All Posts Tagged: Claims for Wrongful Death

Class Action for Side Effects of Sodium Valproate Started in France

A class action for the side effects of sodium valproate has been started in France on behalf of children who sustained foetal valproate syndrome in the womb.

Sodium valproate is an active ingredient of the drug Epilim. Epilim was introduced in Ireland in 1983 after successfully treating patients in France for epilepsy and bipolar disorder for almost twenty years. Because it works by stabilising electrical activity in the brain, Epilim has also been prescribed for migraine and chronic pain.

Unbeknown to the medical profession in Ireland, pregnant women taking Epilim break down the sodium valproate and it is absorbed into the bloodstream as valproic acid. The valproic acid travels along the bloodstream and into the womb, where it can have an adverse effect on the development of the foetus. Children who have sustained foetal valproate syndrome in the womb have been born with a wide range of health issues from autism to spina bifida, and from a cleft palate to kidney development problems.

The side effects of sodium valproate during pregnancy were identified before the drug was introduced in Ireland, but the evidence was allegedly covered up due to not being sufficiently conclusive. Small scale studies have also failed to conclusively prove a link between Epilim and the side effects of sodium valproate during pregnancy, but now France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) has looked deeper into the issue and produced an alarming report.

ANSM researched the health of 8,701 children born between 2007 and 2014 whose mothers were known to have taken the French-branded equivalent of Epilim during their pregnancies. The agency believes it has identified up to 4,100 children suffering from the side effects of sodium valproate and discovered that hundreds of stillbirths during the period were also attributable to foetal valproate syndrome.

The results of ANSM´s research have prompted a class action against in France against the manufacturer of Epilim – Sanofi – on behalf of the children who sustained foetal valproate syndrome in the womb. The parents of the children claim that Sanofi did not do enough to warn the medical profession of the risks associated with taking Epilim during pregnancy and the side effects of sodium valproate.

 In Ireland, it is not known how many children have been diagnosed with foetal valproate syndrome. A support group – the FACS Forum – has called on the government to conduct an audit to identify the scale of the problem in Ireland and what support measures are needed for families. For further information, the FACS Forum can be reached via the disability-federation.ie website, or you can speak with a solicitor.

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Settlement of Claim for Nervous Shock against the HSE Approved at Court

The €98,000 settlement of a claim for nervous shock against the HSE (Health Service Executive) has been approved at a hearing of the High Court.

The claim for nervous shock against the HSE was made by a husband and wife from Ballyneety in County Limerick following the traumatic circumstances of their daughter´s death on July 15, 2010, at the Limerick Regional Maternity Hospital.

The couple´s baby girl – their fourth child – had been born in good health. However, due to alleged hospital negligence after her birth, the child died six hours after her birth. The cause of death was attributed to a severe loss of blood.

After seeking legal advice, the couple made a claim for nervous shock against the HSE. They alleged in their claim that the severe loss of blood was attributable to the height above the placenta to which the baby had been raised after her birth to untangle her from the umbilical cord.

They also alleged that there had been a failure to clamp the umbilical cord in an effective and timely manner, and that their daughter´s severe loss of blood had gone undetected until she became floppy and collapse. The HSE denied the allegations.

Despite the failure to acknowledge liability, an offer of €98,000 compensation was made to the couple by the State Claims Agency. The couple accepted the offer under advisement but, due to the nature of the circumstances behind the claim, the settlement had to be approved by a judge.

Consequently a hearing was scheduled to approve the settlement at the High Court. At the hearing, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told there was a dispute surrounding the cause of the child´s death and that the parents of the little girl appreciated their claims would be difficult to prove in a full hearing.

A statement of regret was read to the parents of the child by a representative of the HSE, before Judge Cross approved the settlement of the claim for nervous shock against the HSE. He also extended his sympathy to the parents for their loss.

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Claim for the Death of a Child due to Medical Misadventure Heard in Court

The €70,000 settlement of a compensation claim for the death of a child due to medical misadventure has been approved at the High Court.

