All Posts in Category: Post-Surgery Medical Negligence

Woman Left with Forehead Scar after ‘Negligence’ in Care Awarded €63,000 Medical Negligence Compensation

A woman has been awarded €63,000 medical negligence compensation at the High Court in relation to the standard of her post-operative care at St James’s Hospital in Dublin following a procedure to remove of a heart pacemaker.

58-year-old Concepta Anderson, of Sooey, Co Sligo, took the legal action against the hospital after she experienced an episode of syncope (heart stoppage leading to a blackout) and fell when she was in a hospital toilet on May 18th, 2014.

The incident took place at a time when she was rehabilitating from a procedure to take out her permanent pacemaker and was waiting for her new pacemaker to be inserted. She suffered a head injury and has a permanent cut on her forehead.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr noted in his reserved judgment that, prior to having a pacemaker, Ms Anderson had a history of falls and syncope and was a fall risk following the removal of her pacemaker.

However, he ruled that there was negligence by her consultant cardiologist in not making sure that clear instructions were provided to nursing staff that Ms Anderson was a fall risk and therefore should be restricted to bed and only permitted to walk about with proper supervision.

Due to that failure, Ms Anderson was not told that she should remain bed and was allowed move freely within the range of her telemetry monitor. He said that this left hers in danger of serious injury.

The judge said the claimant was lucky that, when she did have the syncope episode, she was located in the toilet. He dismissed additional claims of negligence in relation to a decision not to insert a temporary wire following the removal of the pacemaker and before the insertion of the replacement device. Ms Anderson suffered a moderate head injury as a result of the fall, he said.

He said that he believed that Ms Anderson is embarrassed by her forehead wound which, while not ugly, was permanent. In considering all of these factor he assessed total medical negligence compensation of €63,112.

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Family of 52-Year Woman Who Died Following Hernia Operation Awarded €300,000

Yesterday at the High Court a private medical clinic apologised, for the failures in the care given to a 52-year old woman who died from sepsis after developing a rare infection following a hernia operation, as part of a €300,000 settlement to her family of the deceased Ms Susan McGee

Ms McGee, a mother of two, died eleven days after the hernia operation at the Hermitage Clinic in Dublin on July 24, 2013. Ms McGee had contracted a rare Clostridium Difficile infection in her bowel in the aftermath of the hernia operation. A verdict of medical misadventure was returned at the inquest into the death of Ms McGee.

Ms McGee’s daughter, Melissa Barry, spoke to the court revealing that the death of her mother had a significant effect on the family. She said: “Our mother is missed every day by her entire family and a large circle of friends. We owed it to our amazing mam to seek answers and justice. We hope she can now rest in peace while we can rebuild the rest of our lives.”

Ms Barry went on to say: “The Hermitage Medical Clinic has reassured us new procedures are in place for the handover of patients and we hope lessons have been learned. Patients need to be assured that details of their medical condition and care plan are properly communicated  if they are being put in to the hands of a different medical professional. Hospital staff must also listen to and act on the concerns of a patient’s family.”

Melissa Barry, Grange Rise, Stamullen, Co Meath and her brother John McGee , Bretton Woods, Skerries Road, Rush , Co Dublin had taken the medical negligence compensation case against the Hermitage and consultant surgeons Arnold Hill and Colm Power in relation to the manner of her treatment at clinic in 2013.

The High Court was told that the defendants accepted liability after McGee experienced complications following hernia surgery in July 2013. Ms McGee’s surgeon was on annual leave when she was readmitted to the clinic after becoming ill. The court was told that another doctor was not available to administer care to her as he was on duty in a separate hospital and a third doctor was not advised of Ms McGee’s condition. Following some attempted emergency surgery, she passed away on 22 July 2013.

In approving the medical negligence compensation settlement Mr Justice Robert Eagar offered his condolences to the McGee family.

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Award of Hospital Fall Injury Compensation Put on Hold

A €58,500 award of hospital fall injury compensation – made in favour of a seventy-nine year old woman – has been put on hold by a Circuit Civil Court judge.

In April 2015, the woman from Finglas in Dublin attended the city´s Mater Misericordiae University Hospital as a day patient for a gastroscopy procedure. Following the procedure, she was left alone to recover from her sedation and, while attempting to get out of bed, fell – suffering a spinal fracture.

As a result of her accident, the woman spent nearly a month recovering in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital before being transferred to the Orthopaedic Hospital in Clontarf for a further three months. She now has to permanently wear a lumbar brace and has to rely on a wheelchair for her mobility.

The woman subsequently made a claim for hospital fall injury compensation, alleging medical staff should not have left her on her own when it was known she had previously fallen at her home. She claimed the hospital had further failed in its duty of care by not adhering to its falls prevention policy.

The claim for hospital fall injury compensation was heard by Judge James O´Donohoe at the Circuit Civil Court. At the hearing, the judge was told the plaintiff had lost her independence due to the accident and was a changed woman as a result. The judge also heard testimony from an expert witness who said, considering the woman´s previous medical history, she should have been monitored more closely.

Finding that no special precautions had been taken to ensure the safety of a patient known to have fallen previously, Judge O´Donohoe awarded the woman €58,500 hospital fall injury compensation. He then put the award on hold pending an appeal from the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital subject to the hospital paying €30,000 of the compensation award at once.

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Advice about a Lip Implant Injury Compensation Claim

In order to receive legal advice relevant to your specific circumstances, speak with a solicitor about making a lip implant injury compensation claim.

If you have experienced an adverse event due to a poor standard of cosmetic surgery in Ireland, certain conditions have to be fulfilled before you can make a lip implant injury compensation claim. Having experienced an adverse event in itself is not sufficient grounds to claim compensation for a lip implant injury – particularly if you gave your informed consent prior to undergoing the procedure and were fully aware that the adverse event was a possible consequence.

Indeed, the first thing a solicitor will ask you is what information you were given before undergoing the procedure and whether you signed an agreement or contract. If so, your solicitor will need to review a copy to identify any exclusions or limits of liability. This will also help establish whether the adverse event was avoidable at the time and in the circumstances, and if your injury is attributable to a lack of skill or a lack of ability to demonstrate that skill.

If there is sufficient evidence to suggest “on the balance of probabilities” you have a lip implant injury compensation claim worth your while to pursue, your solicitor will write to the negligent cosmetic surgeon with a “Letter of Claim”. The letter will outline your injury and the consequences of your injury, explain why it is believed the injury was caused by negligence and request a proposal settlement of compensation for a lip implant injury.

An application for assessment will not be made to the Injuries Board, as lip implant injury compensation claims fall outside of their remit, and the value of your claim will be settled by negotiation once negligence has been acknowledged by the cosmetic surgeon. How much compensation for a lip implant injury you receive will depend on a number of factors including your age, whether or not the injury can be rectified and the reason for undergoing the procedure initially.

In this respect, your lip implant injury compensation claim will be unique from any other. To make sure you receive legal advice relevant to your specific circumstances, you should speak with a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.

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Patients Claim Compensation for Gynaecological Errors by Surgeon

Seven former patients of a surgeon recently found guilty of a poor professional performance are claiming compensation for gynaecological errors.

Last week, the Medical Council found gynaecologist Dr Peter Van Greene guilty of two counts of a poor professional performance after a complaint had been brought against him by Helen Cruise – a sixty-one year old patient who had undergone a hysterectomy procedure at the Aut Even private hospital in Kilkenny.

During the hearing of the Medical Council´s Fitness to Practise Committee, Helen and three other women who had been treated by the gynaecologist testified about the injuries they had sustained due to the doctor´s negligence. In Helen´s case, she had needed six units of blood due to excessive post-operative bleeding following a hysterectomy.

Helen also told the committee hearing that Dr Van Greene had only explained the procedure that was to be carried out – and the potential risks involved – after she had been administered with a spinal anaesthetic. She said her life had been ruined by the gynaecologist´s negligence, and that she had suffered from depression ever since.

The committee found that Dr Van Greene had failed to obtain Helen´s informed consent prior to the procedure, and that he had communicated with her in an inappropriate manner during a post-operative conversation with her. The committee has not yet revealed what sanctions it will impose on the doctor – which could vary from a fine to being struck off the medical register.

Prior to the finding of a poor professional performance, Helen and six other former patients of Dr Van Greene claimed compensation for gynaecological errors. The claims all relate to the period between 2009 and 2011, when Dr van Greene was performing hysterectomies at the Kilkenny hospital, and all claim to have suffered an adverse event due to a poor professional performance.

Dr Van Greene applied for bankruptcy in the UK earlier this year and is currently unemployed. However, if the claims for compensation for gynaecological errors are successful, the former patients making the claims will be able to recover compensation through his medical indemnity insurance cover.

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Family Pursue Compensation for the Failure to Identify and Treat Sepsis

The family of a woman who died from a post-surgical infection has made a claim for compensation for the failure to identify and treat sepsis.

Fifty-two year old Susan McGee – a mother of two from Rush in County Dublin – attended the Hermitage Medical Clinic on 13th July 2013 for minor hernia surgery. The surgery initially appeared to be successful, and Susan was discharged from the medical facility on 16th July to be cared for by her daughter – Melissa Barry.

