Medical Negligence News

Court Approves Settlement for Failure to Refer

Posted:

The High Court has approved the final settlement for a compensation claim made for a failure to refer after a sharp increase in antibodies was noted.

When Isabelle Sheehan was born in November 2004 at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in Cork, she was found to be suffering from spastic quadriparetic cerebral palsy. However, one month before her delivery, Isabelle’s mother – Catherine – had a blood test that showed an “alarming rise” in antibodies. These antibodies posed a risk to the foetus, but her obstetrician – Dr David Corr – did not refer the expectant mother to a specialist.

Isabelle is now eleven years old, and despite her difficulties communicating, has been described as “bright and intelligent”. A specially-designed machine helps her walk, and she attends an all-Irish school near where she lives. However, she will be reliant on round-the-clock care for the rest of her life.

Dr Corr admitted liability for Isabelle’s injuries when Catherine made a claim for compensation against him for his failure to refer her. During a hearing to award an initial interim compensation settlement in October 2011, he told the court that he “very much regrets the outcome in relation to Isabelle´s birth”.

In 2013, when a second interim compensation settlement was approved, Catherine requested that Isabelle, rather than have to undergo the week-long assessments that accompanied each interim settlement, that she receive a lump sum instead.

The court granted this request, and the case was heard earlier this month by President of the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Peter Kelly for approval of the €9 million settlement. Judge Kelly described the settlement as fair and reasonable, and agreed that it was understandable why this method was preferable. Before closing the case, he paid tribute to Colin and Catherine Sheehan, and said that Isabelle’s progress would not have been as notable as it is if they did not express the same dedication to her.

 

Compensation for Intra-Cerebral Subarachnoid Haemorrhage Awarded

Posted:

A seven-figure compensation settlement of compensation has been awarded for an undiagnosed cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage.

On 26th June 2006, Paula Dundon – aged forty-two from Brownstone in Co. Kildare – went to Naas General Hospital presenting with severe headaches, nausea and vomiting. She was then administered painkillers and administered to the hospital where a CT scan was performed on her brain.

However, doctors couldn’t identify what was causing Paula her pain. On the 19th June, a second scan was carried out which showed that Paula had a large bleed to the left side of her brain. Once this was identified, Paula was transferred to Beaumont Hospital.

Doctors at Beaumont Hospital diagnosed the bleed as an intra-cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage. However, the delay in diagnosis meant that Paula suffered permanent brain damage and is now reliant on round-the-clock care.

Acting on his wife’s behalf, Michael Dundon sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence and undiagnosed brain injury against the Health Service Executives. In the claim, he alleged that the his wife’s injuries could have been avoided and was  attributable to negligence. He also alleged that an adequate assessment of his wife would have mitigated the level of damage.

However, the HSE contested the claim that they failed to adequately assess Paula’s condition, though they admitted that the timeframe in which they acted was not appropriate.

Negotiations began between the parties, and a €2.7 million compensation settlement was agreed upon. However, as the claim was made on behalf of someone else, the case needed to be presented to a judge before it was approved. The hearing took place earlier this month in the High Court of Dublin before Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Judge Cross approved the settlement before giving his congratulations to Michael for the care he had given Paula over the past decade.

High Court Awards Compensation for Failure to Diagnose Organ Failure

Posted:

The High Court in Dublin has awarded a man an interim settlement of compensation who was left in a coma after medical staff failed to diagnose his organ failure in 2011.

When Robert Bolton, aged seventy-one, he underwent an operation to treat his oesophagus that was initially declared successful in St James Hospital, Dublin. However, the next morning, Robert suffered a heart attack because of respiratory failure.

After Robert was transferred to intensive care his condition continued to deteriorate, and as Robert was suffering from sepsis, he sustained a hypoxia ischaemic brain injury. This left him in a comatose state since 2011, interspersed with brief moments of minimal consciousness.

Angela, Robert’s wife, consulted a solicitor concerning the standard of care Robert received at the hospital after his operation and during his period in intensive care. After this, she proceeded to make a claim for compensation for the misdiagnosis of organ failure for her husband. She claimed that St James Hospital did not diagnose her husband’s sepsis or manage to meet the accepted criteria for systemic inflammatory response.

The hospital contested the claim for Robert’s condition, though they did partially admit liability for the substandard level of care Robert received at the hospital.

Negotiations lead to an interim settlement of compensation of €550,000, aiming to pay for the round-the-clock specialist care required by Robert for two years.

However, as Angela was making a claim for compensation on behalf of her husband, the settlement needed to be approved by the High Court. Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings and heard evidence of Robert’s heart attack, alleged failings by the hospital and the impact of those alleged failings.

