All Posts in Category: A&E Medical Negligence

€12m Hospital Negligence Settlement Approved for Girl (9)

Yesterday at the High Court a €12m hospital negligence compensation settlement was approved for a nine-year-old girl who sustained brain damage as, it was claimed, she was not admitted quickly enough after she contracted bacterial meningitis.

The medical negligence compensation action was taken against the Health Service Executive (HSE) by Cabrini Fallon on behalf of her daughter Robyn Kilgallon in relation to the treatment she was administered with at Sligo General Hospital on February 1, 2011, when she was only 10 months old.

The court heard Robyn’s parents took her to the hospital following a referral from a GP who was concerned the child had a viral infection. Even though Robyn was showing symptoms such as a high temperature and vomiting, had little control of her movement and had eyes rolling in the back of her head, she was sent home by a junior doctor as, her parents were told,  the outcomes of Robyn’s blood tests did not suggest that there was anything that appeared to be a serious worry.

However, when Robyn’s condition did not subsequently improve and she was readmitted to the hospital on the morning of February 2. At this time the young girl was very ill, unresponsive and had a seizure. She was taken to an intensive care unit where she was incubated. Not long after this she (Robyn) was reviews and her condition was deemed to be a serious nature to the extent that she was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for specialist treatment.

Robyn now suffers from significant development delay and experiences difficulty communicating with others and walking.

In the legal action it was claimed the HSE had been guilty of medical negligence as Robyn had not been admitted and treated her for the suspected bacterial infection. Furthermore it was alleged that this failure to admit Robyn, of Caltragh Road, Sligo lead to her suffering brain damage.

The court was informed that Robyn’s mother and her father, Declan Kilgallon, are hoping to move to a house which will be more suitable to the restrictions that Robyn experiences due to their injuries. The family solicitor, Donnacha Anhold, read out a statement in court on behalf of the family. It said Robyn had been a perfectly healthy young child at the time that she was brought to Sligo General. Mr Arnold added that the HSE has issued an apology to the Kilgallon family last week, for which the family was extremely grateful.

He went on to say that he family had not been informed of the measures that the HSE plans to implement to prevent something this from happening in the future. There has been nothing produced so far in relation to this,

Liability in the action was admitted in the hospital negligence legal action and presiding Judge Justice Cross said he was satisfied to give his approval for the settlement figure agreed.

 

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Cancer Patient (67) Died After Discharging Herself from Overcrowded Mater Hospital

At Coroner’s Court in Dublin an inquest has heard how a 67-year-old cancer patient  died four days after she was permitted to discharge herself from the Mater Hospital due to overcrowding.

Family members, speaking following the inquest, said their mother, Elizabeth Leavy from Montpellier Road, Dublin 7 was left waiting on a hospital trolley for six hours. They, the family members stayed alongside her all evening but they were not aware her condition was so serious.

Her daughter Joy, speaking about the events at the Mater Hospital, said: “She was left in the hallway beside the bins. She was afraid, in pain, uncomfortable and she was hallucinating. She couldn’t stick it. We waited all night with her for test results and they told us she was okay. If we had of known they wanted to do more research we would’ve made her stay. She was left on a trolley in a hallway for six hours, a cancer patient, she’d had enough.

She described the pivotal role and position that her late Mother played in their family: “She was bubbly, fun, she saw the good in everyone and everything.”

Mrs Leavy. a mother-of-eight, who was first diagnosed with oral and bowel cancer in 2017, passed away four days after she discharged herself from the hospital. She was discovered at her home in an unresponsive condition on the morning of January 22 2018.

The inquest was told the Mrs Leavy’s death was caused by cardio-respiratory arrest due to multi-drug toxicity. The woman had toxic levels of the opiate based pain medications Tramadol and Oramorph in her system, which had built up over time. A post-mortem report indicated that the woman’s cancer was not active but she had chronic inflammation of the liver due to the accumulation of medications.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said: “These medications act centrally in the respiratory centre and it impedes your breathing. Your breathing stops and your heart stops and I think that is what happened that morning. The build-up of the medications in her system caused her death.”

Speaking in relation to the overcrowding at the hospital when Mrs Leavy was admitted Consultant in Emergency Medicine at the Mater Hospital Dr Tomas Breslin said: “Overcrowded conditions bring a higher risk of dying. Every nurse and doctor knows this is a massive problem for patients, it affects their care and their outcomes. I reviewed [Mrs Leavy’s] notes in detail. There were questions we didn’t know the answer to and that would have been the reason for keeping her in the department. That being said, you can understand why, when there is no clear issue, a person would decide to leave”.

