had posed as a work experience student to gain access to the facility. They were placed in “Bungalow Three”, which acted as  a home to three intellectually disabled women. She witnessed the shocking treatment of the residents, which included slapping, kicking and force-feeding. The documentary shows one resident is denied use of the bathroom, while another resident-a 75-year-old woman-is kept seated in the same position for six hours.

The care home negligence broadcast in the documentary attracted widespread attention. Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the abuse shown in the documentary as “sickening”, while Tony O´Brien – the Director General of the HSE – commented that the level of care was totally unacceptable and fell well below “the standards that we expect in the health services”.

Minister of State at the Department of Health, Kathleen Lynch, has publicly stated that she refused to believe that “Áras Attracta is the only place where this is happening”. Lorraine Dempsey from the Special Needs Parents Association added “Absolute responsibility in any setting goes right up to the top level of management, and in this case we are talking about the HSE”.

The HSE has launched two investigations into the care home negligence at Áras Attracta. The first investigation is focusing on the specific mistreatment of residents portrayed in the documentary and the second on the care home for the intellectually disabled in general. The Gardaí and the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) have also launched their own investigations into potential criminal activity.

Tony O´Brien apologised to the residents and their families on behalf of the HSE for the care home negligence. He said that the HSE did not wish to “pre-empt the findings of an independent investigation” but that the HSE has taken immediate actions to “guarantee that a safe and caring environment exists for the residents of Bungalow Three”. Since the documentary has been aired, nine staff have been suspended while the investigations into the care home negligence are conducted.

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Symphysiotomy Compensation Scheme Introduced by Government

The government has announced a scheme for women to claim compensation for a symphysiotomy procedures that was conducted between the 1940s and the 1980s without their adequate consent.

Previously, the government had stated that they had plans to create a window in the Statute of Limitations. They have since abandoned that plan in favour of a new scheme has been announced to enable the estimated 350 survivors of childbirth symphysiotomies and pubiotomies to claim compensation for a symphysiotomy.

Solicitors advised the government that opening a window in the Statute of Limitations would set a legal precedent which could be considered unlawful, and therefore the government abandoned that plan. The new scheme consists of payments based on consequences of undergoing the procedure. There are three tiers of compensation offered to women under the scheme:

• Women who had a symphysiotomy but did not suffer any serious long term consequences will be entitled to €50,000 compensation.

• Women who suffered a quantifiable injury as the result of a symphysiotomy procedure will receive €100,000 compensation.

• Women who gave birth by Caesarean Section and then underwent a symphysiotomy will get €150,000 compensation.

The government has appointed Maureen Harding-Clark-a former High Court Judge-to assess each application for compensation. They further granted her the authority to extend the December 5th deadline for applications by a further 20 working days in exceptional circumstances.

Once an application has been assessed and an offer of compensation made, survivors have twenty days in which to accept the assessment. Under the terms of the scheme, the plaintiff must withdraw any claim for compensation for a symphysiotomy currently going through the High Court in order to receive the payment. However, if they are dissatisfied with the level of compensation offered to them, they are free to make an appeal.

Marie O’Connor – chairwoman of Survivors of Symphysiotomy group – has criticised the scheme for its short time limit and said that it makes it “impossible for women to seek independent advice and to make a considered decision” within the time allowed. Therefore, the chance of any women appealing their case instead of accepting the offer very small. Currently, more than 150 High Court actions are in progress, with dates for two hearings already set.

There has also been criticism of the scheme from Mark Kelly – the Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. Mr Kelly believes that the scheme falls short of what is required under Ireland´s human rights obligations on two counts – that it does not allow the victims to claim compensation for a symphysiotomy on an individual basis, and because the state has made no admission of liability.

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