Angela informed the judge that, though no amount of money would compensate for what happened to her husband, the money would ensure Robert was properly cared for. Judge Cross approved the settlement, adding that the figure was evidently the result of hard bargaining. He wished Angela and her family the best.

Settlement for Infant Injured by Designer Clothing Approved

Posted:

A judge awarded the sum to a five-year-old girl who was injured whilst wearing infant clothing made by the designer label Ralph Lauren.

 

To celebrate her birth, Amelia Duhy – born April 2010 – was bought a Ralph Lauren outfit from Brown Thomas, Dublin. Ten weeks later, Amelia and her parents – Robert and Julie Duhy of Drogheda, Co. Louth – went on holiday, bringing with them the outfit that consisted of a dress and pants combination.

Whilst on holiday, as she was preparing  her young daughter for bed, Julie noticed red welts on Amelia’s legs. Upon returning home, she brought Amelia to the GP, who informed her that it wasn’t an allergic reaction and proceeded to refer her to a consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon. The marks were identified as “secondary to a tight constriction band”.

Upon this identification, the outfit was sent to an expect in the field of elastic fabrics, who determined that the elastics used by the designer were twice the strength generally recommended for adults – let alone newborns. Julie proceeded to seek legal counsel, subsequently making a claim against Ralph Lauren Ireland Ltd.

Legal representatives of the designer label entered a full legal defence agains the claim, though they also offered a settlement of €17,500 for the injuries caused by the clothing company. The judge overseeing the court case, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, heard how Amelia’s mother had to massage BioOil into her daughter’s thighs for two and a half years until the marks faded.

The judge was told that the clothes had been manufactured in China and that the label with Ralph Lauren New York had been stitched in afterwards. The strong elastic never broke Amelia’s skin, and as such, the judge decided to approve the settlement and closed the hearing.

Editorial Claims HSE Open Disclosure Policy is not Enforced

Posted:

An editorial published by the an Irish newspaper has made a case for the lack of enforcement of the open disclosure policy for the Health Service Executive.

 

The open disclosure policy, which sets guidelines for when the HSE should inform families when there are issues with the treatment and healthcare provided to their loved ones, was officially enacted in November 2013. However, the aforementioned open editorial – published by the Irish Examiner – claimed that the policy was beneficial to those involved, yet is still not being utilised in hospitals.

 

Catherine Shanahan – who wrote the open editorial – made use of seven key medical negligence cases that were in the media over the past twelve months. Shanahan claims that these cases are demonstrative of how the Health Service Executive is not admitting liability and as such, if they want to learn be compensated for their difficulties, patients and their families are forced to take the case to court, which is both costly and emotionally exhausting.

 

Gill Russell’s case, well known because of the battle with the States Claim Agency, was one case used by Shanahan to illustrate her point. Born in 2006 after  “prolonged and totally chaotic” delivery which left her deprived of oxygen in utero, Gill now suffers from cerebral palsy. The HSE only issued an apology in 2012, which was also when an interim settlement of compensation was awarded.

 

However, no system of payments was ever enacted and in 2014, the Russell family were back in the High Court. They awarded a €13.5 million lump settlement – the largest ever awarded by the state for cerebral palsy. However, unsatisfied, the State Claims Agency then made an attempt to appeal the settlement. The appeal was initially rejected, which caused the agency to take it to the Supreme Court – delaying yet again the award of the funds to the family.

 

Skye Worthington’s and Katie Manton’s cases were also mentioned in the piece. Both suffered similar circumstances to Gill Russell, and both waited for years to receive an apology from the Health Service Executive for their mismanaged births. However, when an apology did come, Katie’s father said it was “too little too late”

 

Shanahan’s editorial makes a clear and compelling case for the claim that the policy is not being applied in Irish hospitals, and that the money put towards an information campaign concerning the policy was a waste of government funds.

 

Couple Awarded Five-Figure Settlement of Compensation for Wrongful Death of Baby

Posted:

The High Court of Dublin has approved a five-figure settlement of compensation for a couple whose newborn son died because of errors in his delivery.

On the 20th November 2012, Fiona Watters was admitted to the Cavan General Hospital for the imminent arrival of her fist baby. By the morning of the 22nd November, her waters broke. She was then administer Prostaglandin to hasten the delivery of her baby.

The doses of Prostaglandin were gradually increased over the course of the day, though attempts at a natural birth that evening failed. The attending midwife sought advice from Dr Salah Aziz, a consultant obstetrician, and informed him that there were indications of foetal distress and that the baby had not yet crowned.

