The High Court will decide this week how much compensation for the mismanagement of cancer a plaintiff should receive after liability was admitted by the HSE.
In July 2010, Kevin McMahon – a 63 year-old truck driver from Roxboro in County Limerick – underwent a biopsy at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital due to the discovery of a lesion on the left side of his vocal chords.
As the lesion could have been an indicator of cell carcinoma, Kevin´s histopathologist scheduled him for a second biopsy in October. However, that appointment was later cancelled and re-scheduled for January 2001.
When Kevin attended the re-scheduled appointment, he was told he would have to undergo urgent surgery to remove his larynx. The operation went ahead, and now Kevin has to speak through an artificial voice box.
On discovering that the lesion on his vocal chords could have been successfully treated with targeted radiotherapy, Kevin claimed compensation for the mismanagement of cancer – alleging that the treatment he received was inappropriate and had caused significant damage and distress.
It was also alleged that there had been a failure to discuss the treatment options available and – as a consequence – Kevin had been unable to give his informed consent for the surgery taking place. A further complaint related to the delay in conducting the second biopsy.
The Health Service Executive contested the claim for compensation for the mismanagement of cancer until this past Tuesday, when – on the day before a court case was due to start to determine liability – the HSE acknowledged that the treatment Kevin had received was inappropriate in the circumstances.
A the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that liability was no longer an issue and the case was before him for the assessment of damages only. The judge will now hear evidence to determine how much compensation for the mismanagement of cancer Kevin should be awarded.