Survivors of Symphysiotomy Criticises Government Proposal

Survivors of Symphysiotomy has made a public statement which claimed that the group will not enter into mediation over compensation while the government still fail to acknowledge that the practice of symphysiotomy was medical negligence.

Marie O´Connor-the chair of the organisation-was speaking at an emergency general meeting in Dublin in response to proposals from Minister for Health James Reilly. The proposal suggested that Survivors of Symphysiotomy should participate in a negotiated mediation to obtain compensation for survivors of the dangerous medical procedure, rather than take action through the courts.

In her address to the group, Ms O´Connor said that the proposed scheme is exploitative and they do not want to be involved in it . She claimed that the government was looking to “ buy their silence” by suggesting that they don’t go through the courts. She claimed that Minister Reilly´s proposals were based on the draft findings of the government-commissioned Walsh Report, in which it was found that the majority of the symphysiotomy procedures that were carried out were “medically acceptable” under the circumstances.

Ms O´Connor argued that members of the group were betrayed by the medical professionals at the time. As the government maintains their position in not considering symphysiotomy a form of medical negligence, the victims are also being denied access to the courts and a “fair and equitable” settlement of compensation for the pain and anguish the women suffered during and after undergoing a symphysiotomy procedure.

The group has requested compensation of between €250,000 and €450,000 for each survivor of the surgery, and has called on the government to move ahead with legislation first accepted in April to remove the Statute of Limitations which time-bars their eligibility to claim compensation for symphysiotomy medical negligence.

In contrast to Survivors of Symphysiotomy’s position, two other survivor support groups – Patient Focus and SOS Ltd – have indicated that they are in favour of Minister Reilly´s proposals. They say that it could be less traumatic and time consuming for the victims, and will allow for them to put this in their past more quickly. However Ms O´Connor stated fervently that she did not want to see a Magdalene-type settlement, in which some survivors were offered as little as €11,500. “Victims will not allow themselves to be re-victimised by being forced to collude with the official line that symphysiotomy was acceptable medical practice,” she said.

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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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Family Awarded Compensation for Wrongful Death of Woman Due to Medication Overdose

The family of a woman who died due to cardiac arrest caused by medication overdose has been awarded compensation by the HSE.

In December 2009, Margaret Duggan from Screen in County Wexford was admitted to St. Vincent´s Hospital in Dublin. She had been experiencing abdominal pain, but staff at the facility did not considered this to be a serious health complaint. This is inspire of Margaret suffering from multiple sclerosis.

During the following week, Margaret was prescribed what was later deemed an inappropriate amount of sedatives whenever she became upset and agitated. She later died in hospital. An investigation was launched into her death, and her death was attributed to a cardiac arrest caused by medication overdose. It was alleged in the family´s fatal overdose of medication claim, that these doses of sedatives led to Margaret developing aspiration pneumonia.

It was also alleged in the family´s fatal overdose of medication claim that senior medical staff failed to act in an appropriate timeframe once Margaret´s condition had been diagnosed. They claimed that the delay in transferring her to the intensive care unit caused Margaret to suffer a cardiac arrest. Therefore, hospital staff had been negligent in their care of Margaret.
The case was heard at the High Court by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. She heard that Margaret´s widower – William Duggan – and one her daughters had attempted to visit Margaret in hospital on December 19th. However, when they arrived they found her bed had been curtained off. On asking a nurse the reason for this, William Duggan was told that Margaret had died.

William suffered from severe shock at the news, and his condition deteriorated when no explanation for his wife´s death was forthcoming but the hospital asked him for permission to conduct an immediate post-mortem. The post-mortem and subsequent internal investigation by St Joseph´s Hospital established that Margaret would not have died were it not for the negligent administration of the sedatives.

