Home / Hospital Negligence (page 2)

Hospital Negligence

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

High Court Judge Approves Interim Settlement of Compensation

A High Court judge has approved an interim settlement of compensation offered to a young boy suffering from cerebral palsy.

In January 2010, Dylan Kenny was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital. Due to the negligence of medical staff managing his birth, Dylan was left deprived of oxygen in the womb. He was born with severe disabilities, and   subsequently suffers from cerebral palsy. He is unable to walk without aid, and has difficulty expressing himself verbally. He will remain reliant on care from his parents for the rest of his life.

On behalf of their son, Claire O´Brien and Lloyd Kenny sought legal counsel. They made a claim for birth injuries due to hospital negligence against the hospital where their son was born. The claim alleged that there had been a failure to monitor the foetal heart rate during Claire´s labour, a failure to act on the results of a concerning CTG trace, and to react within a reasonable time to signs of foetal distress and hypoxia.

The family’s legal team claimed that, had Dylan been delivered earlier, his birth injuries would not have been so severe. In June, the Health Service Executive (HSE) acknowledged that mistakes had been made in the management of Claire´s labour, admitted liability for Dylan´s brain injuries and issued an apology. As the case was made on behalf of a child, it needed to be heard at the High Court to ensure that any offer of compensation made was in the child’s best interests.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice John Cook asked to approve a €2 million interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to hospital negligence. Judge Cook heard that the interim settlement was to provide care for Dylan for a period of three years to allow for his future needs to be assessed and for the possible introduction of a structured compensation scheme.

After hearing that Dylan´s parents were happy with the interim payment, and preferred it to the lump sum payment proposed by the HSE and State Claims Agency, Judge Cook approved the settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to hospital negligence. He wished the family well, and expressed hope that a structured payment scheme would be introduced soon.

Read More »

Women Receives Permission to Pursue Case in Court

A woman has received permission from a High Court judge to pursue her case for compensation for medication side effects in court.

Lorna Savage (now forty-three years of age) of Cobh, County Cork, has been granted with permission by a High Court judge to pursue her claim for compensation for medication side effects. The claim is being made against the manufacturer of the medication, Pfizer. The drug company had applied to the courts for Ms Savage’s case to be dismissed, citing that too much time had passed since the claim was first filed against them.

The case was heard by Mr Justice George Birmingham. The judge was informed that Lorna was first prescribed the steroid Deltacortril in 1997 to treat the skin disorder vasculitis. This is a condition which in which damaged blood vessels cluster together and cause an irritable rash on the surface of the skin.

Lorna claims that after a few years of taking the steroid, her condition deteriorated due to her developing Avascular Necrosis. This disease prevents blood from reaching the bones of the knee and hip joints. This lack of blood causes the bone tissue in these areas to die. This eventually results in the knee and hip bones collapsing entirely, severely limiting the mobility of the sufferer. Furthermore, it has been established as a rare side effect to the steroid Deltacortril.

Lorna had both of her knees and one of her hips replaced nearly four years after being prescribed the steroid.  The Avascular Necrosis is so severe she is now entirely reliant on a wheelchair to move. She claims that she is in a perpetual state of discomfort, and is reliant on morphine to manage the pain.

Lorna sought legal counsel, and made a claim for medication side effects against the two doctors who had prescribed her the drug-GP Dr Michael Madigan and her consultant doctor at the Cork University Hospital-Dr M Molloy. Lorna also made a further claim for medication side effects compensation against the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. All of the defendants denied liability for her injuries. Pfizer applied to have Lorna’s claim dismissed on the grounds of “an inordinate and inexcusable delay” in bringing her case to court.

Dr Madigan’s died in 1999, so the claim was made against his estate. Lorna claimed that he had failed to fully investigate her skin condition. Furthermore, she stated that he had been negligent to her health in prescribing her Deltacortril as he should have been aware of all potential side effects. In her claim against Dr Molloy, Lorna claimed that he had been negligent in recognising the symptoms of Avascular Necrosis.

In Lorna’s claim against Pfizer,  she alleged that he company did not provide a warning with their medication that their use could case Avascular Necrosis, and had not advised against the consumption of alcohol while taking the tablets.

At court, the judge was informed that the cause of the delay was due to Lorna being unable to instruct her solicitors as she had undergone a total of seven major operations. Mr Justice George Birmingham ruled the delay “excusable”, and denied Pfizer’s application to dismiss the case. The case was listed for a full hearing later in the year.

Read More »

Department of Social Protection Launches Scheme to Reclaim Benefits

A new Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme has been launched by the Department of Social Protection to reclaim benefits.

The Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme was introduced on the August 1st.  The Department of Social Protection (DSP) initiative was created to help the DSP  to recover welfare benefits paid to plaintiffs in cases where the benefits relate directly to their claim.

Under the new scheme, if a settlement of compensation has been agreed  to by the plaintiff (and approved by a judge if necessary), the negligent party´s insurance company (or State Claims Agency) will have to apply to the DSP for a statement showing how much welfare payments have been received by the injured plaintiff over the previous five years.

The insurance company/State Claims Agency will then deduct the amount of the welfare payments from settlements of medical negligence compensation, send the repayment of the benefits to the DSP. The remainder of the compensation settlement will then be sent to the plaintiff when a certificate of payment has been received.

Plaintiffs looking for medical negligence compensation often face significant and debilitating delays. The DSP is allowed up to four weeks to send the insurance company/State Claims Agency the statement of benefits. After this, the insurance company/State Claims Agency must submit the repayment of welfare benefits to the Department and wait for a certificate of repayment to be returned.

The balance of the compensation settlement can only be sent to the injured plaintiff when a certificate of payment has been received. Depending on the efficiency of the DSP, the insurance company and the State Claims Agency, settlements of medical negligence compensation could be delayed by up to three months.

