All Posts Tagged: Complaints against the Health Service

Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Birth Brain Injuries

A High Court judge has approved a $15 million settlement of compensation for birth brain injuries due to alleged negligence in favour of a nine-year-old boy.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the nine-year-old boy was born at Cork University Hospital at 9:00pm on August 11th 2008 after allegedly showing signs of foetal distress throughout the day. Among the alleged errors made by hospital staff prior to the boy´s delivery there had been a failure of skill in clinical history taking, and in the examination of the baby and his mother.

It was also alleged there had been an unreasonable delay in acting upon a CTG trace that indicated a variable decline in the foetal heart rate. As a result, it was claimed, the boy suffered brain birth injuries. Due to cerebral palsy and epilepsy, the boy suffers daily seizures, has visual and cognitive impairments, is confined to a wheelchair and requires full-time care. He will never be able to live independently.

Soon after the boy´s birth, his parents claimed compensation for birth brain injuries against Cork University Hospital and the HSE. Liability was eventually admitted in February last year after an eight-year wait, during which time the boy´s parents provided the majority of his care due to community services in Kerry being “almost non-existent” the boy´s mother told Judge Cross.

Prior to the judge approving the settlement of compensation for birth brain injuries, a statement was read to the family by representatives of Cork University Hospital, in which the hospital apologized for the errors that led to the boy´s brain injuries. The boy´s mother also read a statement to the court in which she described her son as a very happy boy who like being out on the fresh air.

Approving the settlement of compensation for birth brain injuries, Judge Cross ordered €720,000 of the settlement to be paid to the boy´s parents as special damages and the remainder to be paid into court. The judge said it was a very good settlement, and he wished the boy and his family well for the future.

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Woman Awarded Compensation for a Torn Artery during a Hospital Procedure

A fifty-year-old woman from Portlaoise has been awarded €855,000 compensation for a torn artery during a hospital procedure by a High Court judge.

The woman attended the Midland Regional Hospital in June 2002 for a routine diagnostic procedure to establish why she was unable to get pregnant. While she was under a general anaesthetic, a three-sided surgical instrument known as a trocar was inserted into her abdomen to allow for a laparoscopy.

However, during the insertion of the surgical instrument, the trocar punctured a vein and tore an artery, causing a significant amount of internal bleeding. A vascular surgeon was required to stop the bleeding, after which the woman spent two days on life support. As a consequence of the medical negligence, the woman continues to experience abdominal pain.

After seeking legal advice, the woman claimed compensation for a torn artery during a hospital procedure against the consultant obstetrician in charge of the procedure – Dr John Corristine – and the HSE. The defendants admitted liability for the original injury, but contested her continued abdomen pain was a consequence of the botched procedure.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard there was an alleged failure to ensure the equipment used for the laparoscopy procedure was in proper working order or that adequate precautions were in place to ensure the patient´s safety. He was told the woman lost eight pints of blood due to the torn artery, and that her pain and suffering is likely to persist for the rest of her life at its present level, if not worsen.

Judge Cross found that the botched medical procedure and the woman´s ongoing abdominal pain were linked. He said, although the injury was not catastrophic, the consequences of the medical negligence had significantly impaired the quality of the plaintiff´s life. Judge Cross awarded the woman €855,793 compensation for a torn artery during a hospital procedure to account for her past, present and future pain and suffering.

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Settlement of Compensation for Brain Damage at Birth Approved in Court

A €15 million lump sum settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth has been approved at the High Court in favour of a ten-year-old boy.

The boy was born by emergency Caesarean Section at Kerry General Hospital on May 25th 2006 following a catalogue of errors by hospital staff. Among a series of systematic failures resulting in the boy´s delivery being avoidably delayed by two hours, the consultant obstetrician was not made aware of a worrisome heart-rate pattern, the possibility of foetal hypoxia was not considered, and no action was taken on a CTG trace indicating foetal distress.

Due to the avoidable delay, the boy suffered devastating brain damage and was diagnosed with mixed dyskinetic spastic cerebral palsy. Now ten years of age, he requires 24-hour care, cannot speak and is confined to a wheelchair. To exacerbate the boy´s injuries, the HSE failed to admit liability for nine years, during which time the boy´s family had to care for him on their own without the support they should have received from the state.

The HSE only admitted liability early last year after being threatened with aggravated damages, and an interim settlement of €2.7 million compensation for brain damage at birth was rushed through the courts. Yesterday the family was back in court for the approval of a final lump sum settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth amounting to €15 million – an amount that was described as “commercial common and legal sense” by presiding judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

Approving the settlement, Judge Kelly paid tribute to the boy´s parents for the care of their son, and added while no money would compensate the boy and his family, it was the only form of redress the law could provide. He hoped it would give peace of mind that there is a fund to care for the boy´s needs into the future. As the boy is a ward of court, the settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth will be paid into court funds and managed by court authorities.

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Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Erb´s Palsy

A judge at the High Court has approved a €530,000 settlement of compensation for Erb´s palsy in favour of a six-year-old boy from County Kerry.

The boy on whose behalf the claim was made was born at Kerry General Hospital on March 22nd 2010. However, rather than being delivered by Caesarean section as had been requested by his mother on three separate occasions, the boy was delivered naturally with the assistance of a vacuum cup.

Due to the baby´s size, his shoulder got stuck as he passed through his mother´s birth canal and he suffered shoulder dystocia as medical staff tried to free him. Due to the force that was used during the procedure, the boy will now have a weakened left arm for the rest of his life.

On his son´s behalf, the boy´s father claimed compensation for Erb´s palsy against the Health Service Executive (HSE). Liability for the boy´s injuries was initially contested, but eventually the parties agreed on a settlement of compensation amounting to €530,000.

As the claim for compensation for Erb´s palsy had been made on behalf of a child, the settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the boy´s best interests. The approval hearing took place earlier this week at the High Court before Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the hearing, Judge Cross was told that an ultrascan had shown the boy to be a large baby and, because of his potential size, his mother had requested a Caesarean section delivery during a consultation and again when she was admitted to hospital in labour.

The judge also heard that the boy is very good at maths and has learned to write with his left hand, although he is unable to close buttons or tie shoes and will struggle at sports later in life. The judge approved the settlement of compensation for Erb´s palsy and wished the family well for the future.

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Interim Settlement of a Claim for the Failure to Act on a CTG Scan Approved

The €1.35 million interim settlement of a claim for the failure to act on a CTG scan has been approved in the High Court in favour of a six-year-old boy.

The mother of the young boy from Bantry in County Cork made the claim for the failure to act on a CTG scan on her son´s behalf, on the grounds that – had a CTG scan taken during the later stages of her pregnancy been interpreted properly – her child would have been delivered by an emergency Caesarean Section procedure in a timely manner.

Instead, due to an alleged failure to act on the CTG scan, the boy´s delivery at the Cork University Maternity Hospital was delayed. He suffered foetal distress in the womb due to hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy and, when he was delivered, he had suffered terrible brain damage and was blind. Now six years of age, the boy suffers seizures every day and requires 24-hours-a-day care.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) – against whom the claim for the failure to act on a CTG scan was made – denied liability for the boy´s birth injuries. However, after a period of negotiation, the HSE agreed to a €1.35 million interim settlement of compensation without an admission of liability while studies are conducted to assess the child´s future needs.

Because the claim for the failure to act on a CTG scan had been made on behalf of a legal minor, an approval hearing before Mr Justice Kevin Cross has scheduled for the High Court. At the hearing, Judge Cross was told that although the boy cannot speak, he is able to communicate his needs to his parents and carers from the Jack and Jill Foundation.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross also heard how it had been an ordeal for the family to get a compensation settlement from the State Claims Agency and that they was relieved that the legal process was over. Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of compensation – stating that it was a good one in the circumstances – and adjourned the case for three years.

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Claim for Undiagnosed Complications during Pregnancy Heard in Court

A claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy that resulted in a child suffering spastic diplegic cerebral palsy has been heard at the High Court.

The claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy was bought by the child´s mother against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Cork University Maternity Hospital after her son – one of twin boys born on 5th October 2010 – was diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.

The High Court heard that a scan conducted in June 2010 revealed a low-lying placenta, and that a second scan in September 2010 indicated there was a risk of vasa praevia – a pregnancy complication in which babies blood vessels cross or run near the internal opening of the uterus.

It was alleged in the court action that the Cork University Maternity Hospital should have conducted a more specific scan in September 2010 to address the risk of vasa praevia, and that the hospital demonstrated a failure to exercise reasonable care at the antenatal stage of the pregnancy.

As a result of the alleged negligence, one of the twins suffered foetal distress in the womb. He now suffers from spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, resulting in mobility and cognitive difficulties. Despite being flown to Missouri for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy to help him walk for the first time, he requires a walker or a wheelchair whenever he gets tired or ill.

