Doctor Negligence Claims

Claim for Untimely Death due to Medical Negligence Resolved after Court Hearing


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.

Court Approves Settlement of Compensation for Wrongful Death due to Misdiagnosis of Cancer


A judge at the High Court has approved a €62,500 settlement of compensation for a wrongful death due to the misdiagnosis of cancer.

The family of Sharon McEneaney – who died aged 31 in April 2009 from cancer of the abdomen – were at the High Court in Dublin this week to hear an apology read to them by a representative of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, were Sharon first attended in October 2007 with an abdominal pain.

The court was told how Dr Etop Samson Akpan failed to conduct tests that could have identified a tumour and that it was not until former TD Dr Rory O´Hanlon intervened on Sharon´s behalf that a biopsy was taken in June 2008.  By then, the cancer in Sharon´s abdomen had advanced significantly and she died ten months later.

The court also heard that in January 2012 Dr Akpan was found guilty of a poor professional performance by the Medical Council of Ireland´s Fitness to Practise Committee, and that a report prepared by the Health Service Executive (HSE) after an investigation into Sharon´s death recommended thirty-eight changes to the current procedures at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital to prevent further wrongful deaths due to a misdiagnosis of cancer.

The apology was read to the family by Margaret Swords – representing the Louth & Meath Hospital Group – who acknowledged that Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital had failed Sharon, and who informed the court that the hospital was making progress in implementing the HSE´s recommendations. The court heard that a settlement of compensation for a wrongful death due to the misdiagnosis of cancer had been offered amounting to €62,500.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that Sharon´s mother – Jane – is to receive €27,100 of the settlement, and €10,000 would cover the expense of Sharon´s funeral and other costs related to her death. The remainder is to be divided between Sharon´s four sisters and brothers. According to the family´s barrister, the family are satisfied with the terms of the settlement and Ms Swords´ apology.

Before she closed the hearing, Judge Irvine said that the McEneaney family had shown “marvellous fortitude” in the face of such a tragic loss, and “courage and tenacity” during the inquest into Sharon´s wrongful death.

Woman Wins Claim for Adverse Reaction to Medication


A woman in Philadelphia has won her claim for an adverse reaction to medication which caused her to go into cardiac arrest from which she suffered permanent brain damage.

In June 2010, Jacqueline DiTore attended the Outpatient´s Department of the Abington Surgical Centre in Pennsylvania for scheduled surgery on her nose. Prior to starting the surgery, her surgeon – Dr Warren Zager – asked a nurse to prepare an injection for a local anaesthetic and soak some cotton balls in a nasal decongestant (Afrin) so that they were ready if there was excessive bleeding during the procedure.

The nurse poured the nasal decongestant into a cup in order to soak the cotton balls before preparing the injection; but a second nurse mistook the contents of the cup as the anaesthetic, drew the Afrin into a syringe and handed it to the doctor. Unaware that the syringe had been filled with nasal decongestant, Dr Zager injected the Afrin into Jacqueline´s nose, and then left his patient to prepare for the surgery.

An anaesthetist present in the operating room saw that Jacqueline´s heart rate had decreased to 36 beats per minute and – unaware that Jacqueline had been injected with sufficient Afrin to cause a 100-fold narrowing of the blood vessels – administered an anticholinergic which brought Jacqueline´s heart rate up to 80 beats per minute.

Dr Zager returned to the operating room to begin the procedure, but Jacqueline still had feeling in her nose. The doctor asked for another injection of anaesthetic to be prepared, and it was then that the mix-up was realised. Unaware of the effect that the Afrin had on Jacqueline´s heart rate, Dr Zager chose to continue with the surgery and injected more anaesthetic into Jacqueline´s nose.

Following the second injection, Jacqueline´s heart rate suddenly increased to 140 beats per minute and her blood pressure registered 260/150. Dr Zager administered Labetalol (a drug used to lower high blood pressure) and Jacqueline´s blood pressure fell so low so quickly that she went into cardiac arrest. Jacqueline was rushed to nearby Abington Memorial Hospital where she was resuscitated.