The DSP has released a list of allowances which are subject to the new rules, including:

• Invalidity Pension

• Disability Allowance

• Illness Benefit

• Injury Benefit

• Partial Capacity Benefit

• Incapacity Supplement

Injured persons considering making a claim for compensation should note that the receipt of welfare benefits does not disqualify you from claiming medical negligence compensation.

Plaintiffs waiting for settlements of medical negligence compensation should also be aware that the repayment of any welfare benefits you may have received is not your responsibility.

If you have any questions about the new procedures relating to settlements of medical negligence compensation, how to check any welfare deductions are accurate, and what to do if you believe they are wrong, please consult with a medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible.

Read More »

Judge Calls for System of Periodic Payments in Cerebral Palsy Case

A High Court judge has apologised to the family of a young boy suffering from cerebral palsy for the lack of a system of periodic payments being made available to the family.

Luke Miggin (now eight years of age) from Athboy in County Meath was born on 26th February 2006 at the Mullingar General Hospital. Medical staff had failed to act on scans which showed that he had a decelerating foetal heart rate, and as such, he was deprived of oxygen in the womb. Luke had to be resuscitated immediately after he was born, and was transferred to an intensive care unit for special neonatal care. Luke was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He has limited motor skills, and is reliant on twenty-four hour care from his parents.

Through his mother – Emily – Luke made a claim for cerebral palsy compensation on the grounds that his mother´s consultant obstetrician – Michael Gannon – had failed to act on CTG traces taken throughout the day, which indicated a deceleration of the foetal heart rate. Had the obstetrician acted with adequate care, Luke never would have been deprived of oxygen and thus would not have suffered the injuries that he does to this day.

In 2010, the defendants admitted their liability for Luke´s birth injuries. The two legal teams negotiated an interim settlement of compensation. As Luke was a minor at the time, the compensation needed to be approved by a judge in the High Court to ensure that it was in his best interests. In January 2011 the interim compensation payment for cerebral palsy amounting to €1.35 million was approved by Mr Justice John Quirke.

Luke´s case was adjourned for three years in the hopes that structured settlement system to be introduced.  In spite of the promises of several ministers, a system of periodic payments is still not available. Therefore,  Emily Miggin returned to the High Court to have a second interim compensation payment for cerebral palsy approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

Judge Irvine apologised to Emily for successive Justice Ministers who had failed to keep their promises to introduce a system of periodic payments, and said that ongoing litigation was preventing her family from getting on their lives.The judge approved a further €580,000 interim compensation payment for cerebral palsy and adjourned Luke´s case for a further three years. It is hoped that the system of periodic payments will be set up in this time.

Read More »

Judge Approves MDU’s Request to Withdraw From Surgical Compensation Case

A High Court Judge has approved the Medical Defence Union’s request to withdraw from a surgical compensation case being made against a surgeon who died earlier this year.

Cosmetic surgeon Mr Samy Malhas was the defendant in two cosmetic surgery compensation claims when he died earlier this year in Germany. His death came shortly after having been declared bankrupt. Following the death of Mr Malhas, the High Court has allowed the Medical Defence Union (MDU) to withdraw the claims made by the two plaintiffs.

One of the claimants, Mary Jo Moloney, alleged that her breast augmentation surgery had left her with hypersensitivity, scarring and a distortion of her breast shape. The other claimant, Deidre Shortt, claimed she was the victim of a negligent rhinoplasty procedure. The two plaintiffs were treated by the name surgeon, but at different clinics in Dublin.

Before his death, the defendant denied both claims. He requested legal representation through the Medical Defence Union (MDU). The MDU had consented, but following Mr Malhas´ death, made an application to the courts to “come off record” and withdraw from the case. The application to withdraw their cases was contested by both Mary Jo Moloney and Deidre Shortt,

Mr Justice George Birmingham heard the case at the High Court. He allowed the application, despite acknowledging that this would place the success of the two cosmetic surgery compensation claims in doubt.

The Advanced Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in Dublin – at which Mary Jo underwent her breast enlargement procedure in November 2003  – is now in liquidation and has no insurance policy against which to claim. The Cosmedico Clinic in Dublin, where Deidre underwent her rhinoplasty procedure in August 2007, is still in business. However, Deidre´s claim could still face difficulties.

Mr Justice George Birmingham made it a condition of the MDU´s withdrawal from the cosmetic surgery compensation claims that the two plaintiffs were refunded the legal costs they have incurred to date. They now must follow through with alternative legal action if they still want to make a claim for compensation for their allegedly negligent procedures.

Read More »

Family Receive Compensation From HSE in Death Due to Missed Diagnosis of Cancer Case

The family of a young woman who died due to a missed cancer diagnosis has received compensation from the HSE.

In April 2009, Sharon McEneaney (thirty-one years of age) of Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, died from a cancerous tumour that grew in her abdomen. She had been diagnosed with cancer nine months prior to her death, after it being misdiagnosed when she had sought earlier medical treatment.

Sharon first sought medical attention after experiencing intense pain in her lower abdomen. She attended the emergency department of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda eighteen months prior to her death, and was attended to by medical staff. The tumour that was growing in her abdomen was not found by medical staff.

The cancerous tumour grew for another nine months due to this missed diagnosis. Sharon continued to experience pain, and sought further medial attention. In June 2008, she underwent a biopsy due to the intervention for Dr Rory O’Hanlon, a former TD. By the time the tumour was recognised as cancerous, it had grown too large to be treated. Sharon died of the cancer the following year.

An investigation into Sharon’s death was launched by the Health Service Executive (HSE).The investigators complied a report of 38 recommendations to prevent future failures to diagnose cancer. In January 2012, Dr Etop Samson Akan was found guilty of a poor professional performance by the Medical Council of Ireland’s Fitness to Practise Committee for his treatment of Sharon.

The case was brought to the High Court where it was heard by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. The court heard the General Manager of the Louth & Meath Hospital Group-Margaret Swords read out an apology to Sharon’s family, admitting that the hospital had failed in their treatment of Sharon. The apology also stated that the hospital was making progress in making the changes required to prevent a similar incident from happening again. The court heard in the five years following Sharon’s death, the hospital had implemented six of the HSE’s recommendations.

