Medical Negligence News

Judge Advised that Delayed Delivery at Galway Hospital may have resulted in Brain Injury

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The High Court has been told that a girl with cerebral palsy may not have been inflicted with any brain injury had she been delivered ten minutes earlier.

Seven-year-old Faye Walsh, taking the birth injury compensation action against the Health Service Executive and two consultant obstetricians through her mother Martine,  alleges that medical negligence and a breach of agreement in relation to the management and circumstances of her birth occurred at University Hospital Galway on August 15 2011. The defendants deny these claims.

Throughout her pregnancy with Faye, Martine Walsh was a private patient of Dr Una Conway, a consultant obstetrician. Dr Conway and Dr Declan Egan, the second defendant obstetrician, operate their own private medical practices at Brooklawn Practice, Brooklawn House, Galway West Business Park, while also being employed as consultants in the Galway hospital.

Mrs Walsh decided to use a private obstetrician as she had one previous birth by caesarean section and suffered from serious abdominal injuries when she was involved in a car accident in 2008.

The main legal argument, so far, in the case concerns the information that Mrs Walsh was given in relation to the dangers of a natural delivery for her. The defendants allege that the options and dangers associated were outlined and argue that Mrs Walsh wanted, and agreed, to a natural delivery.

The HSE denies the claims that birth was unreasonably delayed and stated that delivery of the baby via vacuum assisted delivery, using a plastic or metal cup attached to the baby’s head, was also completely reasonable.

In her birth injury compensation case Mrs Walsh said that she was aware that Dr Conway was on annual leave in August 2011 and would not be present at the delivery. However, she claims that she had been advised by Dr Conway that Dr Egan would be there and would be up to date with with her medical history.

Dr Conway and Dr Egan do not agree that Mrs Walsh was told Dr Egan would be present for the delivery. They claim that Mrs Walsh was supplied with an information sheet stating her delivery would be supervised by a covering consultant obstetrician on call for the hospital should Dr Conway be unavailable.

Mrs Walsh told the court that neither defendant obstetrician was called to the hospital when, or after, Ms Walsh began labour about 11pm on Sunday August 14 2011. This was despite her requests from this by her, and her husband, for one of them to be called. The court was told that the on call hospital obstetrician was called to the hospital from his home around 4.30am on the morning of August 15 for the delivery.

The obstetric registrar was also called and used a Kiwi cup on the baby’s head and that the delivery was completed by the on-call obstetrician at 4.55am that morning. Faye was delivered in poor health and had to be resuscitated straight away. The child suffers from spastic quadriplegia, is non verbal, a full-time wheelchair user and will need round the clock care for the rest of her life.

The case is expected to last a number of weeks.

€45,000 awarded to Child in Severed Finger Compensation Action

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Following an accident at a Donegal hotel that left a then two-year-old child with a serious finger injury, a compensation award of €45,000 has been approved at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

The accident in question took place in the Allingham Arms Hotel in Bundoran in July 2016 when the child was just two years old. Letterkenny Circuit Court was told that the child got his hand caught in a doorway and the top four millimetres of his finger were severed off in the course of the accident. The child, who is now four-years-old, was rushed to Sligo Regional Hospital before being transferred to a different hospital in Northern Ireland for further treatment.

The child, who cannot be named by order of the court, had to undergo a plastic surgery procedure in order to ensure that there was no lasting cosmetic damage to the limb. The court was told that the injury will have no adverse effect on the child’s dexterity and will not hinder him from any potential employment in the future. The injury was inflicted on his left hand and the child is right handed.

Letterkenny Circuit Court and presiding Judge John Aylmer was told that the child had suffered from some trauma due to the incident at the hotel in Bundoran. In the time period following the accident he had long periods where he experienced interrupted sleep. Thankfully, the child has not suffered from any lasting psychological issues and is no longer self conscious about the injury on his left-hand finger.

Judge Aylmer approved the €45,000 child hotel injury compensation award in relation to the accident that occurred at the Allingham Arms in Bundoran and the injuries suffered by the child.

 

Dead Woman’s Family Win €650,000 Compensation Claim for Shock

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A High Court birth injury negligence action in relation to nervous shock has been settled for €650,000 for the husband and son of a woman who died at the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) shortly after an emergency caesarean section.

31-year old Nora Hyland died on the operating table at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin, on February 13, 2012, just three hours after undergoing an emergency caesarean section that resulted in the birth of her son Frederick. There was no admission of liability by the National Maternity Hospital as part of the settlement.

