High Court Hears Claim for the Negligent Treatment of Cancer

The High Court will assess the settlement of a claim for the negligent treatment of cancer after liability was admitted at the eleventh hour by the HSE. 

In 2010, Kevin McMahon (63) from Roxboro in County Limerick attended his GP complaining of a hoarse voice. He was referred to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick, where a lesion on the left side of his vocal chords was discovered.

Kevin underwent a biopsy in July and, because there were suspicions that the lesion was cancerous, he was scheduled to have a second biopsy in October. The October appointment was subsequently cancelled and Kevin was not seen again until January 2011.

In January 2011, the cancer was confirmed and Kevin was told he had to undergo urgent surgery. Kevin had his larynx removed in order to prevent the cancer from spreading and he now has to speak through an artificial voice box.

Kevin later discovered that the lesion could have been treated with targeted radiotherapy and, after seeking legal advice, he made a claim for the negligent treatment of cancer against the Mid-Western Regional Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In his claim for the negligent treatment of cancer, Kevin alleged that the treatment he received was inappropriate and had caused significant damage and distress. It was further alleged that there had been a failure to discuss the treatment options available to him and – as a consequence – Kevin had been unable to give his informed consent.

The HSE refused to accept liability for Kevin’s unnecessary surgery until this Tuesday – the day before his claim for the negligent treatment of cancer was scheduled to be heard in the High Court. The hearing went ahead, but for the assessment of damages only. The hearing is expected to conclude by the end of the week.