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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Delayed Birth Cerebral Palsy Injuries Compensated after 27 Year Wait

A woman, who developed cerebral palsy after her birth was needlessly delayed in 1984, has secured a 3 million Euro delayed birth cerebral palsy compensation settlement in the High Court. Lisa Carroll (27) from Killala, County Mayo, was born at the Mayo General Hospital in March 1984 several weeks overdue. A planned inducement was not carried out and Lisa’s mother had to carry her pregnancy into a forty-third week.

In the High Court, Mr. Justice John Quirk heard that once she was born, Lisa spent the first three weeks of her life in hospital, during which time she suffered three seizures which led to her current condition.

It was alleged that, had Lisa’s mother – Noreen – been admitted when her full term was reached, and tests carried out to ensure the health of the foetus, Lisa would not have suffered such traumatic injuries.

Expert witnesses said that there was no justifiable reason for the delay in Lisa’s delivery, and although Lisa can communicate and attended mainstream school, she is confined to a wheelchair for life.

The delayed birth cerebral palsy injury award of 3 million Euros was made against the Mayo General Hospital and Health Service Executive without admission of liability.

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