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”.