Claims Agency Admits Four Fatal Hospital Malpractice Blunders

The State Claims Agency, which oversees the clinical indemnity scheme for the healthcare system, has revealed that four hospital patients died between January 2004 and December 2010 after they were administered medication to which they had a known allergy.

Figures made public earlier this year also showed that 35,310 incidents involving medication were recorded in the seven year period – a number of which led to patients becoming ill and having to be admitted to hospital intensive care units.

Although 95 per cent of these did not lead to any patient harm, there were 124 medical negligence claims in Ireland solely attributable to adverse or allergic reactions to a known allergen, and the State Claims Agency has urged medical practitioners to ensure patients do not have an allergy before prescribing or administering treatment.

According to studies made on behalf of the State Claims Agency and Health Service Executive, the errors are happening due to the complex way medicines are administered – with often a dozen steps being required before a single dose of medication is delivered to a patient.

However patient lobby groups allege that despite the acknowledgement of more than 5,000 medication errors each year, patient treatment incidents are under-reported in Ireland – a view shared by “Patient Focus”, who claim that the scale of the problem has not been accepted by the medical profession.

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Missed Limb Diagnosis Compensation Settled

A renowned magician, whose doctor´s overlooked a severed tendon in his hand which threatened to end his career, has been awarded 15,000 pounds in an out-of-court settlement of his missed limb diagnosis compensation claim.

Kyle Summers (40) had attended the Accident and Emergency Department of the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton after a cup he had been cleaning shattered in his hand. Doctors at the hospital took an x-ray of Kyle´s left hand to ensure that there was no china in his thumb and then stitched the cut up and sent Kyle home.

When Kyle´s started to experience difficultydoing his magic tricks, he chose to have the hand looked at by his GP, but because the notes made at the hospital indicated that there was no damage to the tendon – even though the cut on Kyle´s thumb had been deep enough to reach the bone – the GP and a physiotherapist decided that the tendon had swollen.

It was after a further check-up six weeks later that the true cause of the issue was settled on. Kyle had to undergo two further operations to put a rod in his wrist and attach a thicker tendon before the injury started to heal. Only after months of intense specialist physiotherapy did Kyle regain the dexterity in his hand to enable him to work again.

After seeking legal advice, Kyle sued the George Eliot NHS Trust for missed limb diagnosis compensation and, in an out-of-court settlement, received 15,000 pounds for the missed diagnosis of his severed tendon.

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Cerebral Palsy Injury Child Awarded Medical Negligence Compensation

A twelve-year-old girl, who sustained severe brain injuries due to mistakes made during her delivery, has been awarded 5 million pounds in a cerebral palsy injury child settlement.

Sophie Clarke (12) from Pontyclun, Rhondda Cynon Taf, was born in 1998 at Bridgend. However, a major abnormality of Sophie´s heart rate was not recognised, despite it registering on monitoring equipment.

Had staff at the Princess of Wales Hospital noticed Sophie´s condition, they would have intervened and delivered her by Caesarean Section. However, they allowed the birth to go on naturally, causing Sophie to suffer from a lack of oxygen in the womb.

Sophie suffers from serious cerebral palsy as a result of the errors made at the hospital and now needs twenty-four hour care, is fed via a tube and is restricted to a wheelchair.

Legal advisers acting on behalf of the family sued the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board for negligence, and in a hearing at Cardiff Crown Court the negotiated settlement of 5 million pounds was approved.

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Undisclosed Settlement in Birth Accident Compensation Action

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has apologised to a family for the death of their young son from meningitis at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, County Louth, and resolved a claim for birth accident compensation in an undisclosed out of court settlement.

The family of four month old Dean Patrick Kenny from Drogheda, County Louth, brought a birth accident compensation action for wrongful death against the hospital and HSE, claiming that the hospital staff had failed to diagnose their son’s condition and discharged him when it was unsafe to do so.

The family claimed in their birth accident compensation action that Dean had been referred to the hospital with suspected meningitis by the family GP early in the morning of July 1st 2002. Dean was tended to and discharged, and the family went home where Dean’s condition continued to deteriorate.

After a later visit to their GP – where meningitis was confirmed – they returned to the hospital, but it was too late to save little Dean, who passed away that evening.

In their defence, the hospital and HSE denied birth accident negligence, and pleaded it had complied with general approved medical practices. They alleged that Dean did not show clinical features of bacterial meningitis and was feeding as normal.

However, shortly before High Court proceedings were about to commence, Mr Justice John Quirke was informed that the HSE had made an undisclosed offer of birth accident compensation settlement, which was accepted by the family, and the case was to be struck out.

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Child Paralysis at Birth Compensation Awarded

A six year old boy, who can only move his eyes after an error in his delivery left him in a quadriplegic condition, has been awarded a 6 million pounds compensation package at London´s High Court.

The boy, whose name was withheld in court, suffered severe cerebral palsy due to delays in a caesarean section being performed at Epsom Hospital in December 2004 and now needs around-the-clock care.

Suing Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust through his mother, the boy alleged that their medical negligence had led to his condition and, after an investigation, Mr Justice Eady at the High Court heard that the NHS Trust admittedly liability.

The child paralysis at birth compensation settlement which totals 5,961,199 pounds, is to paid in a lump sum of 2.8 million pounds to pay for the care and specialist treatment he requires now, with further index-linked and tax free payments throughout the remainder of the child´s life.

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Medical Negligence Case Liability Assigned by Judge

The story of Jade Keane hit the national headlines in February this year, when Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill awarded Jade (10) a medical negligence settlement package of 7 million Euros for the devastating and permanent injuries of post natal hydrocephalus.