The coroner returning a verdict of misadventure, said: “She’d gone through a lot of treatment and seemed to be doing well. It’s very tragic, she obviously had a loving and attentive family”.

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Medical Negligence Compensation Payouts of €268m Made by State Claims Agency in last two years

The overall amount of compensation paid out by the State Claims Agency (SCA) in relation to medical negligence claims totals over half a billion euro in the past two years.

New figures released by Minister for Health Simon Harris show that the amount of compensation paid out by the State Claims Agency (SCA) in 2018 was €268.45m for medical negligence cases – an increase of €18.6 million – or 7.5% – on the €249.77m paid out in 2017. This brings the total amount of compensation for medical negligence paid out in 2017-18 to €518.2m.

The figures were provided by the State Claims Agency (SCA)  in response to a a written Dáil question by Fianna Fáil’s Finance spokesman, Michael McGrath. It also reveals that the highest sum paid out last year under medical negligence was €15.5m in relation to a cerebral palsy case compensation claim.

Cases linked to birth negligence or cerebral palsy accounted for seven of the top ten medical negligence payouts in 2018. The figures release indicate that, in the seven cerebral palsy cases, a total of €60.3m compensation was paid out in order to provide adequate treatment for the individuals concerned for the remainder of their lives.

The remainder of the top ten was made up of cases that in the top ten payments concerned a pay-out of €6.3 million for a clinical procedure at surgery and a separate payout of €5.9m under the same category.

The lowest payout in the top ten was €4.37 million paid out concerning a clinical procedure in the Gynaecology service.

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Man settles €850k Compensation Over his Wife’s Wrongful Death

Widower, Donal O’Sullivan, who took a wrongful death compensation action against a GP and the Health Service Executive after his wife died just a day after a blood test showed she had low levels of potassium, has settled his High Court compensation action for €850,000.

The court was told that mother-of-four Maureen O’Sullivan, who was in her 50s, should have been rushed to hospital after a test showed she had low levels of potassium. Due to this Mr O’Sullivan, from Crookstown Co Cork, sued GP Therese Crotty of Main Street, Ballincollig, Co Cork, and the HSE over the wrongful death of his wife on November 8, 2011.

It was alleged that on the previous November 4, Ms O’Sullivan had seen Dr Crotty as she was suffering from palpitations. A blood test was taken and taken for analysis at Cork University Hospital. On November 7 the result indicating severe hypokalaemia, a low level of potassium, was sent to the Doctor’s surgery in Ballincollig.

The GP, it is claimed, did not arrange to admit Ms O’Sullivan to hospital immediately upon learning she suffered severe hypokalaemia did not advise the patient that this is what she was suffering from.

Furthermore, it was argued that the HSE did not adequately communicate the importance of the abnormal blood test results to the doctor and that there was an absence of appropriate systems of communication. Additionally, it was further stated by Mr O’Sullivan’s legal representatives that the HSE had depended on a clerical officer to communicate the test results that they required urgent clinical attention.

In a letter read to the court, Dr Crotty and the HSE apologised for their role in the events that led to Ms O’Sullivan’s death. It addressed 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.”

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Over 1,000 Unnecessary Deaths due to Medical Error in Ireland Annually

Roger Murray, a legal expert speaking at a medical negligence conference attended by solicitors, medical professionals and patients in early September,  said that around 1,000 unnecessary deaths happen annually every year due to medical negligence.

Mr Murray, joint Managing partner at Callan Tansey solicitors, stated that the most commonly experienced incidents relate to surgery (36 per cent) medicine (24 per cent), maternity (23 per cent) and gynaecology (7.5 per cent).

As a solicitor who has been involved in many medical negligence compensation cases, Mr Murray said that though injured patients and families do have empathy for medical professionals who make mistakes “they cannot abide is systemic and repeated errors”.

He called for thorough investigations when mistakes do happen and referred to many inquest situations where families learned that desktop reviews had been completed following a death, and the results were not disseminated to appropriate staff. A vital learning opportunity had been missed.

Mr Murray said 160,000 hospital visitors experience injuries due to human mistakes and errors. Mr Tansey was speaking at the Pathways to Progress conference on medical negligence and said that he believes that there is “no compo culture” to be witnessed when it comes to medical negligence compensation actions in Ireland, saying that what we are seeing in the legal system is just “the top of a very murky iceberg”.

He added that he feels that not all those injured in medical incidents report it. The HSE is notified of 34,170 “clinical incidents” annually and, o,f these 575 resulted in compensation claims against the HSE, a rate of less than 1.7 per cent.

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Court Approves Interim Settlement of Chicken Pox Misdiagnosis Compensation

The High Court has approved a €2.5 million interim settlement of chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation in favour of a young boy who suffered a brain injury.