The HSE made an offer of compensation to Sharon’s family for their failure to diagnose cancer. The two legal teams entered negotiations, and the offer of compensation was valued at €62,500. Sharon’s funeral and other expenses related to her death have been covered by €10,000 settlement, and a further €27,100 in compensation has been awarded for the failure to diagnose the cancer to Sharon’s mother Jane. The remainder of the settlement is being shared between Sharon’s siblings.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine closed the hearing after commending Sharon´s family for their courage, and commented “You have shown marvellous fortitude in the face of such a loss”.

Read More »

Teenager Receives Interim Compensation Settlement in Birth Injury Claim

A teenager girl has received an interim settlement of compensation for a birth injury claim she made against the HSE.

In October 1999, Mary Malee (now 14 years of age) was born at the Mayo General Hospital to Maura Malee of Swinford, Country Mayo. Following several hours of avoidable delay, Mary was born by emergency Caesarean section. Two days prior to Mary´s birth, her mother had attended the consultant who had delivered her three previous children. There, she was informed that he was about to start treatment for cancer. Therefore, he would be unavailable for Mary´s delivery himself.

The consultant advised Maura that arrangements would be made for another consultant to be present at the birth. The following day, Maura attended her GP, feeling unwell. The GP advised to go to hospital immediately as she was displaying symptoms of pre-eclampsia, and the health of her baby was in danger.

On arrival at Mayo General Hospital, Maura was transferred to the labour ward, where she underwent a CTG shortly before 6:00am. This scan revealed a series of foetal heartbeat deceleration, showing that Mary was in distress int he womb. The first consultant that was contacted was unavailable and a second consultant arrived shortly before 7:00am.

Maura alleges that delay in communicating the foetal distress in the womb to the new consultant. Despite the danger to Mary, the Caesarean procedure did not get underway until after 7:20am. Due to the delay, Mary suffered from a lack of oxygen and was born severely brain damaged. She was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Through her early years, Mary has been able to attend mainstream school and, despite being confined to a wheelchair, hopes to attend university when she grows older. She is currently reliant on her parents for care and aid in performing many tasks. Aware that this arrangement could not last forever, Maura Malee made a claim for compensation for delayed birth cerebral palsy on behalf of her daughter against the Mayo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In the claim for delayed birth cerebral palsy compensation it was alleged that there had been a failure to intervene and initiate a Caesarean delivery in a timely manner, or to ensure that a paediatrician was present at Mary´s birth. It was known by medical staff at the facility that Mary was suffering from foetal distress, and that she was likely to require expert resuscitation

Both the Mayo General Hospital and the HSE denied their liability for Mary´s birth injuries. The case went to the High Court to be heard by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. In spite of their denial of liability, both parties agreed to an interim settlement of compensation for delayed birth cerebral palsy amounting €1.5 million. They further agreed to a future assessment of Mary´s needs within two years, hoping for the introduction of a structured compensation system.

In court, Mary read out a statement in which she remarked “It would have been appreciated had the HSE/Mayo General Hospital said they were sorry”, after which Judge Irvine approved the settlement of compensation for a delayed birth cerebral palsy and adjourned the hearing.

Read More »

Judge Adjourns Hearing In HIV Mix-Up Case

A judge has adjourned the hearing of a case in which a woman claims for psychological damages after she was incorrectly told that she had contracted HIV.

In August 2010, Michelle Kenny (35) of Crumlin, Dublin, just returned from a holiday in Majorca when she began to feel unwell. She sought medical attention at St James Hospital in Dublin. Medical staff at the facility performed an ECG scan, and had an x-ray of her chest taken in an attempt to diagnose some form of illness. Several blood samples were also taken for testing.

Michelle was admitted to hospital and remained there for a week, under observation. Medical staff believed that she may be suffering from having a blood clot in her lung. She was eventually discharged, but the result of a blood test for tuberculosis still had not returned. Michelle returned to Outpatients Clinic early the following month, where she underwent further blood tests, one of them testing for HIV.

A week after these tests were done, Michelle received a phone call from her doctor stating that although she was clear for TB, the HIV test that was completed came back as positive. Three further tests were taken, all of which indicated that a mistake had been made with the initial test, and Michelle did not in fact have HIV.

An investigation was launched into the incorrect diagnosis of HIV case, and it was revealed that the doctor at St James Hospital had given her the wrong person’s results. Michelle sought legal counsel, and made a claim for compensation for nervous shock against the hospital. She alleged that the news, albeit incorrect, had stopped her from socialising and caused a change in her lifestyle, having a hugely negative effect on her psychological wellbeing.

The defendants contested the claim, stating that Michelle had not suffered any loss or damages due to the mix-up. They argued that Michelle had quickly been informed of the mistake, and therefor was not entitled to any compensation for the mix-up. Michelle told the court, “I was devastated. I thought I was going to die, that I had no future.”

Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon heard the case, and stated that she would reserve judgement on the claim for test result mix-up compensation for a later date.

Read More »

Woman Receives Compensation for Post-Surgical Bleeding

A woman who experienced massive post-surgical bleeding following the delivery of her child has been awarded compensation by the High Court.

In January 2008, Honey Larkin of Letterkenny, County Donegal, brought a case against the Health Service Executive and her consultant gynaecologist Eddie Aboud for negligence surrounding the birth of her child at the Letterkenny General Hospital. Honey-forty two years-of-age-gave birth by emergency Caesarian section at the hospital. After the operation was complete, she experienced a massive internal haemorrhage. In spite of displaying symptoms of post-surgical bleeding, these were overlooked by medical staff in charge of the birth.

Honey lost more than half of her total volume of blood by the time she was returned to the operating theatre to attempt to stop the bleeding. Honey later described this as a “near-death” experience. Honey claims that she now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the incident, and now has a fear of medical procedures.

