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.