Eoghan Keating from Upper Dunhill in County Waterford was soon to be celebrating his second birthday, when his parents took him to the A&E Department of Waterford Regional Hospital on August 24, 2012, suffering from a high fever and having developed a rash on his abdomen. Eoghan was misdiagnosed as having mumps and was sent home after being treated with ibuprofen and Carpol.

The little boy´s condition deteriorated during the night. He became lethargic and a swelling developed in his neck. His concerned parents – Larry and Martina – called the caredoc GP service, who advised that Eoghan be taken back to the hospital as soon as possible. On his return to the Waterford Regional Hospital, Eoghan was correctly diagnosed as having a chicken pox infection.

Eoghan was intubated and ventilated before being transferred to the Children´s Hospital in Dublin, but the correct diagnosis had come too late to prevent him from suffering a serious brain injury. Now six year of age, Eoghan is tetraplegic and cannot talk.

On her son´s behalf, Martina Keating made a claim for chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE), alleging that there had been a failure by medical staff at the Waterford Regional Hospital to admit her son or identify the indications of a significant infection. Liability for the medical negligence that resulted in Eoghan´s condition was acknowledged by the HSE and a €2.5 million interim settlement of chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation was agreed.

As the claim for chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation had been made on behalf of a child, the interim settlement had to be approved by a judge. Consequently the sequence of events leading up to Eoghan´s brain injury and the consequences of his injury were related to Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court. At the hearing, the family was also read an apology by the General Manager of Waterford Regional Hospital – Richard Dooley – for the “deficiencies in care provided to Eoghan”.

After commenting that the Keatings´ “suffering cannot be described or defined”, Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation and adjourned the case for two years to allow for an assessment of Eoghan´s future needs. In two years´ time, the family will return to court for the approval of a second interim compensation settlement unless a system of periodic payments has been introduced in the intervening period.

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Minister Plans to Enforce Medical Negligence Open Disclosure Policy

Health Minister Simon Harris has announced that he is to push forward with legislation to enforce a medical negligence open disclosure policy.

The Health Minister´s intentions to push forward with legislation to enforce a medical negligence open disclosure policy were revealed in an address to delegates at the State Claims Agency´s first annual “Quality, Patient Safety & Clinical Risk Conference” at Dublin Castle on Monday.

Mr Harris said that the establishment of a new National Patient Safety Office would “lead a program of significant patient safety measures” that included a review of how adverse medical events are disclosed to patients and their families and the process for claiming medical negligence compensation.

The National Patient Safety Office will be led by a team of experts under the auspices of the Department of Justice and Equality. Its roles include:

  • Setting up a national patient advocacy service.
  • Introducing a patient safety surveillance system.
  • Establishing a national advisory council for patient safety.

The National Patient Safety Office will also be responsible for accelerating the progress of the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill – although enactment of the bill may not be possible until the EU has concluded its work on revised European-wide data protection standards.

This is because the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill contains measures to protect patients´ private healthcare information while aiming to create a national network of healthcare data to improve the provision and management of healthcare services throughout Ireland.

The news that the Health Minister at least intends to enforce a medical negligence open disclosure policy will be welcomed by legal figures and patient safety experts who have campaigned for many years for a legal duty of candour to be introduced.

Some have claimed that the HSE´s 2013 national guidelines for open disclosure have been widely ignored since their publication, and that former Health Minister Leo Varadkar missed an opportunity to enforce a medical negligence open disclosure policy in the Civil Liberty (Amendment) Bill 2015.

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Compensation for the Failure to Administer Antibiotics Approved at Court

An interim settlement of €2.4 million compensation for the failure to administer antibiotics has been approved in favour of a five-year-old brain damaged boy.

Eoghan Dunne from Tullamore in County Offaly was just eleven months old when, on 3rd August 2012, he was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe suffering from a fever, breathlessness and lethargy.

Due to his high heart rate and “severe respiratory distress”, Eoghan was transferred to the Temple Street Children´s Hospital in Dublin. He subsequently suffered septic shock and a cardiac arrest. During the cardiac arrest, Eoghan´s brain was starved of oxygen and suffered major neurological damage.

Now five years of age, Eoghan suffers from epilepsy, cannot walk or talk and is visually impaired. He will need twenty-four hour care for the rest of his life.

Following a review of his treatment, Eoghan´s parents claimed compensation for the failure to administer antibiotics when their son was first admitted to the Portiuncula Hospital. It was alleged that, had Eoghan been given antibiotics at the time, the septic shock would not have occurred.

