The settlement of a claim for the negligent administration of chemotherapy has been approved at the High Court in favour of a permanently brain damaged woman.
Pauline Carroll (65) from Mountmellick in County Laois attended the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore on 1st November 2010 for an update on her cancer. Pauline had previously undergone surgery to remove a tumour and had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment since August 2010.
Despite requesting that she see a doctor first, Pauline was immediately given another course of chemotherapy. When she was able to see a doctor, she was informed that the chemotherapy treatment should not have been administered because her white blood cell count was too low.
Two days after the negligent administration of chemotherapy, Pauline suffered a cardiac arrest at her home. She was taken to hospital, where she suffered a second cardiac arrest that led to her sustaining permanent brain damage. Pauline is now in a vegetative state and cared for at a nursing home.
After seeking legal advice, Pauline´s husband – Kevin – made a claim for the negligent administration of chemotherapy against the Midland Regional Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
In his legal action, Kevin alleged that the chemotherapy treatment should not have been administered before Pauline had seen the doctor, especially as it was known that Pauline had complained of cardiac pain three months earlier, and the chemotherapy drugs she had been administered were cardiotoxic.
The HSE denied negligence and claimed there was no connection between the administration of chemotherapy, Pauline´s cardiac arrest and subsequent permanent brain damage. However, after years of negotiations a settlement of the claim for the negligent administration of chemotherapy was agreed.
According to the terms of the settlement, the HSE will pay Pauline´s family €975,000 compensation and pay for Pauline´s care at the nursing home for the rest of her life. As the claim for the negligent administration of chemotherapy was made on behalf of a person unable to represent themselves, the settlement had to be approved by a judge.
Consequently the details of the claim for the negligent administration of chemotherapy were related to Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court. Approving the settlement, Judge Cross commented it was a “very good legal outcome for what has been an unfortunate and tragic outcome”.