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Medical Misdiagnosis Claim Settled in Court

A case of a woman being rendered severely disabled due to doctors misdiagnosing the severity of her illness when she first arrived in hospital has been settled in court.

Bernadette Surlis (60 years of age) made a misdiagnosis negligence claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE) in relation to the treatment she received at Sligo General Hospital in 2013. The claim was recently settled for a settlement of compensation of €5 million.

In November 2013, Ms Surlis attended Sligo General Hospital suffering from a headache and vomiting fits. Although staff at the facility diagnosed her with a dilated left pupil on her eye, she was designated as “category three” in triage and left to wait for treatment for another three hours.

When medical staff finally saw her, they inspected her for evidence of glaucoma. Finding none, they discharged her. However, she returned the following day when the severity of her condition was “appreciated for the first time”.

Ms Surlis, who lives at Drinaum, Strokestown in Co Roscommon was transferred to Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital on November 5 as she suffered a hemorrhage and severe/permanent injury. She now needs permanent care, and in unable to live independently. Senior Counsel, Mr Cush, said the opinion of experts was that her condition will only slightly improve over the course of her life. She is aware of the severity of her condition, and the implications that it will have on her quality of life. Ms Surlis has difficulty communicating but can do so with the assistance of her family members. Ms Surlis has three grown children and four sisters living nearby her, who shall all aid in caring for her.

In relation to the claim, Mr Cush stated that had Ms Surlis been properly and quickly diagnosed and treated in November 2013, she would not have suffered the injuries. He advised the court that liability was accepted by the HSE. Expert medical consultants stated that if she had been sent to Beaumont when she first attended the hospital in Sligo, it is likely that she could have been treated properly and made a full recovery.

Bernadette Surlis is now restricted to a wheelchair and lives in a nursing home. Mr Justice Kevin Cross was advised that the misdiagnosis negligence settlement means she may realise her wish to return home in the future.
Judge Mr Justice Kevin Cross said the medical negligence settlement was a “reasonable and very good one” and that he hopes it will lead to Ms Surlis returning to live at home.

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