Hospital Negligence Claims

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.

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.

Value of Compensation Settlement for Hepatitis C Increased after Appeal

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A judge in Dublin’s High Court has increased the value of a compensation settlement that was previously decided by a tribunal after hearing testimony from a woman who developed encephalopathy during an appeal.

The woman, who remains anonymous, was representative of thousands of women who, in 1977, were given an anti-D immunoglobulin blood transfusion that had been infected with Hepatitis C. The case was initially settled in 1988, when the woman in question was given €298,000 by the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal, though she returned to the tribunal earlier this year in the hope of gaining more compensation to account for the fact that she developed “life destroying” cirrhosis of the liver and brain damage.

The Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal increased the award made to the anonymous woman by €180,000. However, the previous case had been settled for €250,000 when a woman have suffered similar injuries and as such the plaintiff appealed the decision. The case then went to the High Court, where it was opposed by the Minister for Health, emphasising any difference between the two cases, claiming that the woman in question had received treatment for Hepatitis C before the diagnosis of her condition.

However, Mr Justice Bernard Barton was told at the High Court of the woman’s “decompensated cirrhosis”, and how it was caused by ribavirin therapy she had undergone in 2013 to treat the Hepatitis C virus. Tests had shown that her liver had seriously deteriorated in condition.

Evidence was also given of the woman’s encephalopathy, which developed as a result of her treatment. Now, the woman suffers from unclear speech and absent-mindedness. The condition can be treated, though it requires ongoing care, and has caused the woman severe mental anguish.

Judge Barton said that the High Court had adequate jurisdiction to compensate the woman for the trauma she sustained after her treatment two years ago, claiming that it was “only fair and reasonable” that the award made by the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal was increased to €250,000 to account for the fact the woman can no longer live a full life.

 

Family Initiate Claim for Wrongful Death

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The family of a woman who died from medical misadventure after a routine operation have sought legal counsel to claim compensation for her death.

Susan McGee, a fifty-two year old mother of two, was admitted to the Hermitage Medical Clinic on the 13th July 2013 for an operation to treat a hernia. The surgery, which was described as routine, was initially determined to be successful and Susan was discharged to the care of her daughter three days later.

However, on the 17th July, Susan started to experience extreme abdominal pains and nausea. She was taken back to the Hermitage and readmitted such that she could be monitored. However, over the weekend of the 20th and 21st July, Susan continued to worsen and a CT scan revealed that there was a mass in her small intestine.

An emergency surgery was conducted to remove the obstruction, though Susan did not get better after the surgery. The next day, the 23rd July, Susan was transferred to Intensive Care at Beaumont Hospital. However, she tragically died the next day from multiple organ failure brought on by sepsis, which in turn was caused by a Clostridium difficile infection.

In 2015, an inquest into Susan’s death revealed that the medical staff at the hospital had made several errors in their patients care. Dublin City Coroner’s Court heard how the staff failed to note that there was a brown faecal fluid draining in Susan’s nasogastric tube. Three days before she died, Susan’s vital signs were not recorded for ten hours.

Additionally, over the weekend during which Susan was in hospital, there was just one resident medical officer working in the hospital, Dr Lachman Pahwani. He testified that, whilst he tried to devote as much of his time as he could to Susan due to her condition, he had eighty other patients to care for whilst he was on duty.

The inquest determined that that Susan died because of medical misadventure. After the inquest, Susan’s family consulted a solicitor and have made a claim against the Hermitage Medical Clinic for Susan’s death.

 

Errors by Locum Radiologists Prompt Major X-Ray Review

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Errors by locum radiologists have prompted a review of more than 7,000 x-rays and scans that were originally assessed during 2013 in seven Irish hospitals.

The HSE-ordered review of the x-rays and scans was initiated following concerns being raised about three locum radiologists that worked throughout Ireland as agency staff in mid-2013. The locum radiologists have not been named, and are believed to have left the country after being reported to the Medical Council.

At least one patient of Bantry General Hospital is known to have been late diagnosed with cancer, and sixty-two patients have been recalled at Cavan Monaghan Hospital for further check-ups. Six patients have been recalled at Kerry Hospital, while reviews at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda and Connolly Hospital are still in progress.

No patient safety concerns have been identified as the result of reviews at Wexford General and Roscommon Hospitals, and while the HSE has issued a statement that “most” patients will not have suffered an adverse effect due to errors by locum radiologists, patients with concerns are advised to consult their GPs.

It was revealed during the review at Cavan Monaghan Hospital that the errors by locum radiologists were responsible for 2,980 x-rays and scans being reviewed, and that one of the locums employed at the hospital was not on the Medical Council´s specialist register – so he should not even have been assessing x-ray images and scans.

The HSE has been criticised for allowing the situation to develop where there are not sufficient full-time radiologists to service Irish hospitals. Consultant rates were cut by 30 percent in 2012 and, although the pay cut was largely reversed earlier this year, it has left a shortfall in the number of radiologists available.

Usually, errors by locum radiologists are minimal, because there is usually a colleague available to give a second opinion. However, with some hospitals experiencing a severe shortage of qualified staff, consulting a colleague is not always an option. If it were, the mistakes by locum radiologists currently being reviewed could have been avoided.

Claim for Cerebral Palsy Compensation against Cavan General Hospital Heard in Court

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The hearing of a claim for cerebral palsy compensation against Cavan General Hospital resulted in a €2.1 million interim settlement of compensation being approved by a judge.

