All Posts Tagged: hospital wrongful death claim

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 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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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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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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Court Approves Compensation for Delayed Surgery which Resulted in Fatal Injury

The High Court has approved a €165,000 settlement of compensation for delayed surgery which resulted in a fatal injury to a 60-year-old wife and mother.

Helen Malone from Carlow died on 12th January 2006 at St Luke´s General Hospital in Kilkenny, four days after she had undergone surgery for a bowel complaint. An inquest into her death revealed that Helen died due to systemic sepsis and multiple organ failure brought about by a perforated bowel and that, had she had the operation sooner, there was a strong likelihood that Helen would have survived.

Because the operation for Helen´s bowel complaint had been delayed several times, her widower – Patrick – made a claim for compensation for delayed surgery which resulted in a fatal injury. He claimed in his action against St Luke´s General Hospital, consultant surgeon George Nessim and the HSE, that Helen´s avoidable death had caused him and Helen´s six adult children great mental distress.

In 2009, the Irish Medical Council found Dr Nessim guilty on four counts of professional misconduct in relation to Helen´s death, but the HSE refused to acknowledged liability for failing to meet the appropriate standard of care. Court proceedings were issued, and after five separate postponements, the case came before Mr Justice Ryan at the High Court.

At the hearing, Judge Ryan was told that a settlement of compensation for the delayed surgery which resulted in fatal injury to Helen had been agreed amounting to €165,000. The judge was also informed that as a condition of the settlement, the HSE had to read an apology to the family acknowledging that the standard of care afforded to Helen was sub-standard and led to a series of events which caused her untimely death.

After hearing the apology read to the family, Judge Ryan approved the compensation settlement – commending both sides for settling “a difficult, painful and tragic case”.

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Widower Entitled to Claim for Wrongful Death due to Failure to Act on Scan Results

A widower has been told that he can claim for a wrongful death due to a failure to act on scan results after a High Court judge rejected the HSE´s application to dismiss the case.

Joseph Hewitt made his claim for wrongful death due to a failure to act on scan results following the death of his wife Dolores in June 2010. Dolores had made a full recovery from breast cancer in 2001, and was undergoing monitoring at Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan, County Meath; when – in February 2007 – a routine scan detected two cancerous lesions on her liver.

The scan results were not acted upon at the time by the hospital, and it was only when Dolores had a chance meeting with a surgeon five months later that the results of her scan were discussed. Dolores´ conversation with the surgeon prompted further ultrasound scans to be conducted, and further lesions were discovered on Dolores´ liver. Dolores started undergoing treatment for cancer once again, but the condition had progressed too far to respond to the treatment and Dolores died in June 2010.

Joseph – her widower – made a claim for wrongful death due to a failure to act on scan results against Our Lady´s Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE). He alleged in his action that, had Our Lady´s Hospital acted on Dolores´ scan results within a reasonable period of time in February 2007,  her wrongful death would have been avoided.

Our Lady´s Hospital and the HSE contested the claim for wrongful death due to a failure to act on scan results, arguing that Joseph´s allegations were founded on Dolores´ treatment in 2007, and that the claim for hospital negligence made in 2012 was outside the two-year period allowed to make a personal injury claim established by the Civil Liability Act of 1961 (known as the “Statute of Limitations”).

The HSE applied for the claim for wrongful death due to a failure to act on scan results to be dismissed, but Joseph´s solicitor advised him to oppose the application and the case for dismissal was subsequently heard at the High Court in Dublin by Ms Justice Marie Baker.

Ms Justice Marie Baker agreed with the HSE´s argument that the time period had expired for claiming compensation for hospital negligence that allegedly occurred in 2007; however, the judge said that Joseph´s the claim for wrongful death due to a failure to act on scan results, related to the death of his wife in June 2010, and therefore his January 2012 claim was still within the period of time allowed by the Statute of Limitations.

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Family Hear Apology from Hospital for Failing to Diagnose Abdomen Cancer

The family of a young woman who died due to medical negligence have heard an apology for failing to diagnose abdomen cancer read out by the hospital responsible for her death.

Thirty-one year old Sharon McEneaney died from a cancerous tumour in her abdomen in April 2009 – eighteen months after she had first attended the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda complaining of abdominal pain.

No investigation action was taken in the emergency room, and Sharon´s tumour went undiagnosed for over a year until – due to the intervention of former TD Dr Rory O´Hanlon – a biopsy was performed in June 2008.

By then it was too late for Sharon from Carrickmacross in County Monaghan to benefit from conventional cancer treatments, and she died nine months later.

An investigation carried out by the Health Service Executive (HSE) after Sharon´s death made thirty-eight separate recommendations to prevent the hospital failing to diagnose abdomen cancer in the future.

In January 2012, a hearing of the Medical Council of Ireland´s Fitness to Practise Committee found Sharon´s attending physician – Dr Etop Samson Akpan – guilty of a poor professional performance.

At the High Court in Dublin, the General Manager of the Louth & Meath Hospital Group – Margaret Swords – read out an apology to Sharon´s family, admitting that the hospital had failed Sharon.

Ms Swords stated that the hospital was making progress in making the changes required by the HSE´s report into Sharon´s death but, five years later, six of the HSE´s recommendations are still to be put into action.

The court was also told that a settlement of compensation for the hospital failing to diagnose abdomen cancer had been agreed between the hospital and the McEneaney family amounting to €62,500.

€10,000 of the settlement will cover the costs of Sharon´s funeral and other expenses connected with her death, while Sharon´s mother – Jane – is to receive €27,100, and the remainder to be shared between Sharon´s four siblings.

Closing the hearing, Ms Justice Mary Irvine commended Sharon´s family for their tenacity and courage, and commented “You have shown marvellous fortitude in the face of such a loss”.

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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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Compensation Settlement Approved following Fatal Overdose of Medication Claim

The family of a mother-of-three, who died due the negligent administration of sedatives by hospital staff, has had the settlement of their fatal overdose of medication claim approved at the High Court.

Margaret Duggan from Screen in County Wexford was admitted to St. Vincent´s Hospital in Dublin on December 11th 2009 with an abdominal pain, but was not considered to have a serious health issue despite suffering from multiple sclerosis.

However, during the following week, Margaret was prescribed inappropriate doses of sedatives whenever she became upset and agitated and, it was alleged in the family´s fatal overdose of medication claim, these doses of sedatives led to Margaret developing aspiration pneumonia.

It was also alleged in the family´s fatal overdose of medication claim that senior medical staff failed to act in an appropriate timeframe once Margaret´s condition had been diagnosed and a delay in transferring her to the intensive care unit caused Margaret to suffer a cardiac arrest from which she died.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that Margaret´s widower – William Duggan – and one her daughters had attempted to visit Margaret in hospital on December 19th, but when they arrived they found her bed had been curtained off. On asking a nurse the reason for this, William Duggan was told that Margaret had died.

William suffered from severe shock at the news, and his condition deteriorated when no explanation for his wife´s death was forthcoming but the hospital asked him for permission to conduct an immediate post-mortem. The post-mortem and subsequent internal investigation by St Joseph´s Hospital established that Margaret would not have died were it not for the negligent administration of the sedatives.

William and his three adult children made a claimed compensation for the fatal overdose of medication and Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that an offer of settlement amounting to €110,000 had been made to the family by the hospital and that they were willing to accept it. Approving the settlement of the fatal overdose of medication claim, the judge said “It must have been very traumatic to arrive in the hospital after her death. I hope as the years go by the loss lessens”.

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