On 20th November 2012, Fiona Watters attended the Cavan General Hospital in the later stages of her first pregnancy. Fiona was admitted to the hospital and, at 10:30am on the morning of 22nd November, her waters broke. Under the care of consultant obstetrician Dr Salah Aziz, Fiona was administered Prostiglandin to accelerate her labour.

The dosage of Prostiglandin was increased throughout the day and, at 9:30pm that evening, a natural birth was attempted. Despite pushing for an hour the baby´s head was still not visible and the duty midwife called Dr Aziz to advise him the indications were that the infant was suffering foetal distress.

Dr Aziz attempted to organize a C-section delivery, but discovered that the only out-of-hours theatre at the hospital was occupied. A forceps delivery and a vacuum delivery were both attempted unsuccessfully, and Fiona had to wait until the out-of-hours theatre became available in order to deliver her son.

When Jamie was born, he was in a very poor condition. He was resuscitated and transferred to the special care baby unit at the Rotunda Hospital. Tragically Jamie died in his mother´s arms two days later.

An investigation was launched into the cause of baby Jamie´s death, but the report subsequent to the investigation was quashed by the High Court in August 2013 following Dr Aziz´s assertions that investigators from the Health Service Executive had not conducted the investigation according to the correct procedures.

Having received an advanced copy of the report, Fiona and her partner – Francis Flynn – sought legal advice and made a compensation claim for the death of a child due to medical misadventure. The Health Service Executive failed to accept liability for Jamie´s death until July 2014, and subsequently commissioned a second investigation into his death.

In December 2014, an inquest into Jamie´s death confirmed that he had died due to medical misadventure. The coroner attributed the increase in the administration of Prostiglandin, Dr Aziz´s failure to inform the hospital registrar that the drug had been administered, and the lack of a second out-of-hours theatre at the hospital being causative events.

Following the coroner´s verdict, the solicitor representing Fiona and Francis negotiated a settlement of the compensation claim for the death of a child due to medical misadventure with the State Claims Agency. Due to the traumatic circumstances of Jamie´s birth and the protracted nature of the investigations into Jamie´s death, the settlement amounted to €70,000.

As the settlement of the claim for the death of a child due to medical misadventure had to be approved by a judge before the case could be closed, the circumstances of Jamie´s birth and the subsequent delays experienced by the family were related to Mr Justice Richard Humphreys at the High Court. Judge Humphreys approved the settlement, stipulating that €5,000 should be paid into court funds for the benefit of Fiona and Francis´ daughter when she becomes a legal adult.

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Settlement of Compensation for the Misdiagnosis of Meningitis Approved

A settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis has been approved for a widow told her husband´s condition was due to constipation.

Philip Morrissey from Kilkenny visited his GP on 26th May 2010 complaining of headaches, a high temperature and an earache. He was referred to the A&E Department of St Luke´s Hospital and admitted after being found to have a high pulse rate and an intolerance to light.

Six hours after his admission, Philip´s wife – Gail – noticed that he was drowsy and disorientated. She raised her concerns with the hospital staff, but was told that Philip´s condition was due to him being constipated.

However, the following morning – two days before his fortieth birthday – Philip was found dead in his hospital bed having suffered a cardiac arrest. The cardiac arrest was later attributed to streptococcal pneumonia meningitis.

After seeking legal advice, Gail claimed compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis – alleging that there had been a failure to consider that meningitis was the cause of Philip´s symptoms, and that there had been no adequate attempt made to diagnose his condition and treat it.

An investigation into Philip´s death revealed that he had not been seen by a hospital doctor since 3:40pm the day before his death. The Health Service Executive (HSE) admitted liability and a settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis was negotiated amounting to €455,000.

Due to the nature of Philip´s death, the settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis had to be approved before the claim could be resolved. The approval hearing was held earlier this week at the High Court before Mr Justice Michael Hanna.

