High Court Awards Compensation for Failure to Diagnose Organ Failure

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The High Court in Dublin has awarded a man an interim settlement of compensation who was left in a coma after medical staff failed to diagnose his organ failure in 2011.

When Robert Bolton, aged seventy-one, he underwent an operation to treat his oesophagus that was initially declared successful in St James Hospital, Dublin. However, the next morning, Robert suffered a heart attack because of respiratory failure.

After Robert was transferred to intensive care his condition continued to deteriorate, and as Robert was suffering from sepsis, he sustained a hypoxia ischaemic brain injury. This left him in a comatose state since 2011, interspersed with brief moments of minimal consciousness.

Angela, Robert’s wife, consulted a solicitor concerning the standard of care Robert received at the hospital after his operation and during his period in intensive care. After this, she proceeded to make a claim for compensation for the misdiagnosis of organ failure for her husband. She claimed that St James Hospital did not diagnose her husband’s sepsis or manage to meet the accepted criteria for systemic inflammatory response.

The hospital contested the claim for Robert’s condition, though they did partially admit liability for the substandard level of care Robert received at the hospital.

Negotiations lead to an interim settlement of compensation of €550,000, aiming to pay for the round-the-clock specialist care required by Robert for two years.

However, as Angela was making a claim for compensation on behalf of her husband, the settlement needed to be approved by the High Court. Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings and heard evidence of Robert’s heart attack, alleged failings by the hospital and the impact of those alleged failings.

Angela informed the judge that, though no amount of money would compensate for what happened to her husband, the money would ensure Robert was properly cared for. Judge Cross approved the settlement, adding that the figure was evidently the result of hard bargaining. He wished Angela and her family the best.