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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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