Family Settle Claim for Death due to a Wrong Diagnosis out of Court

A family from County Mayo have settled their compensation claim for death due to a wrong diagnosis against the Health Service Executive out of court.

The claim was made in relation to the death of Eileen Maloney – a 69-year-old mother of thirteen from Pullathomas in County Mayo – who had attended the Mayo General Hospital in February 2009 complaining of severe abdominal pains.

Eileen – who was suffering from cancer at the time – was admitted into hospital after an X-ray revealed a small obstacle in her small bowel. However, as it was a Sunday when Eileen was admitted, no doctor was available to review the x-ray for the possibility of a perforated bowel.

A CT scan taken during the following week clearly indicated that a tumour had developed in Eileen´s bowel but no review was conducted of the scan to identify whether Eileen was suffering from a perforated bowel and, despite her ongoing pain, surgery was scheduled for six days later.

Despite Eileen´s surgery being successful, she died from the effects of the misdiagnosis five days later – a tragedy which could have been avoided according to a member of the medical team, if Eileen´s condition had been correctly identified and promptly treated when she was first admitted into the hospital.

Following a formal investigation, Eileen´s family made a compensation claim for a death due to a wrong diagnosis to account for the mental anguish they had suffered. The Health Service Executive (HSE) denied that it was responsible for Eileen´s wrongful death, but the family pursued their claim and, shortly it was due to be heard in court, Mr Justice Michael Peart heard that a settlement had been agreed.

Under the terms if the settlement, the HSE will pay Eileen´s family €50,000 without admission of liability in return for them withdrawing the compensation claim for death due to a wrong diagnosis. After hearing that the family were satisfied with the agreement, Mr Justice Michael Peart approved the settlement.