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

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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.