All Posts Tagged: hse wrongful death claim

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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HSE and SCA at Odds over Medical Negligence Court Cases in Ireland

The Director General of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the State Claims Agency have fallen out over medical negligence court cases in Ireland.

The disagreement over medical negligence court cases in Ireland blew up last week when Tony O´Brien – the Director General of the HSE – told the Oireachtas health committee that the State Claims Agency had an “unrealistic” view about risk and safety in healthcare and was too eager to defend medical negligence claims for compensation.

Saying that the adversarial framework used by the Agency delayed the payment of medical negligence compensation to plaintiffs who had suffered a loss, an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition deterioration, he asked “why all that trauma for people to get what they need.”

“These cases go on for up to 10 years and the State loses 99 per cent of them,” Mr O´Brien claimed, and he suggested the establishment of a fund that would support a different system of resolving claims for compensation that would not involve the parents of children that had suffered catastrophic birth injuries having to endure medical negligence court cases in Ireland.

While acknowledging that there had to be a level of accountability, Mr O´Brien also claimed that medical negligence court cases in Ireland were also damaging to the healthcare professionals called to give evidence in them. He said that, although the healthcare professionals were not facing criminal prosecution, they had to endure “show trials” when the outcome of the trials was 99 percent likely to be in the plaintiff´s favour.

In response to Mr O´Brien´s testimony to the Oireachtas health committee, the State Claims Agency issued a statement on Thursday evening contesting some of the Director General´s claims. The statement claims that 97 percent of cases are resolved without medical negligence court cases in Ireland and, in those in which liability is contested, the cases are resolved in the Agency´s favour 75 percent of the time.

Just two months ago the State Claims Agency published a review of maternity and gynaecology services in Ireland. In the review it was revealed that the total expenditure on cerebral palsy compensation claims had increased by 77 percent from 2010 to 2014. The large increase in compensation payments was partly attributed to more birth injury compensation claims being resolved with lump sum payments rather than interim compensation payments due to the failure of the Oireachtas to introduce a system of periodic payments.

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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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State Claims Agency Comments on Claims for Birth Injuries due to Syntocinon

The clinical risk advisor for the State Claims Agency has commented that a consistent set of national guidelines is needed to reduce the number of claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon.

In Ireland, Syntocinon is the brand name of oxytocin – a synthetic drug that is often used during childbirth to induce labour or accelerate contractions. Oxytocin has the effect of reducing the amount of time that mothers are in labour and helps the womb to contract after a birth by Caesarean Section.

However, there are risks associated with the birth-inducing drug and – when Syntocinon is administered – both mother and baby need careful monitoring to prevent any complications such as an adverse reaction or foetal distress. There are many circumstances in which it is dangerous to both mother and baby to administer Syntocinon.

Syntocinon is one of the top ten “high-alert medications” in maternity units, and the death of four babies at the Portlaoise Hospital has been attributed to the lack of adequate monitoring. All four babies died from foetal distress after their mothers were administered Syntocinon and, when children have survived after suffering foetal distress, they have frequently suffered brain damage.

Settlements of claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon can be considerable. Among a recent series of claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon, Jamie Patterson was awarded an interim settlement of €1.58 million in May last year, while Skye Worthington´s €2.32 million interim settlement was approved just last February.

The State Claims Agency – the authority that pays settlements of claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon – recently conducted a study into the use of oxytocin in Irish hospitals. The study revealed a lack of consistency in how Syntocinon is administered – a problem described by the Master of the Rotunda Hospital, Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, as putting unborn children at “unnecessary risk”.

The study found that staff at one maternity unit had no guidance on the use of Syntocinon and that staff at another hospital had to refer to a checklist. Two of the maternity units observed in the study provided no guidelines at all on the monitoring of mothers and babies, and one hospital failed to inform medical staff on the dosage of Syntocinon that should be administered to mothers.

Mary Godfrey – the State Claims Agency´s clinical risk advisor – said that the results of the study showed that a consistent set of guidelines was needed to improve outcomes for mothers and babies, and to prevent more claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon being made against the HSE.

Her comments were supported by Dr Coulter-Smith who, speaking on Newstalk´s Lunchtime Show, commented “The issue with each of the maternity units having their own rules on its use means doctors moving from one to another don’t have common set of guidelines to follow.”

However both medical experts failed to comment on one alarming fact uncovered by the study – that none of the maternity units attempts to obtain consent from the mothers before administering the drug. If the State Claims Agency is genuine about reducing the number of claims for birth injuries due to Syntocinon, they will also have to address the issue of “informed consent”.

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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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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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Coroner says Fatal Hospital Accident was due to No Risk Assessment

A Coroner has said that the death of a young woman in a hospital accident was due to no risk assessment being performed and could have been avoided with a better standard of care.

The death of Amy Hauserman in March 2008 was a tragic event. Amy had voluntarily entered the psychiatric ward of the Frankston Hospital in Melbourne after doctors had raised concerns about the return of a schizophrenic condition which led to hearing suffering from anorexia in her teens.

Amy had allowed to take a bath without supervision and drowned either due to a fall as she was trying to get out of the bath or because she lapsed into an unconscious state while taking it. The Coroner – Peter White – said in his report that, irrespective of how the hospital accident happened, Amy would not have died had a nurse been present.

Coroner White also highlighted in his report that no risk assessment had been conducted to see if Amy was capable of taking a bath on her own – indeed one nurse at the inquest gave evidence that she was unaware there was a protocol for patients taking baths.

The Coroner stated that the hospital accident due to no risk assessment may even have been avoided if one of the nursing staff had sought the advice of Amy´s consultant and commented that it was an “appropriate response to this tragic episode” when told that the hospital no longer offered baths to patients in its high dependency psychiatric ward.

Amy´s father spoke to the press after the hearing had concluded and confirmed that a compensation claim for a hospital accident due to no risk assessment was already underway, with a hearing into the case scheduled for May 2014.

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Family Settle Claim for Death due to a Wrong Diagnosis out of Court

A family from County Mayo have settled their compensation claim for death due to a wrong diagnosis against the Health Service Executive out of court.

The claim was made in relation to the death of Eileen Maloney – a 69-year-old mother of thirteen from Pullathomas in County Mayo – who had attended the Mayo General Hospital in February 2009 complaining of severe abdominal pains.

Eileen – who was suffering from cancer at the time – was admitted into hospital after an X-ray revealed a small obstacle in her small bowel. However, as it was a Sunday when Eileen was admitted, no doctor was available to review the x-ray for the possibility of a perforated bowel.

A CT scan taken during the following week clearly indicated that a tumour had developed in Eileen´s bowel but no review was conducted of the scan to identify whether Eileen was suffering from a perforated bowel and, despite her ongoing pain, surgery was scheduled for six days later.

Despite Eileen´s surgery being successful, she died from the effects of the misdiagnosis five days later – a tragedy which could have been avoided according to a member of the medical team, if Eileen´s condition had been correctly identified and promptly treated when she was first admitted into the hospital.

Following a formal investigation, Eileen´s family made a compensation claim for a death due to a wrong diagnosis to account for the mental anguish they had suffered. The Health Service Executive (HSE) denied that it was responsible for Eileen´s wrongful death, but the family pursued their claim and, shortly it was due to be heard in court, Mr Justice Michael Peart heard that a settlement had been agreed.

Under the terms if the settlement, the HSE will pay Eileen´s family €50,000 without admission of liability in return for them withdrawing the compensation claim for death due to a wrong diagnosis. After hearing that the family were satisfied with the agreement, Mr Justice Michael Peart approved the settlement.

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