William and his three adult children sought legal counsel for Margaret’s wrongful death. They made a claim for compensation for the fatal overdose of medication against the HSE. Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that an offer of settlement amounting to €110,000 had been made to the family by the hospital and that they were willing to accept it. Approving the settlement of the fatal overdose of medication claim, the judge said “It must have been very traumatic to arrive in the hospital after her death. I hope as the years go by the loss lessens”.

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High Court Judge Approves Interim Settlement of Compensation in Cerebral Palsy Case

A High Court judge has approved an interim settlement of medical negligence compensation to be awarded to a boy who was born with irreversible brain damage.

Ryan Brennan from Cahir, County Tipperary, made the claim through his parents following allegedly preventable complications before and during his (Ryan´s) birth in January 2000 at the St Joseph´s Hospital in Clonmel.

A foetal trace was taken of Ryan’s foetal heartbeat several hours before he was born. In spite of medical staff uncovering abnormalities in Ryan´s heart rate, the failed to act in an appropriate manner.

Shortly after Ryan was born, he had to be resuscitated. He continued to suffer from seizures throughout the following day. Due to his delayed birth, Ryan was started of oxygen in the womb and was born with irreversible brain damage. Later medical assessment diagnosed him with cerebral palsy. He is reliant on care from his parents for even simple tasks, and will be dependant on care for the rest of his life.

In the action it was claimed by Ryan´s parents – Lorraine and Raymond Brennan – that Ryan´s cerebral palsy could have been avoided if the consultant obstetrician – Dr Brendan Powell – and staff at St Joseph´s Hospital had applied greater care to their work, and a birth injury medical negligence compensation action was made against Dr Powell and the HSE.

Both parties did not accept the allegations of a failure to act, negligence, a breach of duty by Dr Powell and a breach of contract by the hospital which resulted in the brain damage suffered by Ryan. Due to the dispute in liabilty, the case was heard at the High Court in Dublin.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine oversaw proceedings. She was told that an interim settlement of cerebral palsy birth injury compensation had been agreed upon with no admission of liability, and that the case against the consultant had been struck from court.

The €1.7 million temporary payment is for the next two years to allow for the introduction of a new structured payment system and a review of Ryan´s future needs. Ms Justine Mary Irvine described the interim settlement as ‘in the upper parameters of these types of cases’ as she approved it on Ryan’s behalf.

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Family Awarded Compensation Following Wrongful Death due to Misdiagnosis

The family of a young boy who died due a misdiagnosis of his bacterial infection has been awarded compensation for their suffering.

In February 2011, Richard de Souza from Athy, County Kildare had been taken to the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise by his parents. His parents were concerned after Richard developed a lump on the left side of his body while suffering from chicken pox.

The doctor in the A&E Department diagnosed Richard as having an infection. They prescribed him with a three-day course in antibiotics, and discharged him. In spite Richard displaying a high temperature and high pulse and heart rate, no further medical action was taken.

Later that evening Richard complained of being thirsty and became delirious, and the following morning collapsed on the floor of the family home. Richard´s mother called for an ambulance, and paramedics soon arrived on the scene. However, when they arrived, Richard was already in a state of cardiac arrest. In spite of the best efforts of medical staff, he was declared dead on arrival at the Midland Regional Hospital.

An investigation was launched into Richard’s death. A report was released that attributed Richard´s death to a streptococcal infection. This led to him suffering from toxic shock syndrome. The report stated that it could have been successfully treated by intravenous antibiotics had Richard been admitted to hospital. After hearing this evidence, Ralmon and Flavia de Souza sought legal counsel and made a claim for compensation for a fatal hospital misdiagnosis.

Following an investigation into the claim, the Midland Regional Hospital and the Health Service Executive admitted liability for Richard´s wrongful death and a settlement of compensation for a fatal hospital misdiagnosis was negotiated to include the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder both parents had been diagnosed with following the tragic and avoidable death of their son

 At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard a representative of the Midland Regional Hospital read out an apology to the family before approving the €160,000 settlement of the claim for a hospital fatal misdiagnosis. She wished the family well for the future.

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