On the 17th July, Susan complained of having an abdominal pain and feeling unwell. Melissa took her back to the Hermitage Medical Clinic in Dublin City Centre, where she was readmitted for observation. However, over the weekend of 20th and 21st July Susan´s condition deteriorated. On 22nd July, Susan underwent a CT scan that revealed an obstruction in her small bowel.

The blockage in Susan´s bowel was removed the same day, but her condition continued to deteriorate. Susan was transferred to the intensive care department of the Beaumont Hospital on 23rd July, but she died the following day from multiple organ failure brought on by sepsis that had been triggered by a C.difficle infection.

An inquest into Susan´s death was initially scheduled for February 2015, but it had to be adjourned as only the consultants in charge of Susan´s care had given statements – and one of those had gone on annual leave five days before her death. There were also concerns that evidence given by the nurses at the Hermitage Medical Clinic might be contradicted by Susan´s family.

The rescheduled inquest was held in June 2015; when Dublin City Coroner´s Court heard that there had been a failure by nurses at the Hermitage Medical Clinic to report brown faecal fluid draining from Susan´s nasogastric tube. It was also revealed that Susan´s vital signs had not been recorded between 8:00am and 6:00pm on Sunday 21st July – three days before she died.

The inquest also heard that only one resident medical officer was on duty over the weekend of 20th and 21st July – Dr Lachman Pahwani. Dr Pahwani testified that he was aware Susan´s condition had been deteriorating and had tried to spend as much time with her as possible. However, Susan was one of 81 patients that were staying at the medical facility at the time.

Susan´s death was recorded as being due to medical misadventure, after which her family sought legal advice and made a claim for compensation for the failure to identify and treat sepsis. According to a spokesperson for the family, a summons has now been issued and served on the Hermitage Medical Clinic.

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Judge Approves Compensation for Negligent Post-Surgical Care

After a hearing at the High Court, a judge has approved a €1.5 million interim settlement of compensation for negligent post-surgical care.

On 7th December 2010, fifty-two tear old Martin Byrne from Swords in County Dublin underwent surgery at the Mater University Hospital for unstable angina. The operation involved the insertion of pacing wires into his heart and, five days after the operation, he returned to the hospital to have the wires removed.

The removal of pacing wires is now considered to be a straightforward procedure, but as the procedure was underway, Martin started bleeding internally which caused him to suffer a heart attack. During the heart attack, Martin´s heart stopped working for fifteen minutes. He suffered substantial brain damage due to the lack of oxygen and was in a coma for the next two months.

After Martin was discharged from hospital, his wife – Una – made a claim for compensation for negligent post-surgical care on his behalf. Una alleged in her legal action that the pacing wires were removed by junior staff, whose experienced resulted in the internal bleeding that caused the heart attack. Despite a weight of evidence supporting the claim, the Mater University Hospital did not admit liability until December 2014.

A €1.5 million interim settlement of compensation was agreed while reports are conducted into Martin´s future needs; but, as the claim for compensation for negligent post-surgical care was made on behalf of a plaintiff who was unable to represent himself, the settlement had to be approved by the High Court.

Consequently, at the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that prior to his surgery for angina, Martin was a former taxi driver who had enjoyed an active lifestyle which included camping with his wife and four children and scuba diving. Una told Judge Cross “we thought it was the beginning of the rest of our lives as our children were working or at college”.

Judge Cross also heard that the interim settlement of compensation for negligent post-surgical care was to cover Martin´s care costs for the next three years until a final settlement is agreed upon or until a system of periodic payments is introduced in Ireland.

An apology was read to the Byrne family by Mary Day – the CEO of the Mater University Hospital – after which Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of compensation for negligent post-surgical care, wishing the family well for the future and commenting that Martin had “suffered something nobody should have suffered”.

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Judge Awards Compensation for Medical Negligence after Caesarean

A woman has been awarded compensation for medical negligence after a Caesarean operation which she claims resulted in a near-death experience.

Honey Larkin from Letterkenny in County Donegal, brought her action against consultant gynaecologist Eddie Aboud and the Health Service Executive (HSE) following the events after the birth of her child by Caesarean section at the Letterkenny General Hospital in January 2008.

Forty-year-old Honey claimed that, after her operation, she began to haemorrhage internally and her signs of distress were overlooked by the hospital´s staff. Honey alleges that she had a near-death experience due to losing more than half of her blood volume while haemorrhaging and because a second operation to stop the bleeding was delayed for more than an hour when her condition was acknowledged.

Claiming that she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to medical negligence, Honey also stated in her action that neither the staff at the hospital nor her gynaecologist checked for signs of bleeding after the initial surgery, and that – when the cause of her distress was identified – there was a failure to attach due significance to the bleeding or act appropriately within a reasonable timeframe.

