All Posts in Category: Claims for Delayed Diagnosis

€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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Whooping Cough Death Compensation Settlement of €100k for Mother Approved

A medical negligence compesnation settlement of €100,000 has been approved in the High Court for a mother whose two-month-old son died two weeks after she brought him to hospital with what it was claimed were the classic signs of whooping cough.

The family’s counsel Dr John O’Mahony told the High Court a diagnosis of bronchiolitis was made at Cork University Hospital on Romi Betak, from Cork, when the baby actually was suffering from the whooping cough.

Maria Mullins (33), of Presentation Road, Gurranabraher, Cork, had taken the whooping cough compensation acttion against the Health Service Executive in relation to the death of Romi in August 2012.

Dr O’Mahony said the child’s condition deteriorated and a blood sample taken coagulated and could not be tested. It was argued that Counsel said if a repeat blood test had been completed, the course of treatment for Romi would have been different, as a diagnosis could have been reached. The High Court was told that the child was kept at Cork University Hospital (CUH) and his condition worsened.

Dr O’Mahon said “His heart was racing, his breath was racing. The penny never dropped until it was too late”.

Romi has initially been taken to Cork University Hospital on August 3 2012, it was claimed, by his parents as he seemed to be suffering from the usual symptons of whooping cough infection. These symptoms included episodes of breath holding, coughing spasms and thick copious secretions.

Despite the baby’s condition worsening it is claimed that his health was not reviewed again by a doctor until August 5. By the time of this review his breathing was more laboured but the probability of whooping cough was allegedly not considered.

It was claimed there was a failure at that stage to carry out a chest X-ray and a failure to discuss the possibility of the provision of antibiotics.

On August 9 and 10 Romi was tube fed consistent with his deteriorating respiratory status.

On August 11, it was claimed, the possibility of whooping cough infection was noted for the first time following another deterioration in the child’s condition. However there was still no medical intervention. A chest X-ray showed significant areas of lung infection

The next day, August 12, the Romi suffered a respiratory arrest and was resuscitated, intubated and transferred to a Dublin hospital where he sadly passed away on August 14.

The High Court was told liability remained an issue in the case while Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the whooping cough compensation settlement.

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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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Judge Approves Settlement of Meningitis Misdiagnosis Claim

A judge has approved the €5.6 million settlement of a meningitis misdiagnosis claim made on behalf of a young girl who had both legs avoidably amputated.

On the morning of 10th July 2005, the parents of the three-year-old girl phoned the South Doc out-of-hours doctor´s service in Cork, and expressed concerns about their daughter´s symptoms of a rash on her stomach, a high temperature, drowsiness and vomiting.

They were told to bring her into the South Doc clinic and, at 5:00am that morning, the girl was examined by Dr Leon Britz, who diagnosed tonsillitis and sent the family home. However, the young girl´s condition deteriorated in the following hours, and the family returned to the clinic at 9:30am.

On this occasion, a diagnosis of meningitis was made. The girl was taken to the A&E Department of Cork University Hospital, where she was administered antibiotics, and later transferred to Our Lady´s Children´s Hospital in Crumlin, where tragically she had to have both legs amputated below the knee. The girl, now fifteen years of age, underwent 132 operations over the following twelve years.

Through her mother, the girl made a meningitis misdiagnosis claim against Dr Britz and South West Doctors on Call Ltd – the providers of the South Doc out-of-hours doctor´s service. In the meningitis misdiagnosis claim it was alleged the girl suffered “profound consequences” due to the misdiagnosis and the opportunity was missed to administer antibiotics at an earlier stage.

Liability was admitted by the defendants and a settlement of the meningitis misdiagnosis clam amounting to €5.6 million was agreed between the parties. As the legal action had been taken on behalf of a minor, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a judge before it could be finalised to ensure it was in the girl´s best interests.

Consequently, 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”. After hearing that the girl was doing well at school and just about to sit her Junior Cert exams, the judge approved the settlement – congratulating her parents for the care they had given the girl and noting that the outcome could have been far worse.

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Claim for Undiagnosed Complications during Pregnancy Heard in Court

A claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy that resulted in a child suffering spastic diplegic cerebral palsy has been heard at the High Court.

The claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy was bought by the child´s mother against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Cork University Maternity Hospital after her son – one of twin boys born on 5th October 2010 – was diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.

The High Court heard that a scan conducted in June 2010 revealed a low-lying placenta, and that a second scan in September 2010 indicated there was a risk of vasa praevia – a pregnancy complication in which babies blood vessels cross or run near the internal opening of the uterus.

It was alleged in the court action that the Cork University Maternity Hospital should have conducted a more specific scan in September 2010 to address the risk of vasa praevia, and that the hospital demonstrated a failure to exercise reasonable care at the antenatal stage of the pregnancy.

As a result of the alleged negligence, one of the twins suffered foetal distress in the womb. He now suffers from spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, resulting in mobility and cognitive difficulties. Despite being flown to Missouri for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy to help him walk for the first time, he requires a walker or a wheelchair whenever he gets tired or ill.

At the High Court the HSE testified it was not normal practice to carry out a second scan to address the risk of vasa praevia and that it contested liability in the claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy. However, the court also heard that the HSE had agreed to an interim settlement of compensation for spastic diplegic cerebral palsy amounting to €1.98 million.

After hearing that the boy – now six years of age – had won a National Children of Courage Award in 2014, and that the funds will be used to provide him with greater access to private physiotherapy, speech, language and occupational therapy, the interim settlement was approved. The case will return to the High Court in five years after the boy´s future needs have been assessed.

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Claimant Recovers Compensation for the Delayed Diagnosis of a Detached Retina

A Kent man has recovered compensation for the delayed diagnosis of a detached retina after being told that his vision was deteriorating because of his age.

The claimant – a sixty-year-old man from Chatham in Kent – first visited his High Street optician two years ago complaining of “floaters” or small shadowy dots in his vision. His optician told him that he had suffered a posterior vitreous detachment – a common condition that affects around 75% of people aged sixty-five or older – and warned him to look out for signs of future retinal detachment.

In May last year, the claimant´s vision suddenly deteriorated. The volume of floaters affecting the vision of his left eye significantly increased, he noticed a vertical veil in the eye and his vision became hazy. He returned to the optician in June with concerns that he had suffered a detached retina, but after a brief examination was told there was nothing to worry about.

Over the summer, the claimant´s vision deteriorated further. On a further visit to his optician, he asked for a referral to a consultant ophthalmologist and was told that the referral would have to go via his GP. Eventually he was referred to Maidstone Hospital in August where a detached retina was diagnosed. Four days later, he underwent an emergency repair procedure at St Thomas´ Hospital in London.

After recovering from the procedure, the man sought legal advice and claimed compensation for the delayed diagnosis of a detached retina against his optician. The claim was complicated by the fact that two of the opticians that had examined him were locums and difficult to pin down. The claim was also contested on the grounds that the claimant had made a full recovery.

However, the claimant´s solicitor pursued the claim for compensation for the delayed diagnosis of a detached retina. He argued that the avoidable delay had deprived his client the opportunity to have his condition resolved with laser surgery, and instead he had undergone a more serious emergency repair procedure with a longer recovery time.

When the optician continued to contest the claim, the solicitor issued court proceedings. Rather than attempt to defend the claim in court, a £9,000 settlement of compensation for the delayed diagnosis of a detached retina was agreed. The optician also paying the claimant´s legal fees.

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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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Claim for an Avoidable Deterioration of Hearing Settlement Approved

A child´s claim for an avoidable deterioration of hearing against the HSE has been resolved with the approval of a €340,000 compensation settlement.

In April 2006, when Clodagh Enright was four years of age, her mother – Eileen – noticed that she was having speech difficulties. She contacted the local health nurse responsible for speech and language, who referred Clodagh to the audiology department of her local hospital to have her hearing checked.

The initial hearing test came back all clear; but, still worried about her daughter´s speech, Eileen Enright persisted with her concerns. A second hearing test was arranged in May 2007, that detected Clodagh had a significant hearing impediment.

Clodagh underwent a cochlear implant and had hearing aids fitted to help resolve the problem. However her parents claimed that, had the problem been identified in the first examination, Clodagh´s hearing impediment would not have deteriorated to such an extent, and she would not have lost ground in her education.

