Medical Negligence News

Compensation for the Misdiagnosis of Meningitis Approved in Court

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A settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis has been approved at the High Court in favour of a fifteen-year-old girl from County Cork.

The young girl was just three years of age when, on the morning of 10th July 2005, her concerned parents called the South Doc out-of-hours doctor´s service in Cork to expressed concerns about their daughter´s condition. As she was suffering from a rash on her stomach, a high temperature, drowsiness and vomiting, her parents were told to bring the girl into the medical centre.

Arriving at 5:00am, the girl was examined by Dr Leon Britz, who diagnosed tonsillitis and told the family to go back home. However, within a few hours, the young girl´s condition deteriorated and her parents brought her back to the medical centre at 9:30am when she was examined by another doctor who diagnosed meningitis.

The girl was taken to the Emergency Department of Cork University Hospital, where antibiotics were administered before she was transferred to Our Lady´s Children´s Hospital in Crumlin. Tragically, the girl had to have both legs amputated below the knee and subsequently underwent 132 operations to resolve other health issues that could have been avoided if her condition had been correctly diagnosed initially.

Through her mother, the girl claimed compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis against Dr Britz and South West Doctors on Call Ltd – alleging that she had suffered “profound consequences” as a result of the initial misdiagnosis. Had antibiotics been administered at an earlier stage, it was alleged, many of the consequences of her condition could have been avoided.

Liability was admitted by the defendants, and a settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of compensation amounting to €5.6 million was agreed between the parties. As the claim had been made on behalf of a legal minor, the settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the girl´s best interests.

At the approval hearing at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the sequence of events on 10th July 2005 and of the “profound consequences” suffered by the girl. After hearing the girl was doing well at school and just about to sit her Junior Cert exams, Judge Cross approved the settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis – praising the girl´s parents for the care they had provided for their daughter.

Court Approves Compensation for Delayed Caesarean Section

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The High Court has approved a €1.35 million settlement for a young boy who suffered serious birth injuries after a hospital’s failure to operate on his mother.

The claim for medical negligence compensation was made on behalf of a child from Bantry, Co. Cork. Born in March 2010 at the Cork University Maternity Hospital, the boy sustained severe birth injuries after an alleged failure to correctly interpret the results of a CTG scan. The scan showed that the boy was suffering from foetal distress syndrome.

As the staff did not believe the foetus was in danger, there was a delay in performing a Caesarean section. Consequently, the boy suffered from a lack of oxygen and contracted hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy in utero. He was born with severe brain damage.

The boy, now six years old, is blind and unable to speak. He also suffers from daily seizures and is reliant on round-the-clock care. His parents and extended family provide constant care, and he receives additional support from the Jack and Jill Foundation.

Acting on her son’s behalf, the boy’s mother made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE). Though the HSE denied the allegations of negligence, they agreed to pay an interim settlement of compensation of €1.35 million without admitting liability. The settlement allows for an assessment of the boy’s condition and future care needs.

As the claim was made on behalf of a minor, the settlement had to be approved in court before it could be awarded. At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told of how hard it was for the boy’s family to get compensation for the delayed Caesarean section, and of their relief that the process was over. Wishing the family the best for the future, Judge Cross approved the settlement and adjourned the case for three years.

Child Compensated for Medical Negligence During Mother’s Pregnancy

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A six-year-old boy, who sustained severe injuries at birth due to a failure to diagnose his mother’s vasa praevia, has been awarded a €1.98 million interim settlement of compensation by the High Court of Dublin.

In October 2010, the young boy and his twin brother were delivered by emergency Caesarean Section at Cork’s University Maternity Hospital by an emergency Caesarean Section. Whilst the boy’s older brother was delivered healthy, the boy in question had suffered from foetal distress syndrome and was quite weak when he was born. Shortly afterward, he was then diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy.

The twins’ mother, acting on behalf of her disabled son, made a claim for medical negligence compensation for the failure to diagnose vasa praaevia complications during her pregnancy. Vasa praevia is a condition in which the foetal blood vessels are near the internal uterine opening, putting them at risk of rupturing during labour. The mother, who has remained anonymous but is known to live in Midelton, Co. Cork, alleges that earlier scans showed one of the placentas lay quite low in the womb, a critical risk factor for vasa praevia.

