A woman has been awarded €63,000 medical negligence compensation at the High Court in relation to the standard of her post-operative care at St James’s Hospital in Dublin following a procedure to remove of a heart pacemaker.
58-year-old Concepta Anderson, of Sooey, Co Sligo, took the legal action against the hospital after she experienced an episode of syncope (heart stoppage leading to a blackout) and fell when she was in a hospital toilet on May 18th, 2014.
The incident took place at a time when she was rehabilitating from a procedure to take out her permanent pacemaker and was waiting for her new pacemaker to be inserted. She suffered a head injury and has a permanent cut on her forehead.
Mr Justice Anthony Barr noted in his reserved judgment that, prior to having a pacemaker, Ms Anderson had a history of falls and syncope and was a fall risk following the removal of her pacemaker.
However, he ruled that there was negligence by her consultant cardiologist in not making sure that clear instructions were provided to nursing staff that Ms Anderson was a fall risk and therefore should be restricted to bed and only permitted to walk about with proper supervision.
Due to that failure, Ms Anderson was not told that she should remain bed and was allowed move freely within the range of her telemetry monitor. He said that this left hers in danger of serious injury.
The judge said the claimant was lucky that, when she did have the syncope episode, she was located in the toilet. He dismissed additional claims of negligence in relation to a decision not to insert a temporary wire following the removal of the pacemaker and before the insertion of the replacement device. Ms Anderson suffered a moderate head injury as a result of the fall, he said.
He said that he believed that Ms Anderson is embarrassed by her forehead wound which, while not ugly, was permanent. In considering all of these factor he assessed total medical negligence compensation of €63,112.