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Widower Receives Compensation in Medication Error Case Against the HSE

A widower-whose husband died due to a medication prescription error-has been awarded a settlement of compensation from the HSE.

Margaret Devereux from Greenrath in County Tipperary made her compensation claim for wrongful death due to a medication error following her husband´s death in Cork University Hospital in March 2008.

In 2008, John Devereux attended the South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel with a toe infection on his right foot. After initial medical investigation, doctors diagnosed John with suffering from septic arthritis. They prescribed Sodium Fusidate to treat the infection, and discharged him from hospital.

However, John returned to South Tipperary General Hospital the following month after his toe infection failed to clear. He was also experiencing pains in his arms and legs. He was administered with further doses of Sodium Fusidate and admitted to hospital for observation.
John´s condition deteriorated and it was later diagnosed that he was suffering with rhabdmoloysis (a condition in which the muscles break down). A later report revealed that the onset of this condition may have been due to a conflict between the Sodium Fusidate that had been prescribed for him and his existing diabetic medicine, Lipitor.

As a consequence of the muscle breakdown, John developed acute renal failure. He was transferred to Cork University Hospital for specialist attention. In spite of intervention of medical staff, John died on March 2nd.

John´s grieving widow-Margaret-sought legal advice about whether she had a claim for wrongful death due to a medication error which was worth her while to pursue. The Health Service Executive denied that it had been in breach of its duty of care, but offered a settlement of compensation to Margaret. The sum was negotiated between the two legal teams.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mrs Justice Mary Irvine heard that Margaret Devereux had settled her claim for wrongful death due to a medication error for €45,000 and, commenting that there would have been a “huge hill to climb to establish liability”, approved the settlement – describing the case as very tragic.

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