Honey further claims that neither her gynaecologist nor the other medical staff at the hospital checked on her following the surgery, and thus failed to recognise that she was bleeding after the initial surgery. When her distress was eventually responded to, there was a failure to attach due significance or act appropriately within a reasonable time.

Both of the defendants denied the claim, stating that Honey had been treated in an appropriate manner as soon as her post-surgical bleeding was recognised by medical staff. However, Honey continued with her claim for compensation. As their was a dispute over liabilty, the case was brought to the High Court.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings at the High Court. He was told that no bleeding had been apparent when Mr Aboud had finished the Caesarean Section operation. Mr Aboud said that when he was called back to attend to Honey´s post-surgical bleeding, he performed the operation successfully to stop the haemorrhage. Judge Cross said that no blame could be attributed to Mr Aboud and that charges against the consultant gynaecologist were dropped.

The judge did stated that the length of time that it had taken for medical staff to identify the bleeding and respond to Honey’s distress was inadequate, and must have caused Honey a great deal of distress. The judge awarded her €25,000 in compensation as a result of the hospital “needlessly” delaying Honey’s revision for surgery by more than an hour.

Read More »

HSE Apologises to Family in Wrongful Death Case

The HSE has apologised to the family of a woman who wrongfully died  of dehydration while in hospital.

In January 2010, Eileen Brady was referred to the Cavan General Hospital by her GP. She had been diagnosed with mouth ulcers which were a result of poor fluid intake. Eileen was admitted to hospital to receive emergency medical attention, but died a day later. An investigation was launched into the cause of her death, which revealed that her death was due organ failure. The cause of the organ failure was later attributed to dehydration.

An investigation was also launched into the circumstances surrounding Eileen’s death. Investigators reported that the treatment that Eileen had received for her dehydrated stated was ineffective in helping her, as her veins had collapsed due to the chemotherapy treatment that she was undergoing in a Dublin hospital to treat her stomach cancer.

It was also revealed that the death was entirely preventable had Eileen’s medical charts been examined more closely and current medical treatments acknowledged. If senior, more experienced physicians had been consulted as Eileen’s condition deteriorated during her time in care, or if Cavan General Hospital had leased with the Dublin hospital that was treating Eileen for her cancer, the condition of her veins could have been revealed and her death could have been prevented.

Eileen’s son-Martin Brady of Crosskeys, County Cavan-sought legal counsel. He made a claim against the Cavan General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE) on behalf of his entire family. He claimed that Eileen’s death had been avoidable if the above measures were taken. He further stated that Eileen’s death had caused the family mental distress. The HSE admitted liability for Eileen’s death due to their staff’s lack of care. The two legal teams negotiated a compensation settlement which was agreed out of court, subject to the family receiving a public apology.

The case was brought to the High Court for the settlement of compensation to be approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. A representative of the HSE read out a statement in which the hospital and the HSE both apologised for the negligence care which resulted in Eileen’s death, and the subsequent grief and stress that had been suffered by her friends and family.

Responding on behalf of the family, Aidan Brady said he hoped that both Cavan General Hospital and the HSE had learned from “the grave mistakes” made in the care of his mother “and that no other family would have to go through the trauma and distress that we have suffered”.

Read More »

Judge Approves €4 Million Settlement of Compensation for Disabled Teenager

A High Court judge has approved a settlement of compensation offered to a disabled teenager in a birth injury case.

In November 2000, Katie Martin from Trim in County Meath was born at the Coombe Hospital. Her mother – Fiona – had been admitted to the hospital very early in the morning after experiencing irregular contractions.

Following her admission into hospital, Fiona underwent a CTG trace on foetal heartbeat. The results of the trace registered abnormal readings, which suggested Katie was in distress and was being deprived of oxygen in the womb.

However, it took nearly an hour and a half for an emergency Caesarean Section to be organised. As such, when Katie was delivered, she showed no signs of life as she had suffered a cardiac arrest.

Staff at the hospital intervened and resuscitate Katie. She was then transferred to an intensive care unit for further observation. However, Katie had suffered severe brain injuries due to a lack of oxygen in the womb. She was born severely disabled, and will require constant care for the rest of her life.

Fiona Martin sought legal counsel and made a compensation claim for the delay in delivering a child on her daughter´s behalf. However, the Coombe Hospital denied its liability for Katie´s injuries. They stated that Katie was deprived of oxygen in the womb before her mother arrived at the hospital, and thus they were not liable for Katie’s injuries.

The hospital argued that that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent Katie´s brain injury and prepared a full defence against the compensation claim for the delay in delivering a child. Due to the contest in liability, the case was brought to court.

At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that a settlement of €4 million compensation for a delayed birth injury had been negotiated without admission of liability from the hospital. As such, the case was before her for approval of the settlement rather than determination of liability.

The judge was told the circumstances of Katie´s brain damage before approving the settlement and commenting that it was a good one in the circumstances.

Read More »

Young Boy Receives Compensation for Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury

A young boy has received compensation from the State Claims Agency for a birth injury which left him suffering from cerebral palsy.

In July 2007, Dylan Gaffney (now six years of age) from Kilcohan Park in Waterford was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital. At the time of birth, medical staff desired him as being “in a poor condition”. Due to complications just before his birth, his mother-Jean-delivered him via an emergency Caesarean Section. Dylan was born not being able to breath, but no paediatrician was immediately available to resuscitate him.

Jean Gaffney had earlier requested a Caesarean Section delivery for Dylan;. This was due to her first child being born by an emergency Caesarean section after she struggled through 51 hours of labour. Before becoming pregnant with Dylan, she had miscarried a second child. However, her obstetrician had suggested a natural birth would be preferable. This is in spite of him taking an ultrasound just before Dylan´s birth indicating that he weighed nine pounds and four ounces, making him significantly larger than average. Doctors should have been aware that this would cause trouble if a natural birth were attempted.

The ultrasound was conducted two days prior to Dylan´s birth when Jean had attended the Waterford Regional Hospital because she believed her waters had broken. She was assured that everything was proceeding normally. An antenatal appointment was scheduled for five days later; but, on the morning of the 22nd July, Jean went into spontaneous labour and was admitted into the hospital.