Soon after her recovery from the cardiac arrest, it became apparent that Jacqueline´s adverse reaction to medication had caused brain damage which left her with impaired cognitive abilities, short-term memory loss and difficulty with her speech. Doctors told Jacqueline that her brain injuries were likely to deteriorate as she gets older and, after seeking legal advice, she made a compensation claim for an adverse reaction to medication against the Abington Surgical Centre and Dr Zager.

Both defendants denied that they were liable for the adverse reaction that caused Jacqueline to go into cardiac arrest but at the Montgomery County Court in Philadelphia before Judge Thomas M. Del Ricci, a jury delivered a verdict in Jacqueline´s favour and awarded her $5.1 million in settlement of her claim for an adverse reaction to medication. The jury found Dr Zager to be 38.5 percent negligent for the adverse reaction and the Abington Surgical Centre 61.5 percent negligent for the circumstances which caused it.

Interim Settlement of Compensation for Failure to Refer Approved at Court


The High Court has approved an interim settlement of compensation for a failure to refer in a case involving an eight-year-old girl from Mallow in County Cork.

In November 2004, Isabelle Sheehan was born at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in County Cork, suffering from quadriplegic cerebral palsy after a paediatric consultant had failed to refer her mother to an expert in foetal medicine when the results of a blood test showed that Isabelle´s mother had a dangerously high level of antibodies.

An investigation into Catherine Sheehan´s pregnancy after Isabelle´s birth revealed that the antibodies in Catherine´s blood had been in conflict with those of her husband – Colm Sheehan – and that had Catherine had been referred to an expert by her paediatric consultant – Dr David Corr – Isabelle´s condition of quadriplegic cerebral palsy could have been avoided.

Isabelle made a claim for injury compensation for the failure to refer through her mother against Dr Corr – who admitted that he had made a mistake in the management of Catherine Sheehan´s pregnancy, and accepted liability for Isabelle´s injuries.

Two years ago – in October 2011 – Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill approved an interim settlement of €1.9 million compensation and adjourned Isabelle´s case to allow for legislation to be passed that would enable Isabelle to receive a structured payment settlement.

However, legislation has not yet been passed to facilitate such an arrangement, and the family were back in the High Court – this time in front of Mr Justice Kevin Cross – to have a further settlement of compensation for the failure to refer approved.

After hearing the circumstances of Isabelle´s birth and the injuries she had sustained as a result of Dr Corr´s negligence, Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved a second interim payment of €635,000, wished Isabelle good luck for the future and adjourned her case for a further two years.

$8.3m Settlement for DePuy ASR Hip Replacement Device Awarded


The first claim to be heard in court has resulted in an award of $8.3 settlement for DePuy ASR hip replacement device being made to a former prison officer.

The compensation claim filed by Loren Kransky (65) was brought forward ahead of the Multi District Litigation (MDL) due to be heard in Ohio in May, as the Mr Kransky is terminally ill from heart disease, diabetes and kidney cancer.

Solicitors at the Los Angeles Superior Court argued that Kransky had to have a follow-up hip replacement operation – causing him pain and suffering – due to serious levels of chromium and cobalt in his bloodstream caused by metal-on-metal friction inside his ASR XL Acetabular hip replacement device.

They, the solicitors, claimed that Johnson and Johnson – the father company of DePuy Orthopaedics – marketed the faulty hip replacement devices knowing that the ASR systems were defective, effectively accusing them of fraud along with negligence which would have permitted Kransky to qualify for significant punitive damages.

Johnson and Johnson disputed that they were aware that the ASR hip replacements were faulty in 2007 – the year in which Kransky had his first hip replacement surgery – and argued Kransky´s claim for DePuy ASR hip replacement device compensation on the grounds that Kransky´s pain and suffering was due to his pre-existing health conditions.

