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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.

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