The Portiuncula Hospital and the Health Service Executive denied liability for Eoghan´s injury until earlier this week. An interim settlement of compensation for the failure to administer antibiotics was agreed, and presented to Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court for approval.

At the approval hearing, Judge Cross was told that the hospital was ill-prepared for Eoghan´s admission – despite being forewarned by the family´s GP – and had ignored HSE guidelines for the treatment of sepsis. The court also heard how it there had been “difficulty identifying competent staff to transfer him”.

Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of compensation for the failure to administer antibiotics, commenting that it would be helpful if the HSE admitted liability in such cases so that families such as the Dunne´s did not have to resort to litigation in order to get justice.

Outside the court, Eoghan´s father – Ronan Dunne – echoed Judge Cross´ words when he told reporters Eoghan had lost out on possible therapy and treatment for his injuries at “a vital developmental stage” because of the HSE´s reluctance to admit liability in the case.

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Compensation Claims for Radiologist Negligence Likely after Review of X-Rays

There could be a considerable number of compensation claims for radiologist negligence following an HSE-ordered review of thousands of x-rays and scans.

The review of x-rays and other scans was ordered by the Health Service Executive (HSE) following concerns being raised by medical professionals about the standards of three locum radiologists. The radiologists have not been named, but their errors could have affected patients in as many as seven different hospitals.

The three locum radiologists are known to have worked at Kerry General Hospital, Cavan Monaghan Hospital and Bantry General Hospital. The locum employed by the HSE at Bantry General Hospital went on to work in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, Wexford General Hospital and Roscommon Hospital.

At Kerry Hospital, six patients had to be recalled due to mistakes made by one of the radiologists during one month in May 2013, while at Cavan Monaghan Hospital sixty-two patients had to be recalled following the review of 2,980 x-rays and scans. The HSE has said that no patient has suffered an “adverse effect” due to the negligence of the radiologists at either of these hospitals; but at Bantry General Hospital it was a different story.

More than 4,000 x-rays and scans had to be reviewed at Bantry General Hospital, and whereas “most” patients suffered no adverse effect, one patient is known to have had a delayed cancer diagnosis. Hospital managers at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda and Connolly Hospital are still conducting preliminary audits of the same radiologist´s work, while no patient safety concerns were identified during a review at Wexford General and Roscommon Hospitals.

During the review at Cavan Monaghan Hospital, it was revealed that the radiologist responsible for the recall of sixty-two patients was not on the Medical Council´s specialist register and should not even have been assessing scans. All three locum radiologists have now left Ireland – one is believed to be working in the UK and another in Australia – and have been reported to the Medical Council.

The HSE has been widely criticized by the medical profession for creating the situation in which competent radiologists are no longer entering the profession; and in addition to the cost of conducting the wide-ranging and time-consuming review, the authority will also have to settle any compensation claims for radiologist negligence made by patients who have suffered an adverse effect due to a missed or late diagnosis.

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Woman Settles Claim for Missed Diagnosis of Broken Knee

A woman who had been hoping to compete in the Special Olympics, until it was discovered that a hospital had overlooked a fracture to her knee, has settled a claim for the missed diagnosis of a broken knee after a High Court hearing.

Amy Rose McGowan (31) from Trim in County Meath made her claim for the missed diagnosis of a broken knee after it was discovered that medical staff in the Emergency Department of Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan, County Meath, had failed to diagnose a fracture in her knee while she was in training for the Special Olympics in Athens.

Amy had fallen and hurt her knee during a 50 metre sprint race, and had been taken to Our Lady´s Hospital for a precautionary x-ray on May 8th 2009. At the hospital, an x-ray was taken, but doctors overlooked the depressed fracture and diagnosed Amy´s injury as soft tissue damage.

It was only a few months later, when Amy attended her GP because of a pain in her knee that the fracture was discovered. Unfortunately for Amy, it was too late for operative or corrective intervention, and she missed her opportunity to qualify for the games. It is likely that Amy will also need to have knee replacement surgery later in life because of the hospital´s negligence.

Amy made a claim for the missed diagnosis of a broken knee and, after an investigation at Our Lady´s Hospital, the Health Service Executive admitted liability for her injuries. A settlement of €142,000 was agreed, but had to first be approved in the High Court – where it was heard by Mr Justice Michael Peart.

In the High Court, Judge Peart heard how Amy had previously won 34 medals and 10 trophies in the area of athletics and swimming before the accident. He said he was “very impressed and full of admiration” for her and that it was a pity that her athletics career had been cut short.

The judge approved the settlement of compensation for the missed diagnosis of a broken knee and wished Amy a happy life with her family before adjourning the hearing.

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