At the hearing, Judge Hanna was told the circumstances of Philip´s admission into St Luke´s Hospital and the treatment Philip received. The court also heard a statement read out to Philip´s family apologising for the standard of care he had received at the hospital.

Judge Hanna subsequently approved the settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis – saying that the family had suffered a “huge tragedy” and, while the compensation settlement could never make up for Philip´s loss, it was the best the law could do.

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Family Pursue Compensation for the Failure to Identify and Treat Sepsis

The family of a woman who died from a post-surgical infection has made a claim for compensation for the failure to identify and treat sepsis.

Fifty-two year old Susan McGee – a mother of two from Rush in County Dublin – attended the Hermitage Medical Clinic on 13th July 2013 for minor hernia surgery. The surgery initially appeared to be successful, and Susan was discharged from the medical facility on 16th July to be cared for by her daughter – Melissa Barry.

On the 17th July, Susan complained of having an abdominal pain and feeling unwell. Melissa took her back to the Hermitage Medical Clinic in Dublin City Centre, where she was readmitted for observation. However, over the weekend of 20th and 21st July Susan´s condition deteriorated. On 22nd July, Susan underwent a CT scan that revealed an obstruction in her small bowel.

The blockage in Susan´s bowel was removed the same day, but her condition continued to deteriorate. Susan was transferred to the intensive care department of the Beaumont Hospital on 23rd July, but she died the following day from multiple organ failure brought on by sepsis that had been triggered by a C.difficle infection.

An inquest into Susan´s death was initially scheduled for February 2015, but it had to be adjourned as only the consultants in charge of Susan´s care had given statements – and one of those had gone on annual leave five days before her death. There were also concerns that evidence given by the nurses at the Hermitage Medical Clinic might be contradicted by Susan´s family.

The rescheduled inquest was held in June 2015; when Dublin City Coroner´s Court heard that there had been a failure by nurses at the Hermitage Medical Clinic to report brown faecal fluid draining from Susan´s nasogastric tube. It was also revealed that Susan´s vital signs had not been recorded between 8:00am and 6:00pm on Sunday 21st July – three days before she died.

The inquest also heard that only one resident medical officer was on duty over the weekend of 20th and 21st July – Dr Lachman Pahwani. Dr Pahwani testified that he was aware Susan´s condition had been deteriorating and had tried to spend as much time with her as possible. However, Susan was one of 81 patients that were staying at the medical facility at the time.

Susan´s death was recorded as being due to medical misadventure, after which her family sought legal advice and made a claim for compensation for the failure to identify and treat sepsis. According to a spokesperson for the family, a summons has now been issued and served on the Hermitage Medical Clinic.

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HSE Apology for Medical Misadventure Six Years Too Late for Parents

An HSE apology for medical misadventure has been rejected by the parents of a girl who died shortly after her birth because it is “six years too late”.

On 11th February 2009, Joan Mulcair from Corbally in County Limerick gave birth to a baby girl at the Midland Regional Hospital. Joan and her husband John had tried for many years to conceive a child and, despite a painful labour, the couple were overjoyed when baby Caoimhe was born.

However, joy quickly turned to sorrow. It was noticed that baby Caoimhe was not crying as new born babies should. She was rushed to the hospital´s special care unit but died in her mother´s arms thirty-nine minutes after being born.

At last week´s inquest into Caoimhe´s death, the jury heard that a deceleration of the foetal heartbeat had been recorded during Joan´s labour, and death was due to a lack of blood and oxygen supply to the brain. The jury returned a verdict of death by medical misadventure.

During the hearing, Joan and John were read an apology by Collette Cowan, the chief executive of the Midland Regional Hospital. Ms Cowan apologised for the mistakes that had been made prior to and during Caoimhe´s delivery and said that lessons had been learned by the hospital.

However, Caoimhe´s parents rejected the HSE apology for medical adventure, saying that it had come “six years too late”. Speaking after the inquest, John said that it was a disgrace that the HSE had put “an ordinary decent family through the pain and torment we had to endure for over six years”.