Sasha Louise Gayer, the Hylands’ legal counsel, told the High Court that the family were content with the settlement but were too upset to attend court for the hearing. Ms Gayer told the Judge that Frederick was delivered successfully but Ms Hyland began to quickly lose a lot of blood following the procedure. A later inquest into her death returned a verdict of medical misadventure.  Mrs Hyland had to wait almost 40 minutes for a blood transfusion after she suffered severe bleeding in the emergency birth.

Dublin coroner Dr Brian Farrell, at the inquest in question, said that the cause of death was cardiac arrest which happened due to severe post-partum haemorrhage. However, he was not in  a position to say if the delay in Mrs Hyland receiving blood was a “definite” cause of her death.

The inquest also heard that a labelling mistake in the laboratory resulted in a 37-minute delay in Mrs Hyland having a blood transfusion. Along with this there were no emergency supply units of O-negative, the universal blood type, kept onsite at the National Maternity Hospital at the time of the delivery. Steps were quickly taken in theatre and a request for blood was submitted just after midnight.  A blood transfusion was carried out around 40 minutes later.

Nora Hyland’s husband, with an address at Station Road, Portmarnock, Co Dublin took the legal action against the NMH for nervous shock in relation to the traumatic circumstances at the time off his wife’s passing.

€750k Hospital Failure to Diagnose Compensation for Teacher who Suffered Brain Aneurysm

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A Galway teacher who fell to the ground suffering from a brain hemorrhage four years after being told that nothing had showed up in a brain scan has settled a High Court hospital negligence action for €750,000.

Barrister John O’Mahony, plaintiff Ms Lorraine Duffy’s legal representative, told the High Court she had gone to the Galway hospital in 2008 to have a brain scan as she was experiencing severe headaches and pain around her left eye. Following the scan Ms Duffy was advised that nothing abnormal was to be seen and she was allowed to go home. However in 2012, just four years later, Ms Duffy collapsed when she was out running.

Counsel said that, following Ms Duffy’s collapse, it was found that there was an aneurysm in the right side of the brain which should been evident in the initial brain scan four years earlier. Due to the failure to diagnose correctly in 2008 Ms Duffy now suffers from injuries to the brain.

Ms Duffy (42) of An Creagan, Barna, Co Galway, took the hospital medical negligence action against the Bon Secours Hospital, Renmore Road, Bon Secours Ireland Ltd and Bon Secours Health System Ltd of College Road, Cork which runs the Galway hospital. Along with this she sued for compensation from consultant radiologist Dr Davidson and Alliance Medical Diagnostic Imaging Ltd of Raheen, Co Limerick which was operated the diagnostic imaging at the Galway Hospital when the 2008 scan took place.

The wrong diagnosis of migraine headaches, to be managed with medication, was given to Ms Duffy. However, following her collapse in 2012 the matter was further looked into at a Dublin hospital and Ms Duffy was discovered to have been experiencing aneurysms.

Ms Duffy can now only do her job part time due to the brain injuries she suffered during the aneurysms. Sadly, she will suffer from the consequences for the rest of her life.

An apology by consultant radiologist, Dr Ian Davidson, of Bon Secours Hospital, Galway, was read aloud to the court in which he accepted and apologised for “the failings” during the care he provided that led to the delay in diagnosis of Ms Duffy’s inter cranial aneurysm.

His apology stated: “I would like to offer my sincere sympathy and regret for the upset and harm you have suffered arising from the subarachnoid hemorrhage in May 2012.”

 

Calls for Government to Compensate Swine Flu Vaccine Defects

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Two opposition TDs, Marc MacSharry and Clare Daly, urged the Government to “do the right thing” and offer mediation or a redress scheme over the swine flu vaccine controversy.

Sligo TD Mr MacSharry warned that the State’s stance to date has been outrageous and said that “the State Claims Agency (SCA) has spent over €2m rigorously defending discovery (of documents) in these cases alone”.

The Government failure to address the controversy has been described as “extraordinary” in light of major international studies, including an Irish report, which uncovered possible links between Pandemrix and the sleep disorder narcolepsy.

The Government fully indemnified the drug in 2009 to fast tack it into service, as happened in many other European countries. The drug manufacturers GSK insisted upon this. This meant that the Irish taxpayer became liable for any of the possible side effects from Pandemrix.To date the State has fully contested all compensation claims in relation to the drug.

There is currently a significant test case is now before the High Court. This may lead to up to to 100 further cases.

Mr McSharry TD has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris to immediately introduce a round of mediation talks to those who suffered due to the side effects of the drug.

In tandem with these calls campaign group Sound (Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder) said it is important proper that proper supports are given to children and young adults battling narcolepsy due to the side effects of the drug.

Co-founder of Sound Tom Matthews said “Sound has always stated that it is not anti-vaccine, and that the Pandemrix scandal was a result of the State rushing to get whatever vaccine it could and that it was acting with the best intentions. We believe it is way past time for the State to finally step up on this issue and to fulfil the duty of care it is morally bound to provide to these children and young adults.”