The jury at the Los Angeles Superior Court found that Johnson and Johnson had not behaved “with malice” by promoting their product in 2007, but were in agreement that the product was defective and awarded Kransky $8 million in settlement of his DePuy ASR hip replacement claim, with a further $338,000 to account for the medical expenses he has built up to date.

After the ruling was announced Johnson and Johnson revealed that it intends to appeal the decision, as the precedent of $8 million in DePuy hip device compensation for pain and suffering could be greatly inflated when claims for claimants who do not have a terminal illness are heard in the MDL action in Ohio.

Negligent Gynaecologist Compensation Awarded to Secretary


A woman, who sustained both physical and emotional injuries due to the medical negligence of a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, has been awarded €438,000 in negligent gynaecologist compensation for a hysterectomy following a court hearing.

Cynthia Kinsella (52) from Terenure, Dublin, underwent the operation at Mount Carmel Hospital in April 2008 after she developed menorrhagia – a condition which leads to serious menstrual bleeding. She began leaking from her bladder less than a month from the procedure – a condition referred to medically as a fistula – which lead to loss of amenity and serious psychological trauma.

The operating surgeon who presided over the procedure – consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist  Dr. Gerry Rafferty – also assisted at a subsequent operation in July in an effort to mend the issue; where it was deduced that the condition may have been caused by a misplaced suture in Ms Kinsella’s bladder. Once she was aware that the likely cause of her injury was her gynaecologist’s negligence, Cynthia sought legal counsel and went on to made a claim for negligent hysterectomy compensation.

Dr Rafferty did not accept liability for Cynthia´s injuries – claiming that her injury was due to a rare complication of the hysterectomy operation – however, at Dublin´s High Court, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill threw out the surgeon’s case and ruled in favour of Cynthia’s negligent gynaecologist compensation claim.

In calculating how much Cynthia should receive in compensation for a negligent hysterectomy, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O´Neill was told that in November 2008 Ms Kinsella had been made redundant from her senior secretarial job with an engineering company. Due to a combination of her fistula injury and the severe anxiety disorder she suffereed as a result of her surgeon´s medical negligence, Cynthia could not find a role elsewhere and has not worked since leaving the engineering firm.

The judge said that he was happy that Cynthia´s ability to find a job had been affected by her condition and that there was little potential of her finding employment in the future due to it. Awarding Cynthia €200,000 for past and future pain and suffering, €225,000 for past and future loss of income and €13,184 for gynaecologist negligence special damages, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill stated that had Cynthia not suffered as a result of the hysterectomy procedure, he felt she would have in all probability found alternative work after her redundancy.

Compensation for Delayed Hospital Negligence Approved in Court


A settlement of compensation for delayed hospital negligence has been approved at the High Court in the case of Brid Courtney – two years after the brain damaged child was awarded an interim payment.

Brid, who is now nine years old and comes from Ardfert in County Kerry, was born in Tralee General Hospital in February 2003 suffering from brain damage after medical staff at the hospital allegedly did not act on a sudden and dramatic change in the foetal heart rate pattern.

As a consequence of the slowing heart beat, Brid suffered perinatal asphyxia in the womb and because of the oxygen starvation is now confined to a wheelchair from which she has to be lifted bodily. She is also unable to speak and has to rely on her eyes and facial expressions to communicate with her family.

Following a medical negligence claim due to delayed treatment  made through her mother – Deidre – the Health Service Executive agreed to settle the claim without admission of liability and, in November 2010, Mr Justice John Quirke approved an interim payment of 2 million Euros and adjourned the case for two years to allow for the introduction of periodic payments.

However, a system for periodic compensation payments for catastrophic injuries has still not been brought in by the government and – two years after the first payment of compensation for delayed hospital action was approved – the case returned before the court for the approval of a final settlement.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard evidence from experts that a further 9 million Euros in compensation for delayed hospital negligence would be required to provide adequate care for Brid through the remainder of her expected life and, as both Brid´s mother and the Health Service Executive agreed with the expert´s assessment, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement.