All Posts in Category: Medical Negligence due to a Failure to Act

€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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HSE apologises to Family over Father’s 2011 Death Due to Medical Misadventure

An apology was issued by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to the family of a man in relation to his death at St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny in 2011.

John Joseph Comerford was brought to the hospital in Kilkenny during March 2011 for hernia repair surgery. Unfortunately, the High Court was told, the 68-year-old passed away three days later in “very distressing circumstances”. An inquest into his death in 2014 returned a verdict of medical misadventure.

The family said that Mr Comerford was brought back to hospital two days following his hernia surgery with shortness of breath, abdominal pain and low blood pressure. A CT scan showed fluid in his abdominal wall and after the site of the operation was opened again, faecal smelling fluid was drained away from the area. When he was admitted to the intensive care unit, he suffered two cardiac arrests and passed away on 21 March 2011. As a result of his death, Mr Comerford’s family initiated a medical negligence case against the HSE. In the case liability was admitted by the HSE and the case was settled for an undisclosed sum.

An apology from the HSE on behalf of St Luke’s General Hospital was read out before the court. it said: “We apologise to Mrs Comerford and to her children and extended family for the events leading to the death of Mr John Joseph Comerford in the 21st of March 2011. We do not underestimate the distress and sadness caused to Mrs Comerford and her children by the loss of their husband and father. We offer our sincere condolences”.

Mr Comerford’s daughter Karen Brown, speaking outside the court, said she is happy the case has finished but is “disgusted” that it has taken this so long for this to be achieved. She said: “It feels very sad that it’s taken this long to happen. It’s sad my kids have missed out on their granddad. They adored him for the little time they knew him”.

Mr Comerford’s son, David, also made a statement following the case and described his father as an keen gardener who came to Ireland from the UK to retire in the late 1990s. He said his dad was very fond of the allotments and carried on working as a builder when he came here. He and his sister said their mother, who is now in her late 70s and was not in court on the day, had to move back to the UK since her husband’s death to be nearer to her children. he said: “You mourn your loved ones and it never goes away, but this just brings it to the surface time and time again. You think of him every day.”

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‘Delay’ on CT Scan for Bleed on Brain Assault Victim Leads to €750k Medical Negligence Compensation Award

A individual who took a medical negligence compensation action against a hospital in relation to the care he was given after he was assaulted has settled his High Court damages action for €750,000.

45-year-old Francis Cunningham, who is now restricted to a wheelchair, had a wound on the back of his head when he had been taken to St James’s Hospital in Dubln after the assault, which took place in 2010. His legal representative, barrister Oisin Quinn SC, argued that Mr Cunningham, who was found to have bleeding on the brain after having a CT scan, should have had the scan earlier. Is this course of action had been followed he would have had brain surgery earlier and, more than likely, he would have been able to walk and live independently

Mr Cunningham, of Casement Park, Finglas, Dublin, via his brother James, of the same address, took the failure to act compensation case against St James’s Hospital over the tretment he was given on October 2, 2010, following an assault that had happened nearby.

It was claimed by Mr Cunningham’s legal team that:

  1. There was a failure to properly examine Mr Cunningham when he was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
  2. There was an alleged failure to treat him with proper urgency, particularly due to his head injuries.
  3. There was a failure to conduct any suitable observation or monitoring of his condition.

It was noted that when Mr Cunningham was taken to the hospital A&E at 3.26pm that his primary complaint was alcohol and his secondary complaint a wound. Two hours later when he was further examined, it was noted Mr Cunningham was intoxicated and not verbalising and had a wound on the back of the head.

It was alleged that a CT scan three hours later indicated bleeding on the brain and he was taken to a different hospital for brain surgery. It was claimed at this stage his clinical condition had greatly deteriorated.

St James’s Hospital accepted that it was in breach of duty in that an examination of Mr Cunningham at 5.20pm should have resulted in a request for a CT brain scan to be conducted at that point i time. All other claims were denied by the defendants.

In approving the medical negligence compensation settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was an appropriate amount and he wished Mr Cunningham well for the future.

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Family of Woman (42) Who Died of Heart Attack Hours after Visiting GP with Cardiac-Like Symptoms Settle Case for €750k

A medical negligence High Court compensation settlement of €750,000 has been awarded to the family of a 42-year old mother of three who died of a heart attack not long after visiting her local doctor due to cardiac arrest-like symptoms.

Sheila Tymon was found by her three young daughters after she had collapsed on her bed at home. The girls called their father Michael who sped to the house at Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim.

Following a post mortem examination on June 29, 2013, it was found that Mrs Tymon had extensive cardiovascular disease  and her heart was enlarged. The cause of death was officially recorded as acute cardiac failure.

The claimants alleged that there was there was a failure to care for her properly or at all and an alleged failure to treat her adequately or at all in their medical negligence compensation case.

Mr Tymon, who had been driving at 70km in a 50km zone with his lights flashing, had been followed by an off duty detective who later tried to  help him resuscitate his wife as her three daughters, aged between five and ten, stood watching.

Mr Tymon, along with his daughters  Rachel, Rebecca and Katelyn, with an address at Kilboderry, Summerhill, Carrick on Shannon. Co Leitrim, took the compensation action against GP Martina Cogan who was practising at Keadue Health Centre, Keadue, Boyle, Co Roscommon when his wife’s death occurred in 2013.

Legal Counsel for the Tymons family, Pearse Sreenan SC, said the family believed that the GP should have sent Mrs Tymon on for further investigation and treatment and that this course of action may have prevented her death.

It was alleged that Mrs Tymon attended Dr Cogan on June 10 due to having abnormal sensations in her chest and down both arms which were very unpleasant and causing her discomfort and pain. Dr Cogan, it was claimed, found that Mrs Tymon’s blood pressure was high and diagnosed a possible case of shingles.

A 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor was applied when Mrs Tymon attended the doctor’s surgery again two days later. An antihypertensive medication was prescribed and a further review was pencilled for later in July 2013. Despite taking the prescribed medication Mrs Tymon continued to get pain on exertion and at rest.

She (Mrs Tymon) called the doctor’s surgery to see if they could bring the review appointment forward on June 25 but she was advised that there was no appointment available until June 27.

On June 27, she attended the doctor’s surgery and it was noted she had constant jabs in the front of the chest, shoulders, the top of her back and down her arms. A working diagnosis of a musculoskeletal issue was the conclusion and the doctor prescribed anti inflammatories to treat this

After she returned home from the GP on June 27 Mrs Tymon, it was claimed, felt reassured. However, later that evening she felt some pain in her neck spreading into her head. At 19.45 pm, her children discovered her lying motionless on her bed.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the medical negligence compensation settlement without an admission of liability.

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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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Personal Injury Compensation Payout Details Must Be Made Public: PIC

The Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) has called for injury data held by insurance companies to be collated and published.

In its first report from the PIC recommended that data relating to the incidence of ‘whiplash’ and other soft tissue injuries should be made available to the public.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns chairs the Commission which was set up to address the rising cost of motor insurance premiums. Justice Kearns said that such data should be made available from insurers so that it can form part of the National Claims Information Database which is being developed by the Central Bank of Ireland at present.

The report finds that the figures being awarded for whiplash claims should correlate to the severity of the injury, with a standardised grading scheme set up to achieve this. It states there needs to be more transparency in relation to payouts for whiplash injuries as levels of general damages are not included in legislation. Award levels are determined ultimately by judicial decisions.

LEGAL FIRMS UNHAPPY WITH REPORT

Separately lawyers that deal with in personal injury compensation cases have hit out at  Personal Injuries Commission’s first recommendations to the Government.

Associate solicitor at Cantillons Solicitors Jody Cantillon, stated: “Firstly, the basis for the Personal Injuries Commission seems to us to be flawed in that the rise in insurance premiums has nothing at all to do with personal injuries litigation.

In relation to the report itself, Mr Cantillon remarked: “We are surprised at the Commission’s ‘recommendation’ that the sums awarded in whiplash claims should be linked to the severity of the condition. This is already the case, so there is nothing new there.

He added “We would have grave concerns about a standardised approach to the diagnosis, treatment and reporting of soft tissue injuries. No one person or injury is the same. The impact that a back injury might have on a new mother is different to the impact such an injury might have on a young man. A standardised approach would not take sufficient consideration of the individuals circumstances.

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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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Settlement of Compensation for Brain Damage at Birth Approved in Court

A €15 million lump sum settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth has been approved at the High Court in favour of a ten-year-old boy.