The judge had found that gross medical negligence by the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Holles Street National Maternity Hospital and Jade´s GP – Dr Dermot Stones of Ballybrack, County Dublin – had caused her to develop water on the brain in the weeks and months after her birth.

An initial payment of 4.75 million Euros was to be paid as an interim settlement by the HSE and the hospital – both of whom admitted that mistakes had been made, but denied that they amounted to actionable negligence – and, before Mr Justice Seán Ryan at the High Court, they sought indemnity or contribution from Dr Stones in relation to the damages.

After reviewing the case, the judge decreed that there was nothing to distinguish the blameworthiness of all three defendants – stating that they were equally “grossly inept” – and ruled that each should pay one third of the damages awarded by Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill in February.

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Clinical Error Admissions Likely Due to “Duty of Candour”

A member of a High Court working group, commissioned to investigate provision for the victims of catastrophic injury and headed by Mr Justice John Quirke, has announced that the working group is considering the introduction of pre-action protocols to reduce the financial burden to the State of clinical error admissions compensation claims.

Mr Michael Boylan was talking in Dublin at a conference on catastrophic birth and child injuries organised by the charity “Action Against Medical Accidents”. He said that a legal “duty of candour” should be brought in to require medical practitioners to advise a patient as soon as they are aware that a clinical error as occurred.

Quoting from a Health Service Executive report, Mr Boylan stated that there was proof to suggest that patients often forgave the clinical error when it is disclosed promptly, fully and compassionately, and not only would this action lessen the trauma and distress of patients and their families upon discovery, but also reduce the amount of legal costs arising from contested medical negligence actions.

The first proposal from the working group was included in a report published in November 2010. The report recommended that people who sustain catastrophic injuries would benefit more from periodic compensation payments than one lump sum. Mr Boylan hoped that the report would be acted upon and legislation brought in, although he acknowledged that the overall cost to the State could be greater and feared that this might prevent it from being adopted into law.

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Birth Confused Heartbeat Leads to Multi-Million Pound Compensation Package

A six year old boy, whose heart stopped beating shortly before he was born, has had a 4.6 million pounds birth confused heartbeat compensation package approved in the High Court.

Shane Barrett (6), was born in June 2004. Just prior to his birth his heart stopped beating, but midwives allegedly failed to notice his condition after they confused his irregular heartbeat with that of his mother, Rachel.

Due to this, Shane suffered from a lack of oxygen and sustained cerebral palsy at his birth. His brain damaged condition means that he is dependent on a wheelchair for mobility, and has severe learning difficulties.

At the High Court Mr Justice Eady heard that the birth confused heart compensation settlement had been agreed between Shane´s legal representatives and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Trust without admission of liability, and was before him solely for his approval.

After hearing that the birth confused heartbeat compensation was to be paid out over the course of Shane´s life to ensure permanent care, the judge said “Shane has been very fortunate in relation to the devoted care he has been receiving from his parents over the past six years”.

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Emergency Misdiagnosis Compensation for Woman

The family of a Northumberland woman, who died after being misdiagnosed by an ambulance paramedic, has been awarded 40,000 pounds in emergency misdiagnosis compensation.

Denise Hopper (40), was taken to hospital after being involved in a car crash in December 2007, in which she broke several vertebrae and suffered fractured ribs. The paramedic who treated her at the scene also diagnosed that she was suffering from dehydration, when in fact she had deep vein thrombosis. Denise consequently received the wrong treatment on her arrival at the hospital, and two weeks later suffered a heart attack and died.

Following an investigation into her death, Denise’s two children sought legal advice and filed an action against the North East Ambulance Service for failing to demonstrate adequate clinical skills. The North East Ambulance Service accepted there had been a failure to make an accurate diagnosis, but did not admit liability for Denise’s death. Nonetheless, an emergency misdiagnosis compensation payment of 40,000 pounds for Denise’s children was agreed between legal representatives of the two sides.

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Wrong Prescription Poisoning Case Leads to Million Euro Award

The widow of a man who was administered the wrong drug to treat a case of poisoning, has had a wrong prescription poisoning compensation settlement of 1 million Euros approved in the High Court.

Colm O’Donovan (31) from Dunmanway, County Cork, had become ill in August 2005 with suspected food poisoning, and his wife, Patricia, had called the South Doc out of hours medical service. The doctor with the service gave Colm an injection of Cyclamorah, but the next morning his condition had deteriorated. Colm collapsed as he tried to get out of bed and started to suffer seizures.

Patricia once again got in touch with South Doc medical service, and this time Colm was attended by Dr. Johan Dirk van der Meer. Dr. van der Meer diagnosed that Colm’s seizures were a reaction to the first drug and administered an injection of Largactyl – claiming that it would control the seizures. Instead, Colm’s condition continued to worsen and, shortly after being attended by his GP the following morning, suffered a heart attack and died.

It was alleged in the subsequent wrong prescription poisoning action against South West Doctors On Call Ltd, trading as South Doc, of St Finan’s Hospital, County Kerry and Dr. van der Meer that Dr. van der Meer had failed to conduct a full examination of Colm. This, it was alleged, would have shown a serious illness for which Colm could have received treatment in hospital. It was also claimed that by administering the injection of Largactyl, Dr. van der Meer accelerated a serious illness which eventually lead to Colm’s death.

Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill was told in the High Court that liability had been admitted by Dr. van der Meer and the action against South Doc was struck out. Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill was also told that an agreement had been reached between Colm’s family and the negligent party for a compensation settlement of 1 million Euros, which he was happy to approve.

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