All Posts Tagged: Compensation for the Failure to Treat

Claim for Birth Injuries against Sligo General Hospital Heard in Court

A claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital has been heard in the High Court ahead of the approval of an interim settlement of compensation.

In May 2010, the boy – on whose behalf the claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital was made – was born by emergency Caesarean Section, more than two hours after a CTG trace had indicated he was suffering foetal distress in the womb. Due to the avoidable delay, the boy was starved of oxygen and now – six years of age – he suffers from cerebral palsy.

Although the boy has since moved to Canada, he made a claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital through his mother. On behalf of Sligo General Hospital, the Health Service Executive (HSE) quickly acknowledged responsibility for the boy´s cerebral palsy injury and negotiations began to settle the claim. During mediation, HSE personnel not only apologised for a failure in its duty of care, but explained to the boy´s parents how the failure occurred.

Eventually it was agreed that the boy should receive an interim compensation settlement of €740,000 to cover the costs of his past care and the care he will need over the next five years. However, as the claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the boy´s best interests.

The approval hearing took place at the High Court, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the circumstances surrounding the boy´s birth and the details of the settlement negotiations. As well as praising the boy´s parents for the care they had provided him with over the past six years, he commended the HSE for its attitude in the case.

Commenting that an apology and an explanation was “absolutely something to be encouraged”, Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of cerebral palsy compensation and adjourned the claim for birth injuries against Sligo General Hospital for five years. In five years, once assessments have been conducted to evaluate the boy´s future needs, the family hope that the option of a structured payment system will be in place to ensure their son´s financial security.

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Compensation for the Failure to Administer Antibiotics Approved at Court

An interim settlement of €2.4 million compensation for the failure to administer antibiotics has been approved in favour of a five-year-old brain damaged boy.

Eoghan Dunne from Tullamore in County Offaly was just eleven months old when, on 3rd August 2012, he was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe suffering from a fever, breathlessness and lethargy.

Due to his high heart rate and “severe respiratory distress”, Eoghan was transferred to the Temple Street Children´s Hospital in Dublin. He subsequently suffered septic shock and a cardiac arrest. During the cardiac arrest, Eoghan´s brain was starved of oxygen and suffered major neurological damage.

Now five years of age, Eoghan suffers from epilepsy, cannot walk or talk and is visually impaired. He will need twenty-four hour care for the rest of his life.

Following a review of his treatment, Eoghan´s parents claimed compensation for the failure to administer antibiotics when their son was first admitted to the Portiuncula Hospital. It was alleged that, had Eoghan been given antibiotics at the time, the septic shock would not have occurred.

The Portiuncula Hospital and the Health Service Executive denied liability for Eoghan´s injury until earlier this week. An interim settlement of compensation for the failure to administer antibiotics was agreed, and presented to Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court for approval.

At the approval hearing, Judge Cross was told that the hospital was ill-prepared for Eoghan´s admission – despite being forewarned by the family´s GP – and had ignored HSE guidelines for the treatment of sepsis. The court also heard how it there had been “difficulty identifying competent staff to transfer him”.

Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of compensation for the failure to administer antibiotics, commenting that it would be helpful if the HSE admitted liability in such cases so that families such as the Dunne´s did not have to resort to litigation in order to get justice.

Outside the court, Eoghan´s father – Ronan Dunne – echoed Judge Cross´ words when he told reporters Eoghan had lost out on possible therapy and treatment for his injuries at “a vital developmental stage” because of the HSE´s reluctance to admit liability in the case.

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Compensation for a Patient in a Coma Approved at the High Court

A €550,000 interim settlement of compensation for a patient in a coma due to alleged medical negligence has been approved at a hearing of the High Court.

In October 2011, seventy-one year old Robert Bolton – a former funeral director and talented musician – underwent surgery at St James Hospital in Dublin. The surgery on Robert´s oesophagus was initially considered successful. However, the following morning James suffered a heart attack due to a respiratory failure caused by sepsis.

Robert was moved to the intensive care unit of the hospital, where his condition deteriorated and he suffered a hypoxic ischaemic brain injury. He has been in a coma ever since – oblivious to the presence of his family and unable to communicate. Robert now relies of twenty-four hour specialist care to provide his basic needs.

Robert´s wife – Angela – engaged a solicitor to investigate the standard of care Robert had received after his surgery and throughout his stay in the intensive care unit. She subsequently claimed compensation for a patient in a coma on her husband´s behalf, alleging that the hospital had failed to diagnose Robert´s sepsis or identify that he was suffering from organ failure as a result.

