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”.