John explained to reporters that there had been no HSE apology for medical misadventure during the time that the family had been battling the HSE for compensation. Liability for Caoimhe´s death was admitted last December, and a settlement of the family´s claim was negotiated.

In response to the rejection, a spokesperson for the Health Service Executive said it had no control over the handling of medical negligence claims. He said these were handled by the State Claims Agency. The passing of the buck from the HSE to the SCA was described as a “shabby episode” by a columnist in the Irish Times, who wrote:

“A common interest links the HSE and the claims agency and there has been a persistent pattern of denial, prevarication and years of unnecessary delay in dealing with medical claims. The public and aggrieved patients deserve better. So do the vast majority of medical professionals.”

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HSE Acknowledges Liability in Medical Negligence Dehydration Claim

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has acknowledged failings in their duty of care and apologised to a family who made a medical negligence dehydration claim after their mother died due to multiple organ failure.

The family of Eileen Brady made their medical negligence dehydration claim for compensation after an investigation into the death of their mother at Cavan General Hospital in January 2010 revealed a “catalogue of errors”.

Eileen (65) had been admitted to the Cavan General Hospital after her GP had diagnosed that her mouth ulcers were attributable to a poor fluid intake. Eileen was already undergoing chemotherapy in Dublin for stomach cancer and, due to her veins collapsing, the dehydration treatment she received at Cavan General Hospital was ineffective.

However, medical experts determined that Eileen´s death due to organ failure could have been prevented had medical staff at the hospital paid closer attention to Eileen´s medical chart, consulted senior doctors when Eileen´s condition continued to deteriorate, or spoken with specialists in Dublin who were treating Eileen for cancer.

Following the investigation, Eileen´s son – Martin Brady from Crosskeys in County Cavan – made a medical negligence dehydration claim for compensation against the Cavan General Hospital and HSE, alleging that he and other members of the Brady family had suffered mental distress due to their mother´s tragic and avoidable death.

The HSE admitted liability, and the medical negligence dehydration claim was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum; however, as part of the settlement, the family wanted a public apology read to them in court. Consequently, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine instructed barristers representing the HSE to read the apology.

The statement said that the hospital and HSE apologised for the failings in their duty of care which resulted in Eileen´s death, and the grief and stress that had been suffered by her family and friends as a result. Responding on behalf of the family, Aidan Brady said he hoped both Cavan General Hospital and the HSE had learned from “the grave mistakes” made in the care of his mother – after which Ms Justice Mary Irvine extended her personal sympathy to Eileen´s family.

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Health Service Executive Apologises for Childbirth Medical Negligence at Portlaoise Hospital

The National Director of Quality & Patient Safety at the Health Service Executive – Dr Philip Crowley – has apologised to four families whose babies died due to childbirth medical negligence at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise.

Dr Crowley´s apology was made prior to the broadcasting of RTE´s Prime Time “Fatal Failures” program – an exposé of the failings in care at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise which resulted in the avoidable deaths of four babies during the last six years.

The program featured Roisin and Mark Molloy from Tullamore in County Offaly, whose son Mark died as a consequence of foetal hypoxia in the womb soon after his delivery on January 24th 2012. The couple had to battle with the hospital for four months before it was conceded that Mark had a heartbeat when he was born, and an investigation into his death was initiated.

Even then, it took a further twenty months to conclude the investigation – a delay which was described by Dr Crowley as “lamentable” – which ultimately reported that “failures in the standard of care provided were casually linked to the foetal hypoxia damage that occurred”. The report recommended a number of actions to prevent the same mistakes happening again.

However, a short time later, Roisin Molloy was listening to the radio when she heard Shauna Keyes recount how her son – Joshua – had died soon after his birth at the Midland General Hospital in similar circumstances. The two women got in touch with each other and RTE´s Investigation Unit picked up the story.