The hospital contested the claim, but acknowledged that there had been failings in the standard of care. A €550,000 interim settlement of compensation for a patient in a coma was negotiated to ensure that Robert receives the care he needs for the next two years – after which a final settlement of the claim will be determined.

As the claim for compensation for a patient in a coma had been made on behalf of a plaintiff unable to represent themselves, the case went to the High Court for an approval hearing before Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Judge Cross was told the circumstances of Robert´s heart attack, its probable cause, and the consequences of his condition to his wife and family.

After Angela told Judge Cross the family was happy that Robert´s care would be provided for, the judge approved the interim settlement of compensation for a patient in a coma – commenting that the interim settlement was clearly the result of hard bargaining. The judge then closed the approval hearing, wishing Angela and her family all the best for the future.

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Settlement of Medical Negligence Claim against the Rotunda Hospital Approved

A judge at the High Court has approved a €3 million interim settlement of a young boy´s medical negligence claim against the Rotunda Hospital.

On 20th February 2004, Mohammad Daud Assad was delivered by emergency C-Section at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin after a deterioration in his foetal heart rate had been identified. Tragically Mohammad was deprived of oxygen in the womb and needed resuscitating after his birth.

Mohammad now suffers from cerebral palsy, is unable to speak and has both physical and mental disabilities. Although he attends a mainstream school, Mohammad will require full-time support for the rest of his life.

Mohammad´s mother – Alia Muryem Assad from Ballyfermot in Dublin – made a medical negligence claim against the Rotunda Hospital, alleging that there had been a delay in summoning an obstetrician after the deterioration of Mohammad´s heart rate had been identified and, as a result, the C-Section operation was avoidably delayed.

It was also alleged in the medical negligence claim against the Rotunda hospital that the hospital had failed to properly assess Alia on her admission into the hospital and consider the possibility of a placental function failure as she was ten days overdue. Alia arrived at the hospital at 9:00am in the morning, but Mohammad was not born until 10:30pm that evening.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that liability for Mohammad´s birth injury had only been acknowledged within the last two weeks. He also heard that an amount of €3 million compensation had been agreed as an interim settlement of the medical negligence claim against the Rotunda Hospital.

Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of the claim, commenting that the way in which the extended family had rallied round to help Mohammad´s parents “restored one´s faith in humanity”. The judge then adjourned the medical negligence claim against the Rotunda Hospital for six years, when an assessment of Mohammad´s future requirements will be carried out.

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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.

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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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Court Approves €9 Million Settlement of Compensation for Tetraplegic Birth Injuries

The High Court has approved a settlement of compensation for tetraplegic birth injuries in favour of a 10-year-old girl after 18 days of negotiations.

In April 2005, Alex Butler was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital by Caesarean Section after suffering foetal distress in the womb. Due to errors by the locum who was covering for her mother´s consultant obstetrician, Alex´s birth was avoidably delayed by ten minutes and Alex was delivered “blue and lifeless”.

Alex was resuscitated but, due to being deprived of oxygen, she suffered severe brain damage and is now tetraplegic. Despite being described as having a “bright personality with a huge intelligence”, Alex is mostly confined to a wheelchair and will require constant care throughout the rest of her life.

On Alex´s behalf, her mother Sonya claimed compensation for tetraplegic birth injuries against the Health Service Executive – who acknowledged liability in 2013. The family received an interim compensation payment of €1.4 million, and the case was adjourned for two years to allow for the introduction of a structured compensation payment system.

As legislation has not yet been passed for a structured compensation payment system, the claim for compensation for tetraplegic birth injuries was heard again recently by Mr Justice Anthony Barr at the High Court.

The hearing started with an apology read to Alex and her parents by a representative of Waterford Regional Hospital, but thereafter deteriorated into a dispute over how much compensation for tetraplegic birth injuries Alex should be entitled to.

The hearing continued for eighteen days until an agreement was reached. Approving the €9 million settlement of compensation for tetraplegic birth injuries, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said the settlement was reasonable and sensible – but, outside of court, Alex´s mother said that she was shocked that negotiations had taken so long.

Sonya Butler described the State Claims Agency´s approach to negotiations as “disgusting” and told reporters “They fought tooth and nail. They basically want Alex to have an existence, not a life. They want her to scrape by with the bare minimum rather than her having the life that she should have had.”

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