20th July 2007, Patrick Brannigan from Castleblayeny in County Monaghan was born by emergency Caesarean Section at Cavan General Hospital, after his mother – Niamh – had been given the synthetic drug Syntocinon to accelerate her labour.

The drug was given to Niamh despite an earlier CTG trace revealing that Patrick was in distress in the womb; and, rather than bring forward Patrick´s birth, the administration of Syntocinon had the effect of depriving him of oxygen.

Patrick (now seven years of age) was born with dyskinetic cerebral palsy and will never be able to lead an independent life due to his mismanaged birth. He has little means of communication, is confined to a wheelchair and is cared for full-time by his parents.

Patrick made a claim for cerebral palsy compensation against Cavan General Hospital through his mother, alleging that use of Syntocinon after a CTG trace had shown he was in distress was inappropriate and directly led to his dyskinetic cerebral palsy birth injuries.

Following an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Patrick´s birth, Cavan General Hospital admitted liability and issued an apology to Patrick and his family. A €2.1 million interim settlement of Patrick´s claim for cerebral palsy compensation against Cavan General Hospital was agreed, and the claim went to the High Court for approval of the settlement.

At the High Court earlier this week, details of Patrick´s birth were related to Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Judge Cross approved the settlement and adjourned the claim for cerebral palsy compensation against Cavan General Hospital so that an assessment of Patrick´s future needs can be conducted.

When the claim for cerebral palsy compensation against Cavan General Hospital returns to court, it is hoped that legislation is passed to allow for a structured payment settlement to be approved. If no such facility is in place by then, Patrick´s claim against Cavan General Hospital will be settled with a lump sum.

Compensation for the Failure to Treat Meningitis Approved in Court

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A settlement of compensation for the failure to treat meningitis has been approved at the High Court in favour of an eleven-year-old boy.

Matthew McGrath from Gorey in County Wexford was just seventeen months of age when he was admitted to Wexford General Hospital on 27th May 2004 after he had been uncharacteristically drowsy and vomiting fluids. Matthew was diagnosed with Haemophilus Influenza Type B – which is known to lead to meningitis and would normally be treated by antibiotics and fluids.

However, Matthew´s condition deteriorated overnight and he was considered by doctors to be in shock. Nonetheless Matthew underwent a lumbar puncture procedure to confirm suspected meningitis the following morning, despite accepted medical guidelines recommending against the procedure when a patient is in shock.

During the procedure Matthew´s spinal cord compressed, due to which he cannot move his arms or legs. Matthew spent the next two years of his life in hospital and was only allowed home when his parents campaigned for his discharge from hospital. Matthew´s parents are now his full-time carers, as he is permanently paralysed and can only breathe through a ventilator.

Through his mother – Cathy McGrath – Matthew claimed compensation for the failure to treat meningitis. In the claim it was alleged that if Matthew had been administered antibiotics and given fluids at the time of his admission into Wexford General Hospital, the lumbar puncture procedure would have been unnecessary and he would have avoided his devastating injuries.

After an investigation into the circumstances of Matthew´s admission into Wexford General Hospital, the HSE admitted liability and issued an apology to Matthew´s parents. An interim settlement of €3.7 million compensation for the failure to treat meningitis was agreed, but the settlement first had to be approved by a judge.

Consequently, at the High Court, the tale of Matthew´s devastating and unnecessary injuries was related to Mr Justice Matthew Cross. Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of compensation for the failure to treat meningitis and adjourned the case for five years. During this time reports into Matthew´s future needs can be carried out so that a final settlement can be agreed if legislation is not forthcoming to allow periodic payments of compensation.

Court Rules in Hydrocephalus Medical Negligence Claim

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The High Court has found in favour of a seven-year-old girl in a hydrocephalus medical negligence claim against the Health Service Executive.

Ava Kiernan developed the symptoms of hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”) when she was just a few months old. Hydrocephalus is a condition in which cerebral spinal fluid fails to drain from the brain and is often identified in young children by a rapid expansion of the head´s circumference or bulges appearing as “soft spots” around the skull.

According to Ava´s mother – Ruth Kiernan from Duleek in County Meath – a public health nurse failed to spot the symptoms of hydrocephalus in April 2008 despite Ruth raising concerns about her daughter´s condition. The nurse also failed to recall Ava for a further examination and mistakes were made in the measurement of Ava head in September of the same year.

As a result of the public health nurse´s failure to act, Ava developed mental and physical disabilities from which she will never recover. On Ava´s behalf, Ruth made a hydrocephalus medical negligence claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE), claiming that the nurse´s negligence was a contributory factor in her child´s lack of development.

The hydrocephalus medical negligence claim was contested by the HSE and the case was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court. Judge Cross found the HSE liable for Ava´s injuries after three weeks of testimony, and said that if Ava had been recalled four weeks after the initial head circumference measurement, her condition would have likely been identified and Ava would have been referred to a specialist.

Had Ava been referred to a specialist, the judge continued, the hydrocephalus could have been treated by a shunt which would have prevented the brain damage from occurring. Judge Cross said that the public health nurse´s failure to act was “materially causative” to Ava´s present condition and he adjourned the hydrocephalus medical negligence claim in order that an assessment of Ava´s future needs could be conducted to determine an appropriate compensation settlement.