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.
It has been announced that a free cervical smear test will be provided to anyone who has concerns following the recent revelations following the CervicalCheck scandal.
The Government has offered this to ease the concerns of anyone who might be worried regarding the results of previously carried out cervical smear tests. This announcement follows a meeting of senior doctors who sought to address the concerns over the confidence in the CervicalCheck Screening programme.
The CervicalCheck Scandal came to light following a cancer misdiagnosis settlement of €2.5m was announced for Ms Vicky Phelan last week. Ms Phelan underwent a cervical smear in 2011 that gave no indication that she had cervical cancer. However, a audit carried out in 2014 showed that the results of that test were incorrect. Despite this she (Ms Phelan) was only advised in 2017 that she had contracted cervical cancer. Unfortunately, in January 2018 she was told that she has just 12 months to live.
The Irish Cancer Society has also announced that it is providing emergency funding for an additional 500 counselling sessions in their centres nationwide. The Society made this announcement in order to alleviate some of the worry among those impacted by the controversy.
The Irish Cancer Society provides funding to the following Support Centres across the country who deliver free professional counselling:
ARC Cancer Support Centres, Dublin
Arklow Cancer Support Group, Wicklow
Balbriggan Cancer Support Centre
Ballinasloe Cancer Support Centre
Cancer Support Sanctuary, LARCC
Cois Nore, Kilkenny Cancer Support Centre
Cork ARC Cancer Support House
Cuan Cancer Social Support and Wellness Group, Co Cavan
Cúisle Centre, Portlaoise
Dochas Offaly Cancer Support, Tullamore
Donegal Cancer Flights & Services
Eist, Carlow Cancer Support Centre
Gary Kelly Cancer Support, Drogheda
Greystones Cancer Support
Hope Cancer Support Centre, Enniscorthy
Letterkenny Donegal– administered through Sligo Cancer Support
Ms Vicky Phelan – a resident of Annacotty, Co Limerick Vicky Phelan – a terminally ill mother of two, has settled her an wrong diagnosis compensation action for €2.5m from US lab Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc.
The US company tested Mrs Phelan’s smear sample in 2011 and incorrectly told her that she did not have cervical cancer at that time. In January 2017 she was advised that she has less than 12 months to live. This followed from a 2014 review which exposed the 2011 lab results as flawed. Despite the company being aware of this they failed to notify Mrs Phelan of the 2011 error for another three years.
Mrs Phelan’s legal counsel revealed, during the High Court action if the cancerous cells had been correctly identified in 2011 she would have had a straightforward surgical procedure and normally gives the person receiving treatment a 90% chance of surviving cervical cancer.
In an interview with RTÉ television Ms Phelan revealed that she felt that a minimum of three women who had earlier got an all-clear smear result had since died due after suffering from cervical cancer. Later this week the Health Service Executive (HSE) will release the amount of women who passed away once the review has been completed.
The legal action filed against the HSE was thrown out and the settlement was awarded against the US laboratory Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas only. There was no acceptance of liability.
Vicky Phelan has been prescribed a new drug recently and it is also hoped that she will be accepted on to the US-based programme that provides a radical new innovative treatment and has raised €200,000 through a Go Fund Me web page to date.
According to figures released yesterday, 206 cervical cancer cases reviewed featured the delay in the cancer being diagnosed after the smear tests suggests that these women missed out on an earlier intervention.
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.
Roscommon nativer Bernadette Surlis, aged 60, has had hospital misdiagnosis compensation action against the Health Service Executive (HSE) settled for €5m.
The compensation action was taken after the treatment she was given at Sligo General Hospital in 2013 was found to be inadequate. Senior Counsel Mr Cush argued that, if Ms Surlis been diagnosed speedily and properly in November 2013, she would not have suffered the life changing injuries that she did. He (Mr Cush) told the court that the Health Service Executive admitted liability.
Upon attending Sligo General Hospital on November 3, 2013, Ms Surlis was suffering from a pounding headache, some vomiting and had a dilated left pupil on her eye. Despite this she was categorised as a ‘triaged’ case and had to wait to be cared for an additional three hours. ‘Triaged’ refer to the fact that she was not to be treated as an immediate need case requiring immediate attention.
She was examined for glaucoma symptoms and the allowed to return home. However, she came back to the hospital on the following day she said that the severity of her suffering was “appreciated for the first time”.
Ms Surlis, a resident at Drinaum, Strokestown in Co Roscommon, was then taken to to Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital on November 5 as she suffered a hemorrhage and severe/permanent injury. Mr Cush said the opinion of specialists was that Ms Surlis, who now needs permanent treatment, will only marginally improve over the duration of her life. She is aware of the severity of her injuries and has difficulty communicating with other, though she can do so with the help of her close family members – three grown children and four sisters who live close to her in Co Roscommon.
It was stated that if she had been transferred to Beaumont Hospital when she first attended the Sligo Hospital, she may have been treated in a proper fashion manner and experienced a complete recovery.
Judge Mr Justice Kevin Cross remarked that the medical misdiagnosis compensation settlement was a “reasonable and very good one”.
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.
Birth defect claims have started to be filed against French manufacturer of Epilim, by parents whose unborn children were exposed to toxic chemicals in the womb.
Depakine was introduced into France in the 1960s as an anti-epilepsy drug. Eventually, it started to be introduced into Ireland under the trade name Epilim. The drug has also been prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, migraine and other chronic pain conditions. The active ingredient in the sodium valproate-GABA-stabilises electrical activity in the brain.
However, when taken by woman during pregnancy, the sodium valproate is broken down into valproic acid. When this molecule enters the bloodstream, it can cause serious health issues to unborn children. The birth defects, generally called “foetal valproate syndrome”, take the form of a range of congenital and development issues including autism and spina bifida.
The risks of foetal valproate syndrome due to taking Epilim during pregnancy were first identified by doctors in the 1980s. However, the evidence was considered not sufficiently conclusive of a link between the drug and the abnormalities, The link was allegedly hidden to prevent “fruitless anxiety” in parents who were taking the drug. Sanofi later informed the medical profession of the risks in 2006, but did not provide much information on the adverse health effects.
Only recently has France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) looked deeper into the birth defect claims against Sanofi, and the agency has just published a report revealing that up to 4,100 children were born between 2007 and 2014 with “severe malformations” due to their mothers having taken the French version of Epilim. It also recognised that the drug caused hundreds of children to die in the womb.
The report has prompted the children´s parents to seek legal counsel. They formed a class action making birth defect claims against Sanofi on the grounds that the drug manufacturer failed to adequately advise the medical professional of the risks associated with Epilim or print warnings on the packets of the drugs. The French government has also got involved and is discussing a compensation package.
In Ireland, Epilim is still sold without a warning on the packet, and it is not known how many children have been diagnosed with foetal valproate syndrome due to being exposed to valproic acid in the womb. If a family member has been affected by this issue, and you would like to know more about birth defect claims against Sanofi, please do not hesitate to speak with a solicitor.