Through her mother, Clodagh made a claim for an avoidable deterioration of hearing against the Health Service Executive (HSE). An admission of liability was made by the HSE and a settlement of the claim negotiated amounting to €340,000.

As the claim for an avoidable deterioration of hearing had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a judge before the claim could be resolved in order to ensure it was in Clodagh´s best interests.

Consequently, at the High Court in Cork, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the circumstances of Clodagh´s injury and the progress she had made in the intervening years. The judge approved the settlement, saying it was a good one in the circumstances, and ordered that it be paid into court funds until Clodagh reaches the age of eighteen in four years.

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Unnecessary Mastectomy Claim for Compensation Starts at High Court

The High Court has started hearing an unnecessary mastectomy claim for compensation, made by a woman who alleges a missed diagnosis of breast cancer.

In November 2011, retired schoolteacher Eileen Fennessy from Piltown in County Kilkenny had her fourth precautionary mammogram via the “Breast Check” National Breast Screening Programme. The result of the mammogram came back as normal but, in October 2012, Eileen´s GP identified a large mass in her right breast and referred her to Waterford Regional Hospital.

At the Waterford Regional Hospital, an ultrasound and biopsy confirmed the presence of a grade 2 carcinoma and Eileen immediately underwent a course of chemotherapy. Unfortunately the chemotherapy treatment failed to reduce the carcinoma and, in April 2013, sixty-nine year old Eileen had her right breast removed in a mastectomy procedure.

Following her discharge from hospital, Eileen sought legal advice and made an unnecessary mastectomy claim for compensation. She alleged in her claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE) that the mammogram taken in November 2011 should have raised suspicions of cancer and she should have recalled for a further investigation.

The failure to conduct a further investigation – it was alleged – exposed Eileen to the unnecessary risk of her condition deteriorating, the unnecessary chemotherapy treatment and an unnecessary mastectomy. The HSE denied the allegations and contested the unnecessary mastectomy claim for compensation. As a result, the case proceeded to the High Court in Dublin.

At the High Court, Eileen´s barrister told Mr Justice Kevin Cross that, although the treatment was successful in removing the cancer – and subsequent check-ups have failed to reveal the disease manifesting in other locations – the underlying diagnosis for Eileen´s future is “extremely serious and devastating”. The case continues at the High Court.

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Compensation for a Patient in a Coma Approved at the High Court

A €550,000 interim settlement of compensation for a patient in a coma due to alleged medical negligence has been approved at a hearing of the High Court.

In October 2011, seventy-one year old Robert Bolton – a former funeral director and talented musician – underwent surgery at St James Hospital in Dublin. The surgery on Robert´s oesophagus was initially considered successful. However, the following morning James suffered a heart attack due to a respiratory failure caused by sepsis.

Robert was moved to the intensive care unit of the hospital, where his condition deteriorated and he suffered a hypoxic ischaemic brain injury. He has been in a coma ever since – oblivious to the presence of his family and unable to communicate. Robert now relies of twenty-four hour specialist care to provide his basic needs.

Robert´s wife – Angela – engaged a solicitor to investigate the standard of care Robert had received after his surgery and throughout his stay in the intensive care unit. She subsequently claimed compensation for a patient in a coma on her husband´s behalf, alleging that the hospital had failed to diagnose Robert´s sepsis or identify that he was suffering from organ failure as a result.

The hospital contested the claim, but acknowledged that there had been failings in the standard of care. A €550,000 interim settlement of compensation for a patient in a coma was negotiated to ensure that Robert receives the care he needs for the next two years – after which a final settlement of the claim will be determined.

As the claim for compensation for a patient in a coma had been made on behalf of a plaintiff unable to represent themselves, the case went to the High Court for an approval hearing before Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Judge Cross was told the circumstances of Robert´s heart attack, its probable cause, and the consequences of his condition to his wife and family.

After Angela told Judge Cross the family was happy that Robert´s care would be provided for, the judge approved the interim settlement of compensation for a patient in a coma – commenting that the interim settlement was clearly the result of hard bargaining. The judge then closed the approval hearing, wishing Angela and her family all the best for the future.

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