Doctor Negligence Claims
€268m was paid out in compensation related to medical negligence and hospital negligence in last 24 months by the State Claims Agency (SCA).
A response to a Dáil question included previously unreleased figures in relation to this. Minister for Health Simon Harris said the figures show that the amount of of compensation paid out by the State Claims Agency (SCA) in 2018 was €268.45m in relation to hospital and medical negligence cases – an surge of €18.6 million – or 7.5% – on the €249.77m paid out in 2017. This means that the entire amount of compensation for hospital and medical negligence handed over in 2017-18 to €518.2m.
The Dáil Question was submitted by Michael McGrath T.D., Fianna Fáil’s Finance spokesman. The response also revealed that the highest sum handed over in 2018 for was €15.5m to a person suffering with cerebral palsy since birth.
Medical Negligence compensation claims take with regard to birth/pregnancy negligence or cerebral palsy were responsible for seven of the top ten hospital or medical negligence compensation awards during 2018. The figures reveal that, in the 7 cerebral palsy legal compensation actions, a complete amount of €60.3m compensation was awarded in order for adequate treatment to be provided for the people involved for the rest of their lives.
The other slots in the top ten were cases where a compensation award of €6.3 million for a clinical procedure at surgery was paid out and a separate payout of €5.9m in similar circumstances.
The lowest amount of medical negligence injury compensation awarded in the top ten was €4.37m relating to a clinical procedure in the Gynaecology sector.
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.”
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.”
Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that liability in the case was accepted in recent weeks. He approved the settlement.
Roger Murray, joint Managing Partner at Callan Tansey solicitors – speaking at a conference on medical negligence with solicitors, medical professionals and patients in attendance in September – said that roughly 1,000 unnecessary deaths are caused every year in Ireland due to medical negligence.
The legal expert went on to add that up to 160,000 hospitals visitors suffer injuries due to human error. Mr Murray was speaking at the Pathways to Progress conference on medical negligence and stressed that there is “no compo culture” to be seen when it comes to Irish medical negligence compensation legal cases, saying that he believes that what we are seeing currently is just “the top of a very murky iceberg”.
From his experience in working on a number of high-profile medical error compensation cases, Mr Murray said that he believes that not all people suffering due to medical negligence report it while the HSE is made aware of 34,170 “clinical incidents” every year. Of these 575 resulted in compensation claims against the HSE, a rate of less than 1.7 per cent.
Mr Murray told those at the conference that the most often experienced cases are involving surgery (36 per cent) medicine (24 per cent), maternity (23 per cent) and gynaecology (7.5 per cent).
He also stressed that while injured parties and families do have empathy for medical workers who make errors what “they cannot abide is systemic and repeated errors”.
The legal expert called for thorough reviews when mistakes are experienced, saying that he had witnessed many inquests where families of those who had died learned that desktop reviews had been completed after a death, and the results were not presented to the appropriate staff members.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A High Court judge has allowed a claim for steroid side effect compensation to proceed after denying the manufacturer of the steroid an application to dismiss.
Mr Justice George Birmingham denied Pfizer´s application to dismiss the claim for steroid side effect compensation after hearing how forty-three year old Lorna Savage from Cobh in County Cork had been prescribed Deltacortril by her GP in 1997 to treat vasculitis – a skin disorder in blood vessels are damaged and group together to form an unsightly and irritable rash.
The judge was told that after taking the steroid tablets for several years, Lorna developed Avascular Necrosis – a rare but well-chronicled side effect of Deltacortril – a condition which prevents blood from reaching the bones, which consequently disintegrate as the bone tissue dies. Judge Birmingham heard that, by 2001, Lorna had undergone surgery to have one hip and both knees replaced, was confined to a wheelchair and was taking morphine to manage the pain.
Lorna made a claim for steroid side effect compensation against the GP who originally prescribed the steroid – Dr. Michael Madigan – and her consultant doctor at Cork University Hospital – Dr. M Molloy – who continued to prescribe Deltacortril after Dr. Madigan´s death in 1999. Lorna alleged that her Dr. Madigan had not sufficiently investigated her skin condition and had negligently prescribed Deltacortril when he should have been aware of the potential side effects.
Lorna´s claim for steroid side effect compensation against Dr. Molloy alleged that he had continued to negligently prescribe Deltacortril after Dr. Madigan´s death and had failed to recognise the symptoms of Avascular Necrosis despite her deteriorating condition. A claim for compensation was also made against Pfizer on the grounds that the pharmaceutical company had failed to advise the continued use of Deltacortril could result in Avascular Necrosis and that Pfizer did not give any indication on their literature that drinking alcohol while taking the steroid tablets increased the risk.
The two living defendants and the estate of Dr Madigan denied liability, and Pfizer made an application to have Lorna´s claim for steroid side effect compensation thrown out on the grounds that there had been an “inexcusable delay” in bringing her case to court. After hearing arguments from both sides, Mr Justice George Birmingham determined that the delay in bringing the case to court was “excusable” as the delay had been attributable to Lorna having to undergo more surgery.
The judge said that the prolonged recovery period from her recent surgery had prevented Lorna from instructing her solicitors and this, he considered, was a valid reason for the delay. Judge Birmingham refused Pfizer´s application to throw out the case and ordered that Lorna´s claim for steroid side effect compensation be scheduled for a hearing in the High Court later this year.
A widower´s claim for an untimely death due to medical negligence has been resolved at the High Court after the HSE apologised for their error and a settlement of €165,000 was approved.
On 12th January 2006, Helen Malone (60) from Carlow died at St Luke´s General Hospital in Kilkenny of systemic sepsis and multiple organ failure due to a bowel perforation four days after she had undergone surgery. An inquest into her death concluded that, if the operation had been performed when Helen was first admitted to the hospital, she would have survived.
Helen´s consultant George Nessim was subsequently charged with four counts of professional misconduct relating to Helen´s death and found guilty by the Irish Medical Council in 2009. Despite the Council´s findings, the HSE denied liability for the standard of care Helen had received, and her widower – Patrick Maloney – made a compensation claim for an untimely death due to medical negligence against St. Luke´s General Hospital and the HSE.
The HSE failed to acknowledge that Helen´s untimely death had been attributable to medical negligence until shortly before a scheduled court hearing. A settlement of compensation amounting to €165,000 to account for Patrick´s mental anguish and that of his six adult children but, due to the nature of Helen´s untimely death, the settlement had to be approved at the High Court.
After five separate hearings were postponed, the circumstances of Helen´s wrongful death were related to Mr Justice Ryan. Judge Ryan and members of the Malone family heard an apology read to them by a representative of St Luke´s General Hospital in which the Hospital and the HSE apologised for the failings in treatment and care that were afforded to Helen.
The apology acknowledged that the treatment provided for Helen did not meet the appropriate standard of care, and that it resulted in a series of events “giving rise to her untimely death”. Judge Ryan noted that Patrick´s compensation claim for an untimely death due to medical negligence did not include aggravated damages and – commending the two parties for settling a “difficult, painful and tragic case” – he approved the settlement.