When Dr Aziz arrived at Fiona’s ward he learned that the only out-of-hours operating theatre was occupied. As such, he attempted both a vacuum and forceps delivery, though both failed. Eventually the operating theatre was made available, but by the time the required Caesarean Section was carried out Jamie, Fiona’s son, was very poorly.

Jamie was then transferred to the special care unit at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital, though he died just two days later. Initial investigations into Jamie’s death were put to an end when Dr Aziz pointed out that investigators appointed by the HSE had failed to follow protocol.

However, despite this setback, Fiona and her partner, Francis Flynn, were still able to pursue a claim for wrongful death as they had received an advanced copy of the inquest’s report.

The HSE disputed liability for Jamie’s condition for nearly twelve months after the claim was made. Eventually, a second investigation to be carried out by an independent body was commissioned as two more babies had died in the same hospital.

At the end of 2014, Jamie’s cause of death was determined to be medical misadventure. In the coroner’s report, it was outlined how the administration of high doses of Prostaglandin, Dr Aziz’s failure to report Jamie’s imminent arrival to the registrar and the lack of a second out-of-hours theatre were all contributory factors to Jamie’s death.

The State Claims Agency then entered negotiations with Fiona and Francis concerning a compensation settlement. Eventually, a settlement of €70,000 was agreed between the parties, which was approved by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys in the High Court earlier this month. Judge Humphreys added that €5,000 of this settlement should be paid into court funds such that Fiona and Francis’ daughter can be compensated in the future.

Value of Compensation Settlement for Hepatitis C Increased after Appeal

Posted:

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.

 

Seven Patients Make Claim for Negligent Hysterectomies

Posted:

A group of seven former patients of a gynaecologist found negligent by the Medical Council have made claims for negligent procedures. 

The gynaecologist in question, Dr Peter van Greene, performed the procedures at the Aut Even private hospital in Kilkenny between 2009 and 2011. They each filed before a recent hearing at the Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Committee. The committee found Dr van Greene guilty of two counts of poor professional performance.
Helen Cruise, along with three other anonymous women, made the complaints against Dr van Greene. Helen had a hysterectomy at the private hospital, but had not previously given her informed consent to the procedure. Ever since, Helen has said she’s suffered with depression as a result of the poor standard of treatment she received at the facility.
Helen also testified at the hearing held by the Fitness to Practice Committee, telling the committee that the procedure – along with any potential risks – was only explained after she was given her anaesthetic. She also told of how she needed to be given six units of blood because of post-operative bleeding.
The committee also heard of how the currently unemployed gynaecologist recently filed for bankruptcy in the United Kingdom. His most recent place of employ was the Whitfield Clinic in Co. Waterford, where he was employed whilst an investigation into his conduct was being carried out.
Though Dr van Greene has filed for bankruptcy, this should not mean that his seven former patients will not be able to claim compensation. If they are awarded any compensation, the settlements will be paid out by the gynaecologist’s former medical indemnity insurance company.

Family Initiate Claim for Wrongful Death

Posted:

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.

 

Teenager Compensated for Paralysing Birth Injuries

Posted:

An eighteen year-old man has received a seven-figure settlement of compensation for birth injuries he sustained a mismanaged delivery and negligent post-natal care.

On the 6th September 1996, Thomas O’Connor was born at the Sligo General Hospital. As he was suffering from foetal distress syndrome, Thomas was delivered via an emergency Caesarean Section. However, when he was delivered he lacked any vital signs and needed to be resuscitated with a breathing tube by staff.

Thomas’ mother, Ann, claims that both his delivery and postnatal care were negligent, which resulted in Thomas being deprived of oxygen twice. This caused Thomas to sustain severe brain damage that rendered him a spastic quadriplegic. He is also bling and needs to obtain nourishment via a tube.

Acting on her son’s behalf, Ann made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Sligo General Hospital. In the claim, she alleged that Thomas’ birth had been delayed for up to four hours. Additionally, she claimed that the breathing tube that had been used to resuscitate Thomas had been inserted incorrectly, which caused Thomas to have a heart attack whilst in Intensive Care.

The allegations were disputed by the Health Service Executives, who denied that they were liable for Thomas’ injuries. The case then proceeded to Dublin’s High Court, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings. During the hearing, an expert witness testified that a CTG trace that had showed that Thomas was suffering from foetal distress had been stopped. Additionally, the tube was inserted to a depth of fourteen centimetres, against guidelines that it should have been inserted to a depth of nine to ten centimetres.

A settlement of compensation worth €1.75 million had been offered by the Sligo General Hospital without an admission of liability. Judge Cross proceeded to approve the settlement, commenting that he was pleased that the ordeal, which had been very drawn-out, was finally finished for the family.