 

€850k Wrongful Death Compensation Awarded to Man in Relation to his Wife’s Death

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Cork man Donal O’Sullivan as settled his High Court compensation action for €850,000 in his wrongful death compensation action tkane against a family doctor and the Health Service Executive (HSE) in relation to the untimely and tragic death of his wide on November 8 2011.

Evidence was presented in court to show that his wife, mother-of-four Maureen O’Sullivan, who was in her 50s, should have been taken immediately to hospital after her blood test showed she was suffering from low levels of potassium. It was claimed in court that on November 4 2011 Ms O’Sullivan had seen Dr Crotty as she was experiencing some palpitations. Her doctor had a blood test was taken and sent for analysis at Cork University Hospital.  The result came back to the Doctor’s surgery on November 7 and showed severe hypokalaemia, a low level of potassium.

Doctor Crotty, it is alleged, did not have Ms O’Sullivan admitted to hospital immediately upon discovering she  was suffering from severe hypokalaemia. In addition to did Dr Crotty did not advise the patient that this is what her ailment was at the time.

Also, the Court was told that the HSE did not properly communicate the significance of the abnormal blood test results to the doctor and that there was no appropriate systems of communication evident. It was further claimed by Mr O’Sullivan’s legal representatives that the HSE had relied on a clerical officer to not relayed, with the test results, that they should be addressed immediately.

In a letter of apology read aloud in court, Dr Crotty and the HSE expressed how sorry they are for their role in the events that led to Ms O’Sullivan’s death. It spoke to the O’Sullivan family on behalf of Dr Crotty saying: “I deeply regret the tragic circumstances that led to the death of your wife, mother and sister Ms Maureen O’Sullivan. I apologise unreservedly for the part I played in the events leading up to her death. I am acutely conscious of the pain and suffering which this has caused to you all.”

Medical Misdiagnosis €40,000 Award After Death of Little Girl

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The family of a little girl who died due to a hole in her heart being not being diagnosed has been apologised to by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE must also pay over €40,000 clinical misdiagnosis compensation to the parents of the child.

Aimee Keogh aged two when she died. She had been waiting in an ambulance as she was due to be taken from Limerick Hospital to Our Lady’s Hospital for Children, Crumlin for a cardiac treatment on July 10, 2014.

Aimee had first attended hospital in March 2014 for febrile convulsions caused by tonsillitis. Consultant radiologist Padraig O’Brien said that after viewing Aimee’s X-ray, he was worried with regard to a septal defect – a hole between the chambers of Aimee’s heart.

Regardless of this, Aimee was not brought to see a paediatric cardiologist and more negligence was suffered when a paediatric neurologist and a treating paediatrician did not examine or identify irregularities in the X-ray, the Keogh family claimed in court.

Four months later, Aimee’s major congenital heart defect went undiagnosed until her condition worsened in the days leading up to her death.

Aimee had experienced 17 different seizures before being rushed to hospital on July 9 and was being about to be transferred to Dublin for a paediatric cardio echo procedure that can be performed by a paediatric cardio consultant working at Crumlin Hospital in Dublin.

An enquiry into the little girl’s death was told her compensation case was never examined by a paediatric cardiologist, but paediatric consultant Annemarie Murphy, who was in charge of Aimee’s case, said she thought that the X-ray was normal and a multi-disciplinary team who reviewed over the same X-ray around three weeks later also found it to be normal.

There were no paediatric cardiologists located outside Crumlin when this happened and children needing treatment would have had to wait up to two years to be seen by a specialist.

The Health Service Executive was told by Judge Eugene O’Kellyto to pay hospital misdiagnosis compensation of €40,000 to Aimee’s family.

Cork Street Assault Sees Man Awarded €750,000 After Suffering Severe Brain Injuries

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Cian McCarthy, a Cork Man, has been awarded over €750,000 Assault Compensation by in the High Court.

The man was trying to seek refuge get back in a Cork shop as he tried to escape from a group of people trying to assault him.  The shop proprietor would not permit him to enter and he (McCarthy) was struck with a massive fist blow to the head outside the premises. Mr McCarthy had previously been escorted from the Centra store that evening after a verbal row at the deli counter when somebody skipped the queue.

Justice Kevin Cross say Cian McCarthy was an innocent party and had sustained a significant brain injury in the attack outside Centra supermarket on Grand Parade, Cork city during the Cork Jazz Festival weekend in 2011.

The Judge said that the security person at the shop should have acknowledged recognised that the three individuals involved in the queue-jumping row were chasing Mr McCarthy and told the second security guard at the shop of this. Justice Cross said that defendants’ duty of care did not end at the door of the premises.