At the High Court the HSE testified it was not normal practice to carry out a second scan to address the risk of vasa praevia and that it contested liability in the claim for undiagnosed complications during pregnancy. However, the court also heard that the HSE had agreed to an interim settlement of compensation for spastic diplegic cerebral palsy amounting to €1.98 million.

After hearing that the boy – now six years of age – had won a National Children of Courage Award in 2014, and that the funds will be used to provide him with greater access to private physiotherapy, speech, language and occupational therapy, the interim settlement was approved. The case will return to the High Court in five years after the boy´s future needs have been assessed.

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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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Court Approves Interim Settlement of Chicken Pox Misdiagnosis Compensation

The High Court has approved a €2.5 million interim settlement of chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation in favour of a young boy who suffered a brain injury.

Eoghan Keating from Upper Dunhill in County Waterford was soon to be celebrating his second birthday, when his parents took him to the A&E Department of Waterford Regional Hospital on August 24, 2012, suffering from a high fever and having developed a rash on his abdomen. Eoghan was misdiagnosed as having mumps and was sent home after being treated with ibuprofen and Carpol.

The little boy´s condition deteriorated during the night. He became lethargic and a swelling developed in his neck. His concerned parents – Larry and Martina – called the caredoc GP service, who advised that Eoghan be taken back to the hospital as soon as possible. On his return to the Waterford Regional Hospital, Eoghan was correctly diagnosed as having a chicken pox infection.

Eoghan was intubated and ventilated before being transferred to the Children´s Hospital in Dublin, but the correct diagnosis had come too late to prevent him from suffering a serious brain injury. Now six year of age, Eoghan is tetraplegic and cannot talk.

On her son´s behalf, Martina Keating made a claim for chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE), alleging that there had been a failure by medical staff at the Waterford Regional Hospital to admit her son or identify the indications of a significant infection. Liability for the medical negligence that resulted in Eoghan´s condition was acknowledged by the HSE and a €2.5 million interim settlement of chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation was agreed.

As the claim for chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation had been made on behalf of a child, the interim settlement had to be approved by a judge. Consequently the sequence of events leading up to Eoghan´s brain injury and the consequences of his injury were related to Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court. At the hearing, the family was also read an apology by the General Manager of Waterford Regional Hospital – Richard Dooley – for the “deficiencies in care provided to Eoghan”.

After commenting that the Keatings´ “suffering cannot be described or defined”, Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of chicken pox misdiagnosis compensation and adjourned the case for two years to allow for an assessment of Eoghan´s future needs. In two years´ time, the family will return to court for the approval of a second interim compensation settlement unless a system of periodic payments has been introduced in the intervening period.

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Minister Plans to Enforce Medical Negligence Open Disclosure Policy

Health Minister Simon Harris has announced that he is to push forward with legislation to enforce a medical negligence open disclosure policy.

The Health Minister´s intentions to push forward with legislation to enforce a medical negligence open disclosure policy were revealed in an address to delegates at the State Claims Agency´s first annual “Quality, Patient Safety & Clinical Risk Conference” at Dublin Castle on Monday.

Mr Harris said that the establishment of a new National Patient Safety Office would “lead a program of significant patient safety measures” that included a review of how adverse medical events are disclosed to patients and their families and the process for claiming medical negligence compensation.

The National Patient Safety Office will be led by a team of experts under the auspices of the Department of Justice and Equality. Its roles include:

  • Setting up a national patient advocacy service.
  • Introducing a patient safety surveillance system.
  • Establishing a national advisory council for patient safety.

The National Patient Safety Office will also be responsible for accelerating the progress of the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill – although enactment of the bill may not be possible until the EU has concluded its work on revised European-wide data protection standards.

This is because the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill contains measures to protect patients´ private healthcare information while aiming to create a national network of healthcare data to improve the provision and management of healthcare services throughout Ireland.

The news that the Health Minister at least intends to enforce a medical negligence open disclosure policy will be welcomed by legal figures and patient safety experts who have campaigned for many years for a legal duty of candour to be introduced.

Some have claimed that the HSE´s 2013 national guidelines for open disclosure have been widely ignored since their publication, and that former Health Minister Leo Varadkar missed an opportunity to enforce a medical negligence open disclosure policy in the Civil Liberty (Amendment) Bill 2015.

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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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