Jean was given the drug oxytocic to stimulate her contractions and told to start pushing. In the High Court, Jean´s solicitor stated that the directions given to Jean were inappropriate in the circumstances, and a Caesarean should have been performed straight away. Instead, hospital staff waited until after 2.00pm in the afternoon before transferring Jean to theatre to deliver her child.

Unfortunately, due to the significant delay in his birth, Dylan had been starved of oxygen. He was born severely brain damaged, and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy and other birth injuries.

Jean sought legal advice to claim compensation on behalf of her son. She later made a claim against the HSE for birth injuries. Jean and her solicitor also wrote the State Claims Agency in June 2009 with evidence of the hospital negligence that resulted in Dylan´s condition compiled by an independent medical expert.

Despite the evidence clearly indicating that Dylan´s birth injuries could have been avoided and were attributable to hospital negligence before, during and after his delivery, the State Claims Agency failed to acknowledged the hospital´s responsibility for Dylan´s condition and refused to consider Jean´s claim against the HSE for birth injuries.
Due to the contest in liability, court orders were issues. The court heard that Jean and her partner – Thomas Hayes – put their lives to one side in order to care for Dylan. It was only shortly before Jean´s claim against the HSE for birth injuries was due to be heard in court that liability for Dylan´s cerebral palsy was admitted, and negotiations started to find a suitable settlement.

The case was heard by Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court in Dublin. The judge was told that an agreement had been reached for Dylan to receive a lump sum payment of €8.5 million. After hearing the circumstances of the claim against the HSE for birth injuries, the judge approved the settlement; but criticised the conduct of the State Claims Agency and Health Service Executive for the delay in admitting liability, thus causing additional stress for Dylan and his family.

Read More »

Couple Awarded Compensation for Wrongful Death of Newborn

A couple has been awarded compensation by the HSE for the allegedly wrongful death of their newborn daughter.

In October 2008, Jane Farren and Feidhlimidh Wrafter from Rathgar in Dublin were anticipating the birth of their baby girl at the Rotunda Hospital. However, both suffered nervous shock when their new-born baby could not be resuscitated after being delivered by an emergency Caesarean Section.

They sought legal counsel, and made a claim for compensation for an emotional trauma after a baby´s death against both the Rotunda Hospital and consultant gynaecologist Professor Fergal Malone. In the claim, they alleged that during the period immediately before their daughter´s delivery, Jane´s labour had been mismanaged and the staff in charge of caring for her during their daughter’s birth had been negligent.

Jane had been admitted to the hospital on the previous day due to a spontaneous membrane rupture. She had been given Syntocinin to induce her labour. There was some difficulty with the layout and, at 3.45am in the morning, a vacuum delivery had been attempted.
Half an hour later, Jane and Feidhlimidh´s daughter – Molly – was delivered by an emergency Caesarean Section, but she was not breathing when she was born. Staff at the hospital could not resuscitate her. Molly was declared dead twenty minutes later.

In their compensation claim for an emotional trauma after a baby´s death, Jane and Feidhlimidh alleged that Professor Malone and nursing staff at the hospital had failed to identify abnormalities in the foetal heart rate at an early enough stage, and when the abnormalities were noticed, failed to act upon them in a timely manner.

It was also alleged that the couple had been misinformed during Jane´s labour and the delivery of their daughter. They state that they were led to believe that medical staff thought that Molly’s death was inexplicable, and there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it. However, an investigation into the case revealed that this was not the case.

The Rotunda Hospital and Professor Malone denied their liability for Molly´s death. The case was heard in the courts. The High Court was told that a settlement of compensation for an emotional trauma after a baby´s death had been negotiated amounting to €150,000 without admission of liability and that the case could be struck out.

Read More »

Consultant Obstetrician Found Negligent in Cerebral Palsy Case

A consultant obstetrician has been found guilty of negligence in the case of a baby being born with cerebral palsy.

In November 2001, Roisin Conroy was born at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portloaise . Her mother-Mary Conroy of Portlaoise, County Laois-had sought medical attention at the clinic of her private consultant obstetrician, Dr John Corristine four days earlier, as she believed that her waters had broken. Staff at the clinic had sent Mary home, assuring her that her waters had not in fact broken. However, three days after attended the clinic, and following an ultrasound at the clinic, Mary insisted she be admitted into hospital as she was concerned about the health of her unborn child.

A CTG scan conducted at the hospital failed to indicate any sign of contractions, and Mary was advised to take a bath. However, there was insufficient hot water was available at the hospital. Therefore, Dr Corristine prescribed Mary with some medicine to induce labour.

When Roisin was born the following morning, she suffered seizures soon after her birth and was transferred to a neo-natal unit in Dublin. Dr Corristine was not present during the labour, or at the birth. Despite the specialist attention that Roisin received, her condition failed to improve. She was later diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy. She is permanently physically disabled and cannot communicate verbally. She relies on eye movement for communication with her parents.

Mary blamed herself for Roisin´s condition, and insisted on having her next two children delivered by Caesarean Section. Both Mary and her husband Kevin gave up work to look after Roisin. The hospital had told them that nothing could have been done to avoid the tragedy and that the couple had just been unlucky, and they believed this narrative.

In spite of blaming themselves, the couple sought legal counsel. An investigation was launched into the circumstances Roisin´s birth, which resulted in investigators finding evidence of negligence against both the hospital and the obstetric consultant. Kevin and Mary then made a claim for cerebral palsy against both the Health Service executive (HSE) and Dr Corristine on their daughter´s behalf.

Both the defendants denied their responsibilities for Roisin´s injuries for almost two years. Due to the despute in liability, a court hearing was scheduled. However, five weeks before a scheduled court hearing ,the hospital and Dr Corristine admitted that errors had been made in the management of Mary´s pregnancy which led to Roisin suffering birth injuries.