The also also ruled that in denying Mr McCarthy entry and in pushing him towards the direction of danger, the defendants should have been aware that Mr McCarthy would suffer some assault and possibly some injury.

The three people involved in the row about the queue-jumping chased Mr McCarthy from the shop, followed him and tried to box him in the head. The judge said that Mr McCarthy did not offer resistance and walked away trying to protect himself.

Mr McCarthy escaped from the attacker and ran towards the door of the shop seeking safety. The judge said the second security guard who was not aware that Mr McCarthy was the innocent party and did not witness him being beaten and pursued outside blocked Mr McCarthy’s re-entry to the premises. Mr Justice Cross concluded the security guard pushed Mr McCarthy back int he direction of the crowd.

The judge said that he felt that the best explanation for what occurred is a combination of the security person’s push and the struggle with the other man which caused the clash knocking over a young female who was standing outside the shop.

 

Birth Cerbral Palsy Action Sees Woman’s (20) Awarded €1.9m Interim Pay out

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Shauni Breen, a 20-year-old woman with cerebral palsy, has been awarded a €1.9m birth negligence pay out from the HSE due to the events surrounding her birth.

The High Court was advised that Ms Breen was delivered approximately 40 minutes after her Nicole, her healthy twin sister in Wexford General Hospital. She (Ms Breen) suffers from cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia and must use a wheelchair.

Ms Breen, who now live in Co Cork, took the legal action against the HSE over the circumstances of her December 30, 1997 birth. When the twins were 33 weeks and three days, it was claimed that their mother Marie Foley was admitted to Wexford General Hospital at 5am. Following this Nicole was delivered healthy at 6.10am.

It was alleged that that the management of the subsequent delivery of Shauni, which lasted for 40 minutes, was incompetent. As well as a failure to have an anaesthetist at the delivery a qualified team should also have been ready and prepared, it was argued. Due was due, it was argued, to the failure of those present to see that this was a high-risk labour.

In the Hight Court HSE refuted these claims and countered that manner of Ms Breen’s delivery complied with general and approved practice at the time in 1997. They (the HSE) claimed that the treatment adhered with conventional medical practice for a district hospital maternity unit at the time.

As Ms Breen had an abnormal presentation she should have been delivered by caesarean section within 15 minutes of her sister, her legal representatives argued.

They advised the Hight Court that Ms Breen had to be resuscitated before being moved to another hospital.

Counsel said the young woman was now doing well in her life and the day to day provided by her mother throughout her life had been of an extraordinary level.

Ms Breen is due to come back to court in five years’ time when her future life care needs will be re-assessed. Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the €1.9m interim settlement.

Lobby Groups Call for Full Review on Use of Epilim

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Calls have been made, by Epilespy Ireland, for a review of 40 cases of birth defects and disabilities that involved the use of the drug Epilim.

Epilim, a drug which the group has urged doctors not to prescribe for new child patients, is currently under review by the European Medicines Agency. Findings of the review are expected to result in new guidelines regarding its use being issue. Epilim is the brand name in Ireland for sodium valproate.

Epilepsy Ireland, and other campaigners, have asked that females being treated with the drug be considered for alternatives medications as a precaution. 1,700 female patients between the ages of 16 and 44, according to official figures released by the Health Service Executive (HSE), were prescribed Epilim during the calendar year 2016.

Issues experienced in Irish births involving the use of the drug include:

  • Foetal malformation
  • Tumours
  • Spina bifida
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Autism
  • Developmental issues
  • Spontaneous abortion

Epilim is currently being implicated in 40 cases of birth defects and disabilities, reported to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). Lobby groups are of the opinion that this figure might actually be closer to 400 in the 43 years that the drug has been prescribed for treatment in Ireland.

Additionally it has been reported that, in France, in excess of 4,000 children have been born with malformations since 1967 when the use of the drug on children in the womb began there. Dr Mahmoud Zureik, the scientific director of France’s ANSM, said that reports have shown the possibility of experiencing significant birth defects was, worldwide, four times higher in children born to a woman treated with Valproate (Epilim) for epilepsy, when cross referencde with females who were not prescribed the drug.

Commenting on the use of Epilim, the HPRA said that it has liaised with neurologists, obstetricians, paediatricians, psychiatrists, GPs, family planning clinics, specialist epilepsy nurses, pharmacists and HSE clinical leads on an ongoing basis. Following the completion of the review by the European Medicines Agency is it expected that the HPRA will meet to review the use of Epilim in Ireland by medical professionals.

The Minister for Health, Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Simon Harris is also due to meet with mothers of children who are believed to have suffered following being prescribed the drug to treat their epilepsy.