The boy was born by emergency Caesarean Section at Kerry General Hospital on May 25th 2006 following a catalogue of errors by hospital staff. Among a series of systematic failures resulting in the boy´s delivery being avoidably delayed by two hours, the consultant obstetrician was not made aware of a worrisome heart-rate pattern, the possibility of foetal hypoxia was not considered, and no action was taken on a CTG trace indicating foetal distress.

Due to the avoidable delay, the boy suffered devastating brain damage and was diagnosed with mixed dyskinetic spastic cerebral palsy. Now ten years of age, he requires 24-hour care, cannot speak and is confined to a wheelchair. To exacerbate the boy´s injuries, the HSE failed to admit liability for nine years, during which time the boy´s family had to care for him on their own without the support they should have received from the state.

The HSE only admitted liability early last year after being threatened with aggravated damages, and an interim settlement of €2.7 million compensation for brain damage at birth was rushed through the courts. Yesterday the family was back in court for the approval of a final lump sum settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth amounting to €15 million – an amount that was described as “commercial common and legal sense” by presiding judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

Approving the settlement, Judge Kelly paid tribute to the boy´s parents for the care of their son, and added while no money would compensate the boy and his family, it was the only form of redress the law could provide. He hoped it would give peace of mind that there is a fund to care for the boy´s needs into the future. As the boy is a ward of court, the settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth will be paid into court funds and managed by court authorities.

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Claim for Birth Injuries against Sligo General Hospital Heard in Court

A claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital has been heard in the High Court ahead of the approval of an interim settlement of compensation.

In May 2010, the boy – on whose behalf the claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital was made – was born by emergency Caesarean Section, more than two hours after a CTG trace had indicated he was suffering foetal distress in the womb. Due to the avoidable delay, the boy was starved of oxygen and now – six years of age – he suffers from cerebral palsy.

Although the boy has since moved to Canada, he made a claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital through his mother. On behalf of Sligo General Hospital, the Health Service Executive (HSE) quickly acknowledged responsibility for the boy´s cerebral palsy injury and negotiations began to settle the claim. During mediation, HSE personnel not only apologised for a failure in its duty of care, but explained to the boy´s parents how the failure occurred.

Eventually it was agreed that the boy should receive an interim compensation settlement of €740,000 to cover the costs of his past care and the care he will need over the next five years. However, as the claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the boy´s best interests.

The approval hearing took place at the High Court, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the circumstances surrounding the boy´s birth and the details of the settlement negotiations. As well as praising the boy´s parents for the care they had provided him with over the past six years, he commended the HSE for its attitude in the case.

Commenting that an apology and an explanation was “absolutely something to be encouraged”, Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of cerebral palsy compensation and adjourned the claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital for five years. In five years, once assessments have been conducted to evaluate the boy´s future needs, the family hope that the option of a structured payment system will be in place to ensure their son´s financial security.

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Interim Settlement of a Claim for the Failure to Act on a CTG Scan Approved

The €1.35 million interim settlement of a claim for the failure to act on a CTG scan has been approved in the High Court in favour of a six-year-old boy.

The mother of the young boy from Bantry in County Cork made the claim for the failure to act on a CTG scan on her son´s behalf, on the grounds that – had a CTG scan taken during the later stages of her pregnancy been interpreted properly – her child would have been delivered by an emergency Caesarean Section procedure in a timely manner.

Instead, due to an alleged failure to act on the CTG scan, the boy´s delivery at the Cork University Maternity Hospital was delayed. He suffered foetal distress in the womb due to hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy and, when he was delivered, he had suffered terrible brain damage and was blind. Now six years of age, the boy suffers seizures every day and requires 24-hours-a-day care.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) – against whom the claim for the failure to act on a CTG scan was made – denied liability for the boy´s birth injuries. However, after a period of negotiation, the HSE agreed to a €1.35 million interim settlement of compensation without an admission of liability while studies are conducted to assess the child´s future needs.

Because the claim for the failure to act on a CTG scan had been made on behalf of a legal minor, an approval hearing before Mr Justice Kevin Cross has scheduled for the High Court. At the hearing, Judge Cross was told that although the boy cannot speak, he is able to communicate his needs to his parents and carers from the Jack and Jill Foundation.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross also heard how it had been an ordeal for the family to get a compensation settlement from the State Claims Agency and that they was relieved that the legal process was over. Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of compensation – stating that it was a good one in the circumstances – and adjourned the case for three years.

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