An interim payment of compensation for cerebral palsy amounting to €2.3 million was negotiated between the parties. As the compensation was to be paid to a minor, a High Court judge had to approve the settlement. Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard the case regarding the interim payment of compensation for cerebral palsy, and approved the settlement.
The family also heard an apology read to them by an HSE representative and Dr Corristine, after which Ms Justice Mary Irvine adjourned the case for two years so that an assessment of Roisin´s future needs can be made and to allow time for the introduction of a system of structured compensation payments.

Read More »

Minister for Health Makes Symphysiotomy Compensation Scheme Announcement

The Minister for Health Dr James Reilly has proposed a new symphysiotomy compensation plan after changing its position on extending the Statute of Limitations for women who underwent the procedure between the 1940s and 1980s.

The plans were announced at a press conference. The Minister stated that Judge Yvonne Murphy has been asked to examine the feasibility of a compensation scheme for women who underwent the controversial childbirth procedure, and who have been left with permanent injuries such as incontinence, difficulty with walking and chronic pain.

The former High Court judge has been asked to compile a series of compensation options for review in February 2014, to “assist in finding closure” for the women affected by the operation. The minister’s statement further claimed that the government would contribute to an ex gratia scheme if that is the symphysiotomy compensation plan recommended. It is understood that Judge Murphy will be meeting with insurance companies to explore whether they would contribute towards such a scheme.

A private members bill about the issue had been introduced into the Dáil by Sinn Féin’s Health Spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. The bill to allowed for a one-year window for the affected women to make claims for symphysiotomy compensation; however the Government were then told that such a move could result in a legal challenge by the insurance companies who would have been liable for compensating the women.

Sinn Féin’s health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin criticised plans to keep the statute of limitations in place. He said “The type of scheme outlined in the terms of reference offers the women no prospect of adequate compensation for what was so barbarically done to them nor the choice to pursue their rights in the courts.”
However Chairman of the support group Survivors of Symphysiotomy Ltd – Tom Moran – welcomed the announcement of a new symphysiotomy compensation plan. His comment was “We welcome this decision to appoint the judge and we hope it leads to women finally being given a chance of some kind of closure.”

Read More »

Widower Receives Compensation in Medication Error Case Against the HSE

A widower-whose husband died due to a medication prescription error-has been awarded a settlement of compensation from the HSE.

Margaret Devereux from Greenrath in County Tipperary made her compensation claim for wrongful death due to a medication error following her husband´s death in Cork University Hospital in March 2008.

In 2008, John Devereux attended the South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel with a toe infection on his right foot. After initial medical investigation, doctors diagnosed John with suffering from septic arthritis. They prescribed Sodium Fusidate to treat the infection, and discharged him from hospital.

However, John returned to South Tipperary General Hospital the following month after his toe infection failed to clear. He was also experiencing pains in his arms and legs. He was administered with further doses of Sodium Fusidate and admitted to hospital for observation.
John´s condition deteriorated and it was later diagnosed that he was suffering with rhabdmoloysis (a condition in which the muscles break down). A later report revealed that the onset of this condition may have been due to a conflict between the Sodium Fusidate that had been prescribed for him and his existing diabetic medicine, Lipitor.

As a consequence of the muscle breakdown, John developed acute renal failure. He was transferred to Cork University Hospital for specialist attention. In spite of intervention of medical staff, John died on March 2nd.

John´s grieving widow-Margaret-sought legal advice about whether she had a claim for wrongful death due to a medication error which was worth her while to pursue. The Health Service Executive denied that it had been in breach of its duty of care, but offered a settlement of compensation to Margaret. The sum was negotiated between the two legal teams.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mrs Justice Mary Irvine heard that Margaret Devereux had settled her claim for wrongful death due to a medication error for €45,000 and, commenting that there would have been a “huge hill to climb to establish liability”, approved the settlement – describing the case as very tragic.

Read More »

Judge Penalises Plaintiff for Unfounded Claims Against Surgeon

The judge in a medical negligence case has penalised the plaintiff for making unfounded medical negligence claims against a surgeon, reducing the amount awarded to her in costs.

In June this year, the High Court in Dublin heard the case of Madeline Wright v. the Health Service Executive and the Mater Misericordiae Hospital. The judge found that the HSE had been negligent in the treatment of Madeline´s spine injury. However, the original claim for medical negligence had cited three specific incidents in which Madeline considered her treatment negligent. One of the allegations had been made against her orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Keith Synott. After hearing the evidence presented against the surgeon, the judge found the case against him unfounded and dismissed the claim.

Normally, the costs in a medical negligence claim are usually awarded to the successful party. As the case against the surgeon was dismissed, Ms Justice Mary Irvine penalised Madeline for making unfounded claims. She was only awarded her 65% costs against the expenses she and her legal team had accrued in the presentation and resolution of her claim.

In her departure from the principal of “costs follow the event”, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said “I am satisfied that regardless of the fact that the plaintiff only succeeded on the last of what I consider to have been four separate legs of her claim that she must nonetheless be deemed to be the overall winner of proceedings in which the defendants denied any liability and in the course of which she duly established a right to compensation she would not otherwise have been able to recover”.

The judge added that the proceedings were of a “complex variety”. The duration of the proceedings was significantly extended due to the allegations of negligence against the surgeon which were not substantiated, and thus an costly investigation had to be launched into the matter. This greatly increased the costs of the medical negligence claim to both parties.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine felt that only 20% of the evidence presented in court related to the HSE negligence for which Madeline was ultimately compensated, and she said that she was tempted to make a costs order in favour of the HSE for successfully defending many of the unsubstantiated allegations.

“However”, the judge concluded “as this practice has not to date been customary in this type of litigation, I have decided against such an approach in the present case and will do no more than reflect in a proportionate way the plaintiff’s failure to succeed on this issue when reducing the level of costs to which she is entitled”.