The RTE Investigation Unit discovered there were at least two further incidents of babies dying after birth due to childbirth medical negligence – both of which had been investigated internally at the hospital, but the results of the investigations never delivered to the grieving parents. The RTE investigators also disclosed that none of the recommended measures following baby Mark Molloy´s death had been implemented and, if they had, all three of the childbirth fatalities could have been avoided.

Appearing in the program, Dr Philip Crowley apologised “unequivocally” to the parents who had lost children due to childbirth medical negligence and, appearing on the radio show Today, the Minister for Health – Dr James Reilly – also commented that the level of service provided at the Midland Hospital in Portlaoise was “utterly unacceptable”. The Minister said that he had asked the Chief Medical Officer to conduct a further investigation into the failings of care at the hospital.

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Couple Agree Compensation for Emotional Trauma after Baby´s Death

A young couple from Dublin, whose child could not be resuscitated after she was born by emergency C-Section, have agreed a settlement of compensation for an emotional trauma after their baby´s death.  

Jane Farren and Feidhlimidh Wrafter from Rathgar in Dublin both suffered nervous shock when their new-born baby could not be resuscitated after being delivered by an emergency Caesarean Section at the Rotunda Hospital on 16 October 2008.

They made a claim for compensation for an emotional trauma after a baby´s death against both the Rotunda Hospital and consultant gynaecologist Professor Fergal Malone, alleging that during the period immediately before their daughter´s delivery, Jane´s labour had been mismanaged.

Jane had been admitted to the hospital on the previous day due to a spontaneous membrane rupture. She had been given Syntocinin to induce her labour and, at 3.45am in the morning, a vacuum delivery had been attempted.

Half an hour later, Jane and Feidhlimidh´s daughter – Molly – was delivered by an emergency Caesarean Section, but staff at the hospital could not resuscitate her, and Molly was declared dead twenty minutes later.

In their compensation claim for an emotional trauma after a baby´s death, Jane and Feidhlimidh alleged that Professor Malone and nursing staff at the hospital had failed to identify abnormalities in the foetal heart rate at an early enough stage, and when the abnormalities were noticed, failed to act upon them in a timely manner.

It was also alleged that the couple had been misinformed during Jane´s labour and the delivery of their daughter, and that they were led to believe after Molly´s death that the cause of death could not be explained and there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it.

The Rotunda Hospital and Professor Malone denied their liability for Molly´s death; however the High Court was told that a settlement of compensation for an emotional trauma after a baby´s death had been negotiated amounting to €150,000 without admission of liability and that the case could be struck out.

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Claim for Wrongful Death due to Medication Error Settled Out of Court

The widow of a man, who died after receiving hospital treatment for an infected toe, has settled her claim for wrongful death due to a medication error out of court.

Margaret Devereux from Greenrath in County Tipperary made her compensation claim for wrongful death due to a medication error following her husband´s death in Cork University Hospital in March 2008.

John Devereux had originally attended the South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel in January 2008 with a toe infection on his right foot. Doctors diagnosed that he was suffering with septic arthritis, prescribed Sodium Fusidate to treat the infection and sent him home.

However, John returned to South Tipperary General Hospital the following month after experiencing pains in his arms and legs. The toe infection had got no better, so he was administered with further doses of Sodium Fusidate and kept in for observation.

John´s condition deteriorated and it was later diagnosed that he was suffering with rhabdmoloysis – a condition in which the muscles break down – which may have been due to a conflict between the Sodium Fusidate that had been prescribed for him and his existing diabetic medicine, Lipitor.

As a consequence of the muscle breakdown, John developed acute renal failure, and he was transferred to Cork University Hospital where he died on March 2nd.

John´s grieving widow took legal advice about whether she had a claim for wrongful death due to a medication error which was worth her while to pursue, and despite the Health Service Executive denying that it had been in breach of its duty of care, a settlement of compensation was negotiated.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mrs Justice Mary Irvine heard that Margaret Devereux had settled her claim for wrongful death due to a medication error for €45,000 and, commenting that there would have been a “huge hill to climb to establish liability”, approved the settlement – describing the case as very tragic.

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