A claim for a hospital death due to meningitis has been resolved in the High Court with the approval of a compensation settlement and an apology from the HSE.
Thirty-nine year old Philip Morrissey attended his GP on 26th May 2010 complaining of a headache, a high temperature and earache. The GP referred Philip to St Luke´s Hospital in Kilkenny, where he was admitted after being found to have a high pulse rate by doctors in the hospital´s A&E department.
Six hours after being admitted, Philip complained of light intolerance. His wife – Gail – also raised concerns that he was disorientated and drowsy, but she was told by medical staff that Philip´s condition was due to him being constipated.
The following morning – two days before his fortieth birthday – Philip was found slumped in his bed at 6:05am having suffered a cardiac arrest. The cause of the fatal heart attack was later identified as being due to streptococcal pneumonia meningitis.
Gail subsequently made a claim for a hospital death due to meningitis against the Health Service Executive (HSE), alleging that there had been a failure to consider that Philip´s symptoms were attributable to meningitis, to correctly diagnose his condition and provide adequate treatment.
After an investigation into Philip´s death revealed that he had not been attended by a doctor since 3:40pm the previous day, the HSE admitted liability and a €455,000 settlement of Gail´s claim for a hospital death due to meningitis was negotiated.
Due to the nature of Philip´s death, the settlement of the claim for a hospital death had to be approved. The approval hearing took place at the High Court in Dublin earlier this week before Mr Justice Michael Hanna at the High Court.
At the hearing, Judge Hanna heard the circumstances of Philip´s death and a statement read out to the family apologising for the standard of care Philip had received subsequent to his admission.
Judge Hanna approved the settlement of Gail´s claim for a hospital death due to meningitis – commenting that the family had experienced a “huge tragedy” and, while money could never compensate for Philip´s loss, it was the best the law could do.