15-year-old Rory Saunders has taken a €60,000 birth injury compensation action against the master of the National Maternity Hospital and Dr Stephen Carroll, the surgeon who performed the Cesarean section procedure as he medical negligence at childbirth inflicted him with a cut on his cheek.
Rory’s legal representative Barrister Mark O’Connell informed Circuit Court president Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that his (Rory’s) cheek was cut when he was being delivered by Cesarean Section on September 9, 2003.
O’Connell told the judge that the Caesarean delivery injury compensation action as Rory’s left cheek was cut by the scalpel used in the clinical procedure that Dr Carroll carried out. After the clinical procedure was completed the cut was cleaned out and Steri-Strips were put implemented.
Rory’s permanent 2.5cm cheek scar can be seen when standing close by to him and is more visible during the summertime. The cheek scar has become stressful for Rory as he has been on the receiving end of negative comments during school and among his friends.
The claims were not accepted by Dr Carroll, who is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and an expert in high-risk pregnancies, and the National Maternity Hospital. Plastic surgeon Matt McHugh said that they were of the opinion that the scar was not going to improve in the future.
Judge Groarke considered the medical reports provided by two eminent consultants into court and was also told that a birth injury compensation offer of €25,000 had been put on the table.
He (Judge Groarke) said he was not happy with the compensation offer before the court. he was of the opinion that one of the medical reports appeared to give “a very blunt view” on the injury. He felt this particular expert, who had not seen his colleague’s medical report before formulating an opinion, should be asked to review the other medical report.
The birth injury compensation proceedings were adjourned until such time as the authors of the reports can reconsider the facts.
€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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.