However, neither the Health Service Executives (HSE) and Cork University Maternity Hospital – against whom the allegations were made – accepted culpability for the birth injury. They claimed that they did not conduct any further tests for vasa praevia as it was not standard practice in such circumstances. Even so, they agreed to pay a seven-figure interim settlement of compensation to the young boy for his injuries.

As the claim was made on behalf of a minor it had to be approved by a High Court judge before any settlement could be awarded. The approval hearing was held earlier this month in Dublin, where the judge was told about the circumstances of the pregnancy and birth and what could have been done to prevent the boy’s injuries.

The court was also informed of more recent developments, including some of the child’s successes. In 2014, he received a National Children of Courage Award. His friends and family had also raised funds for him to fly to the United States for selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery, which allowed him to walk for the first time. However, he still requires therapy for speech and language acquisition.

The interim settlement was approved by the High Court. The case was then adjourned for five years, after which an additional assessment will be conducted.

Cerebral Palsy Claim against the HSE Heard in Court

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A cerebral palsy claim against the HSE has been heard in the High Court for the approval of a compensation settlement without an admission of liability.

On 5th October 2010, a woman from Midleton in County Cork gave birth to twin boys at Cork University Maternity Hospital. One of the boys was delivered in good health during the emergency Caesarean Section procedure, but the second was born in a poor state due to being starved of oxygen in the womb. He was diagnosed shortly after with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.

On the second twin´s behalf, his mother made a cerebral palsy claim against the HSE, claiming that there had been a failure to diagnose a vasa praevia condition during her pregnancy after scans conducted in June and September had revealed a low-lying placenta. The woman claimed that the Cork University Maternity Hospital had failed to exercise reasonable care in the antenatal stage of the pregnancy.

The Cork University Maternity Hospital and HSE contested the claim on the grounds it was not normal practice to conduct further investigations or take precautions against the risk of a vasa praevia condition causing complications. However, after a period of negotiation, an interim settlement of cerebral palsy compensation amounting to €1.98 million was agreed without an admission of liability.

As the cerebral palsy claim against the HSE had been made on behalf of a child, the interim settlement had to be approved by a court to ensure it was in the boy´s best interests. The approval hearing took place at the High Court, where the circumstances leading up to the boy´s delivery were explained, along with the reasons why it was believed that medical staff the hospital had acted negligently.

The High Court also heard how, in 2014, the boy had won a National Children of Courage Award, and that last year enough funds had been raised by family and friends to fly the family to Missouri so that the boy could undergo Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery. As a result of the surgery, the boy has been able to learn to walk, although he still has to often rely on a walker or a wheelchair for his mobility.

The High Court approved the interim settlement of the cerebral palsy claim against the HSE after hearing that the funds will be used to pay for physiotherapy, speech, language and occupational therapy. The case was then adjourned for five years so that reports can be compiled into the boy´s future needs. When the family returns to the High Court in five years, it is hoped that a system of periodic payments will be in place so that his future wellbeing is guaranteed.

Surgical Negligence Claim Settled for Seven Figures

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A claim for medical negligence compensation, made after a man was deprived of oxygen during a surgery on his spine, has been settled in court for €7.1 million.

The claim was made on behalf of a former barrister, aged forty-six, who visited the Sports Surgery Clinic in North Dublin concerning pain in his back. In 2014, he elected to have surgery on his cervical spine due to the pain. However, though the back pain was relieved, during the surgery the patient was deprived of oxygen and as a result sustained severe brain damage.

Since the surgery, the ex-barrister has been reliant on twenty-four-hour care as the mismanaged anaesthetic left him with a hypoxic brain injury. The patient can smile at his children and has certain reactions around his family, but cannot otherwise communicate. Though he is currently in a resident care home, his family hope that he will be able to return home to them in Clonee, Co. Meath, in the future.

Acting on her husband’s behalf, the patient’s wife made a claim for medical negligence compensation against Deirdre Lohan, the anaesthetist on the day of the surgery. However, the medical practitioner did not concede liability until October 2016, at which point a settlement of €7.1 million was negotiated between the families. However, before the settlement could be awarded it first had to be approved by a High Court judge, as it was made on another’s behalf.

The approval hearing was held earlier this month, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings. The judge was informed of that, to date, the victim’s care costs were being funded by a trust fund established by his friends and former colleagues. He also heard of the wife’s distress, and her eagerness to accept the settlement to finish with proceedings.
The judge proceeded to approve the €7.1 million settlement for surgical negligence, offering his own sympathies towards the family after the “terrible tragedy” they had endured.

Negotiations Settle Claim for Hospital Trolley Accident

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A man, who sustained injuries to his back after he fell from a trolley whilst sleeping in hospital, has settled his claim for medical negligence compensation.

The patient in question, Anthony Whelan, attended the Adelaide and Meath Hospital in September 2015 complaining of debilitating post-operative pain. The doctors admitted Anthony – a sixty-four year-old caretaker from nearby Tallaght – overnight and scheduled an emergency operation for the next morning.

Though Anthony was initially taken to an overnight ward, there was no available bed. As such, he was moved out not a corridor and placed near a nursing station, with screens around him to that he could rest.

However, as he was sleeping, Anthony fell from the trolley. He hit his back against the supports of the screens before landing on the ground, causing him a lot of pain. X-rays didn’t indicate that there was any damage to his chest, lungs or spine, though he was still administered painkillers and moved to a private room.

The second operation was carried out as planned the next morning. After his recovery, Anthony sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Tallaght hospital. In the claim, he alleged that his stay at the hospital was not adequately managed and that he suffered a substandard level of care.

The Adelaide and Meath Hospital acknowledged that Anthony’s accident had happened, though disputed the extent to which he said he was injured. As a result, the claim proceeded to the Circuit Civil Court for an assessment of damages.

There, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke oversaw proceedings. He was informed that the two parties had come to an agreement concerning the settlement of compensation and the payments of costs. The case is now within the jurisdiction of the District Court.

New Patient Rights Organisation Announced by Minister

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Mr Simon Harris, current Minister of Health, has announced a new National Patient Safety Office will be established, and among its first actions it will conduct a review of the medical negligence compensation claim procedures.

The announcement was made at a patient safety conference in Dublin. The Minister for Health announced the new National Patient Safety Office will report to the Department of Justice and Equality, and was established to “lead a program of significant patient safety measures”.

The new office, set up to help secure more rights for patients across Ireland, will establish a nationwide patient advocacy service, set up a new patient advisory council and also establish a patient safety surveillance system. However, it will also conduct a much-needed review of the processes required to claim for medical negligence compensation in Ireland.

The proposed Health Information and Patient Safety Bill will be greatly aided by this review. It outlines procedures that can be established to allow patients and their families to disclose adverse medical events.Such measures have been discussed before: the HSE had established guidelines for this open disclosure in 2013, though they are not actually being practiced in Irish healthcare facilities.

Many patient advocacy groups have been campaigning for such change for many years, and greatly welcome the news of the review. The patient representatives claim that without a statutory duty of candour, any new medical negligence claims are “unworkable”. The former Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, is heavily criticised by these groups for his failure to enforce open disclosure in 2015’s Civil Liberty (Amendment) Bill.

The new Health Information and Patient Safety Bill has many other goals to help bolster patient safety and privacy; it hopes to halt the unauthorised disclosure of health information, to establish the use of new medical technologies to safely exchange health data and to extend the Health Information and Quality Authority’s (HIQA) authority over private healthcare providers. However, the European Union is currently reviewing its data protection laws, and until that is completed these new measures will not be enacted.

Interim Settlement of Compensation Awarded to Child

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The High Court of Dublin have approved a seven-figure settlement of compensation for a young child that sustained serious injuries because there was a “lack of competent staff” at a hospital.

In August 2012, Eoghan Dunne was brought to the Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, aged just eleven months. Eoghan was experiencing severe respiratory distress and had a very high heart rate. Just a few hours later, his condition became so severe that he was transferred to a special unit in Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin.

There, Eoghan suffered from a heart attack that was the result of septic shock. This lead to a deprivation of oxygen to Eoghan’s brain, resulting in brain damage that has left Eoghan with a host of life-changing disabilities. Eoghan is now epileptic, visually impaired and unable to speak or walk. He had to stay in hospital for six months after the heart attack and now he will be reliant on twenty-four hour care for the rest of his life.

An investigation concerning Eoghan’s injuries concluded that there many many factors that contributed to his injuries, all relating to a substandard level of care at the Portiuncula Hospital. The final report claims that the hospital was not adequately equipped for severe cases such as Eoghan’s. It also noted that they directly contradicted HSE policy for sepsis by failing to administer antibiotics. It also alleges that “a lack of competent staff” was to blame for the delayed transfer to Temple Street.

Teresa and Ronan Dunne, Eoghan’s parents, decided to seek legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Portiuncula Hospital and the HSE. They alleged that the injuries sustained by their son would not have been as severe should staff at the hospital acted appropriately. The HSE maintained that there was no negligence, denying to concede liability for Eoghan’s current condition.

As such, the case was due to proceed to a full court hearing. Yet, shortly before this was to commence, the HSE acknowledged their culpability and made the offer of €2.4 million as an interim settlement of compensation. This was accepted by the family, though needed to be approved by a judge in the High Court before it could be awarded as the claim was for a minor.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross, presided over the approval hearing and asserted his belief that the settlement was fair and added his anger that liability was not admitted sooner, as Eoghan could have then received therapy during a crucial period of development. The case has now been adjourned for a further assessment of damages.

Child Awarded Interim Settlement for Birth Injuries

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A two year-old boy has been awarded a €1.75 million settlement of compensation for medical negligence prior to his birth that left him disabled. 

On the 19th August 2013, Catriona Enright was admitted to the Midwestern Regional Hospital. She was thirty-seven weeks pregnant when she was admitted, and after a medical examination, it was decided that her labour would be induced. 

Catriona was then administered Syntocinon, a drug with well-documented side-effects. However, despite this, the medical staff failed to accurately monitor Catriona and, as a result, her baby suffered from hyper-stimulation in the womb. 

The following morning, Charlie Enright was delivered “flat”, meaning that he was bot able to breathe unassisted. This was a result of the misinterpretation of a cardiocography trace by doctors, meaning that there was a delayed diagnosis of foetal distress. Charlie was shortly transferred to the Cork University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with  an intra-cranial haemorrhage. 

To treat this condition, Charlie underwent therapeutic hypothermia treatment, though he was still left with a permanent disability. Catriona, acting on behalf of her now two year-old son, sought legal counsel and made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Health Service Executives. After an investigation into the circumstances of Charlie’s birth, the HSE admitted liability for Charlie’s injuries. 

After this admittance, negotiations ensued between the parties. However, as the exact nature of Charlie’s future needs are unknown, an interim settlement of compensation worth €1.75 million was negotiated between the parties. 

As the claim was made on behalf of a minor, the case proceeded to the High Court of Dublin such that the settlement could be approved by a judge. Mr Justice Anthony Barr proceeded to approve the settlement, and adjourned the case for two years such that an assessment of Charlie’s needs could be conducted. 

Cancer Misdiagnosis Claim Heard in Court

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A medical negligence claim, made by a woman who underwent an allegedly negligent mastectomy after a cancer misdiagnosis, has been heard in Dublin’s High Court.

Eileen Fennessy, a sixty-nine year-old retired schoolteacher from Co. Kilkenny, attended a Breast Check event as part of the National Breast Screening Programme on the 25th November 2011. However, she claims that mammogram taken at the screening contained warning signals of breast cancer which were not noted by medical staff, leading to a missed diagnosis.

A year after the first scan, Eileen visited her GP, who noted a large mass on one of her breasts. As such, Eileen was then referred to Waterford Regional Hospital, where an ultrasound and biopsy lead to the diagnosis of a grade 2 carcinoma.

Eileen was immediately started on a course of chemotherapy after the confirmation of her breast cancer. Regrettably, this did put her in remission and in April 2013 Eileen had a mastectomy. Upon her recovery from the procedure, Eileen sought legal advice and proceeded to make a claim for her missed diagnosis of breast cancer.

In her claim for medical negligence compensation – which was made against the Health Service Executives – Eileen alleged that the chemotherapy and following mastectomy would not have been needed had the medical staff correctly interpreted the warning signals from her mammogram in 2011.

The Health Service Executive, who run the “Breast Check” programme, denied that they were negligent in Eileen’s care. Earlier this week, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was informed at the High Court that the failure to diagnose Eileen after the initial screening put her at risk of her cancer becoming worse and metastasising.

The court was also informed that despite Eileen’s current remission, her prognosis “extremely serious and devastating”.  The case will continue later this week.