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”.