Both Mr Aboud and the HSE contested Honey´s claim for compensation for medical negligence after a Caesarean birth; arguing that she was treated appropriately throughout and after the birth of her child and in a timely manner once her internal bleeding had been recognised. However, Honey persisted with her compensation claim for medical negligence after a Caesarean, and the case was heard before Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court.

In the High Court hearing, Judge Cross was told that no internal bleeding had been apparent when Mr Aboud had finished the childbirth procedure; but, when the gynaecologist was called back to attend to Honey, he performed the operation quickly and successfully to stop the haemorrhaging. Judge Cross said he believed that Mr Aboud could not be held responsible for any of the trauma suffered by Honey and dismissed from the case.

After considering the evidence in relation to the delay Honey experienced once the haemorrhaging had been identified, he found that the Letterkenny General Hospital failed in their duty of care towards Honey, and ordered that the HSE pay her €25,000 compensation for medical negligence after her Caesarean operation.

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Inspections Reveal High Risk of Infections in Hospitals

Inspections conducted by the Health Information and Quality Authority have revealed a high risk of infections in hospitals and five hospitals in particular have been given six weeks to develop a suitable quality improvement plans.

In June, The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) found five serious breaches of the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections in hospitals in Ireland. These breaches of the National Standards meant that patients and visitors alike were placed at high risk of infection in hospitals, and reports concerning the hospitals in question have published in order to alert the general public.

Louth County Hospital

Louth County Hospital was a typical example of patients being placed at high risk of infections in hospitals, as inspectors discovered two cases in which patients with known transmissible infections were placed in isolation rooms with the doors left open onto the general ward as standard practice.

Navan Hospital

The Emergency Department at Navan Hospital was found to be generally unclean and was not effectively managed to reduce the spread of infections. Hygiene problems in the hospital´s female medical ward where also identified resulting in patients not adequately protected from the risk of healthcare associated infections.

St Michael´s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire

At St Michael´s Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, inspectors discovered that mould had been allowed to develop in the hospital´s toilets and showering facilities for patients – and reported that hand hygiene practices in general posed a risk of transmitting infections to patients.

Portiuncila Hospital

At Portiuncila Hospital in Ballinasloe a high risk of infections in hospitals was due to the hospital failing to make use of security features already in place which allowed uncontrolled access to hazardous clinical waste material and medical equipment.

Waterford Regional Hospital

A litany of hygiene issues were reported at Waterford Regional Hospital which could result in the risk of infection in hospitals, most notably:-

  • Patients with suspected transmittable diseases were left in the main area of the Emergency Department due to the isolation room being used as a storeroom
  • Hand hygiene of staff working in the Emergency Department was inadequate and risked spreading healthcare associated infections to other patients
  • Mould had been allowed to develop around the base of a shower used by patients, on the soap holder, around the water outlet and on the shower chair
  • Commodes and bedpans were so heavily stained that they had to be withdrawn from use and one member of staff was observed failing to clean a used commode after use

About the Health Information and Quality Authority

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is an independent body which examines the safety and quality of the health service in Ireland. The National Standards it inspects for are applicable to healthcare services provided by or on behalf of the Heath Services Executive (HSE), as well as those provided by independent nursing and care homes – with particular scrutiny on services for persons with disabilities, children and older people.

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Increase in Health Service Complaints Announced by Health Service Executive

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has announced an increase in the number of Health Service complaints it received during 2012, with fewer being attended to within the promised 30 days.

The Executive recorded a total of 6,613 complaints during 2012, with 3,049 directly related to the standard of care received by patients throughout the year – an increase of 27 percent over 2011. Other complaints related to avoidable delays in treatment (805) and a lack of communication from hospital staff (600).

Further increases were registered in the number of complaints relating to errors in clinical judgement (up 37 percent on 2011), while other categories in which there was a significant poor standard of care included nursing homes, infection control and hospital accommodation. The largest number of Health Service complaints originated from the HSE South region.

The figures released by the HSE also revealed that only 69 percent of Health Service complaints are attended to within the 30 period advertised on the HSE web site – an alarming statistic considering that the complaints procedure is an avenue for victims of hospital negligence to identify why an error has occurred and what should be done to remedy it when answers are not forthcoming from medical staff (the ‘lack of communication’ mentioned above).

Important Information about Health Service Complaints in Ireland

The Health Service complaints procedure in Ireland is an important part of the process if you have suffered a loss, an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition due to a breach in the duty of care owed to you by a medical practitioner and wish to make a claim for hospital negligence compensation.

How and when you should make a complaint to the Health Service may be determined by the nature of the injury you have sustained and, to avoid possible contradictions when you later make a claim for hospital negligence compensation, it is recommended that you seek advice from an experienced medical negligence solicitor before making an official complaint against the Health Service in Ireland.

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