Read More »

DePuy Faulty Hip Replacement Case Delayed in New York

The first of the DePuy `Bellwether` trials – McCracken -v- DePuy Orthopaedics Inc – had already met with delays after Anne McCracken replaced the original plaintiff Faye Dorney-Madgitz in July. The faulty hip replacement court case has been moved from September 9th, to September 24th to accommodate for the change.

Ann McCracken (57) from Rochester in New York made her claim against DePuy Orthopaedics in March 2011. In her claim, she alleged that she had suffered a dislocated hip due to metal particles discharged from her DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System which was implanted in August 2009.
She underwent orthopaedic surgery to remove the DePuy metal-on-metal hip replacement system in January 2001. The surgeon in charge of the procedure saw evidence of metallosis, which had killed healthy tissue around the implant. This had subsequently caused the dislocation of her hip.

Ann had to undergo further operations in October 2011 to rectify the damage. Surgeons had implant a device which restricts the movement of her hip and which has decreased her mobility further. This restrictive device will also result in her present hip replacement system wearing out quicker than normal. Therefore, Ann will have to undergo further revision surgery in the future.

Ann´s faulty hip replacement court case is also to be decided without reference to the August 2010 recall of the DePuy ASR hip replacement systems. Judge Katz ruled that Ann´s injury “began with the initial implementation” and agreed with DePuy´s lawyers that mentioning the recall during the faulty hip replacement court case might deter other voluntarily recalls of potentially harmful medical devices in the future.

The ‘Bellwether’ trials will be used to determine the relative strengths and weaknesses of the plaintiffs´ claims and DePuy Orthopaedic´s defence. The motive for consolidating 7,800 claims against DePuy Orthopaedics is to discover if an acceptable point of reference can be determined for the settlement of compensation claims against DePuy Orthopaedics and their parent company Johnson & Johnson.

If no baseline can be established-or if negative verdicts are returned by the jurors-the outstanding claims will be remanded back to the U.S. District Courts in which they were originally filed. Each faulty hip replacement court case would then have to be heard individually. Due to the vast number of claims, this will cause a significant delay in the outcome of the claims and potentially inflicting financial hardship on the plaintiffs.

This would also be the case in Ireland. Plaintiffs who have served notice of cases against Johnson & Johnson, DePuy Orthopaedics and the Health Service Executive may not receive an offer of compensation and will have to pursue their claims against the alleged negligent parties through the Irish court system.

Read More »

Survivors of Symphysiotomy Criticises Government Proposal

Survivors of Symphysiotomy has made a public statement which claimed that the group will not enter into mediation over compensation while the government still fail to acknowledge that the practice of symphysiotomy was medical negligence.

Marie O´Connor-the chair of the organisation-was speaking at an emergency general meeting in Dublin in response to proposals from Minister for Health James Reilly. The proposal suggested that Survivors of Symphysiotomy should participate in a negotiated mediation to obtain compensation for survivors of the dangerous medical procedure, rather than take action through the courts.

In her address to the group, Ms O´Connor said that the proposed scheme is exploitative and they do not want to be involved in it . She claimed that the government was looking to “ buy their silence” by suggesting that they don’t go through the courts. She claimed that Minister Reilly´s proposals were based on the draft findings of the government-commissioned Walsh Report, in which it was found that the majority of the symphysiotomy procedures that were carried out were “medically acceptable” under the circumstances.

Ms O´Connor argued that members of the group were betrayed by the medical professionals at the time. As the government maintains their position in not considering symphysiotomy a form of medical negligence, the victims are also being denied access to the courts and a “fair and equitable” settlement of compensation for the pain and anguish the women suffered during and after undergoing a symphysiotomy procedure.

The group has requested compensation of between €250,000 and €450,000 for each survivor of the surgery, and has called on the government to move ahead with legislation first accepted in April to remove the Statute of Limitations which time-bars their eligibility to claim compensation for symphysiotomy medical negligence.

In contrast to Survivors of Symphysiotomy’s position, two other survivor support groups – Patient Focus and SOS Ltd – have indicated that they are in favour of Minister Reilly´s proposals. They say that it could be less traumatic and time consuming for the victims, and will allow for them to put this in their past more quickly. However Ms O´Connor stated fervently that she did not want to see a Magdalene-type settlement, in which some survivors were offered as little as €11,500. “Victims will not allow themselves to be re-victimised by being forced to collude with the official line that symphysiotomy was acceptable medical practice,” she said.

Read More »

Family Receive Compensation for Death Due to Missed Diagnosis

The family of a woman who died due to the missed diagnosis of a perforation in her bowel has received compensation from the HSE.

In February 2009, Eileen Maloney – a 69-year-old mother of thirteen from Pullathomas in County Mayo – attended the Mayo General Hospital after experiencing severe abdominal pains.Eileen – who was suffering from cancer at the time – was admitted into hospital. An initial X-ray was taken, which revealed a small obstacle in her small bowel. However, as it was a Sunday when Eileen was admitted, no doctor was available to review the x-ray for the possibility of a perforated bowel.
A CT scan taken during the following week when Eileen returned to hospital. The results of this scan clearly indicated that a tumour had developed in Eileen´s bowel, but no review was conducted of the scan to identify whether Eileen was suffering from a perforated bowel. In spite her ongoing pain, surgery was scheduled for six days later instead of being performed immediately.

Initially, Eileen´s surgery was deemed a success. However, she died from the effects of the misdiagnosis five days later. In the investigation made into her death, experts stated that this tragedy which could have been avoided if Eileen´s condition had been correctly identified and promptly treated when she was first admitted into the hospital.

Following the results of the investigation, Eileen´s family sought legal counsel. They made a compensation claim for a death due to a wrong diagnosis to account for the mental anguish they had suffered. The Health Service Executive (HSE) denied that it was responsible for Eileen´s wrongful death, but the family pursued their claim and, shortly it was due to be heard in court, Mr Justice Michael Peart heard that a settlement had been agreed.

Under the terms if the settlement, the HSE will pay Eileen´s family €50,000 without admission of liability in return for them withdrawing the compensation claim for death due to a wrong diagnosis. After hearing that the family were satisfied with the agreement, Mr Justice Michael Peart approved the settlement. He wished Eileen’s family well for the future.

Read More »

Family Awarded Compensation for Wrongful Death of Woman Due to Medication Overdose

The family of a woman who died due to cardiac arrest caused by medication overdose has been awarded compensation by the HSE.

In December 2009, Margaret Duggan from Screen in County Wexford was admitted to St. Vincent´s Hospital in Dublin. She had been experiencing abdominal pain, but staff at the facility did not considered this to be a serious health complaint. This is inspire of Margaret suffering from multiple sclerosis.

During the following week, Margaret was prescribed what was later deemed an inappropriate amount of sedatives whenever she became upset and agitated. She later died in hospital. An investigation was launched into her death, and her death was attributed to a cardiac arrest caused by medication overdose. It was alleged in the family´s fatal overdose of medication claim, that these doses of sedatives led to Margaret developing aspiration pneumonia.

It was also alleged in the family´s fatal overdose of medication claim that senior medical staff failed to act in an appropriate timeframe once Margaret´s condition had been diagnosed. They claimed that the delay in transferring her to the intensive care unit caused Margaret to suffer a cardiac arrest. Therefore, hospital staff had been negligent in their care of Margaret.
The case was heard at the High Court by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. She heard that Margaret´s widower – William Duggan – and one her daughters had attempted to visit Margaret in hospital on December 19th. However, when they arrived they found her bed had been curtained off. On asking a nurse the reason for this, William Duggan was told that Margaret had died.

William suffered from severe shock at the news, and his condition deteriorated when no explanation for his wife´s death was forthcoming but the hospital asked him for permission to conduct an immediate post-mortem. The post-mortem and subsequent internal investigation by St Joseph´s Hospital established that Margaret would not have died were it not for the negligent administration of the sedatives.

William and his three adult children sought legal counsel for Margaret’s wrongful death. They made a claim for compensation for the fatal overdose of medication against the HSE. Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that an offer of settlement amounting to €110,000 had been made to the family by the hospital and that they were willing to accept it. Approving the settlement of the fatal overdose of medication claim, the judge said “It must have been very traumatic to arrive in the hospital after her death. I hope as the years go by the loss lessens”.

Read More »

High Court Judge Approves Interim Settlement of Compensation in Cerebral Palsy Case

A High Court judge has approved an interim settlement of medical negligence compensation to be awarded to a boy who was born with irreversible brain damage.

Ryan Brennan from Cahir, County Tipperary, made the claim through his parents following allegedly preventable complications before and during his (Ryan´s) birth in January 2000 at the St Joseph´s Hospital in Clonmel.

A foetal trace was taken of Ryan’s foetal heartbeat several hours before he was born. In spite of medical staff uncovering abnormalities in Ryan´s heart rate, the failed to act in an appropriate manner.

Shortly after Ryan was born, he had to be resuscitated. He continued to suffer from seizures throughout the following day. Due to his delayed birth, Ryan was started of oxygen in the womb and was born with irreversible brain damage. Later medical assessment diagnosed him with cerebral palsy. He is reliant on care from his parents for even simple tasks, and will be dependant on care for the rest of his life.

In the action it was claimed by Ryan´s parents – Lorraine and Raymond Brennan – that Ryan´s cerebral palsy could have been avoided if the consultant obstetrician – Dr Brendan Powell – and staff at St Joseph´s Hospital had applied greater care to their work, and a birth injury medical negligence compensation action was made against Dr Powell and the HSE.

Both parties did not accept the allegations of a failure to act, negligence, a breach of duty by Dr Powell and a breach of contract by the hospital which resulted in the brain damage suffered by Ryan. Due to the dispute in liabilty, the case was heard at the High Court in Dublin.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine oversaw proceedings. She was told that an interim settlement of cerebral palsy birth injury compensation had been agreed upon with no admission of liability, and that the case against the consultant had been struck from court.

The €1.7 million temporary payment is for the next two years to allow for the introduction of a new structured payment system and a review of Ryan´s future needs. Ms Justine Mary Irvine described the interim settlement as ‘in the upper parameters of these types of cases’ as she approved it on Ryan’s behalf.

Read More »

Family Awarded Compensation Following Wrongful Death due to Misdiagnosis

The family of a young boy who died due a misdiagnosis of his bacterial infection has been awarded compensation for their suffering.

In February 2011, Richard de Souza from Athy, County Kildare had been taken to the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise by his parents. His parents were concerned after Richard developed a lump on the left side of his body while suffering from chicken pox.

The doctor in the A&E Department diagnosed Richard as having an infection. They prescribed him with a three-day course in antibiotics, and discharged him. In spite Richard displaying a high temperature and high pulse and heart rate, no further medical action was taken.

Later that evening Richard complained of being thirsty and became delirious, and the following morning collapsed on the floor of the family home. Richard´s mother called for an ambulance, and paramedics soon arrived on the scene. However, when they arrived, Richard was already in a state of cardiac arrest. In spite of the best efforts of medical staff, he was declared dead on arrival at the Midland Regional Hospital.

An investigation was launched into Richard’s death. A report was released that attributed Richard´s death to a streptococcal infection. This led to him suffering from toxic shock syndrome. The report stated that it could have been successfully treated by intravenous antibiotics had Richard been admitted to hospital. After hearing this evidence, Ralmon and Flavia de Souza sought legal counsel and made a claim for compensation for a fatal hospital misdiagnosis.

Following an investigation into the claim, the Midland Regional Hospital and the Health Service Executive admitted liability for Richard´s wrongful death and a settlement of compensation for a fatal hospital misdiagnosis was negotiated to include the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder both parents had been diagnosed with following the tragic and avoidable death of their son

 At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard a representative of the Midland Regional Hospital read out an apology to the family before approving the €160,000 settlement of the claim for a hospital fatal misdiagnosis. She wished the family well for the future.

Read More »