Monday , December 9 2019

Woman Awarded Compensation for a Slip on a Wet Manhole Cover

A woman who injured her ankle in an accident at Dublin Zoo has been awarded €105,000 compensation for a slip on a wet manhole cover by the High Court.

Gwen Kane (43) from Firhouse in Dublin was visiting Dublin Zoo with her family on 12th June 2011 as a treat to celebrate her son´s first birthday. As Gwen passing the sea lion enclosure, she slipped on a wet manhole cover and fell – injuring her right ankle.

Gwen was taken to hospital, where she was diagnosed as having dislocated the ankle. The ankle was put into a plaster cast for seven weeks and Gwen had to use crutches for a further nine weeks to help support her injured ankle.

Despite regaining her mobility, Gwen continued to experience pain from her accident. She sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a slip on a wet manhole cover – alleging that the Zoological Society of Ireland had been negligent by failing to clear rainwater away from walkways and viewing areas in order to provide a safe environment for the zoo´s visitors.

The Zoological Society of Ireland admitted liability for Gwen´s injury, but rejected the Injuries Board assessment of her claim. Gwen was subsequently issued with an authorisation to pursue her case in court, and a hearing for the assessment of damages recently took place at the High Court.

At the hearing, Mr Justice Anthony Barr was told the circumstances of Gwen´s accident and the consequences to her quality of life. He heard that, as a consequence of her accident, Gwen had to give up her hobbies of Breton folk dancing, cycling and long-distance walking – activities that she participated in for charity.

Judge Barr said he was satisfied Gwen had given a fair and accurate account of the consequences of the accident, and awarded her €105,000 compensation for a slip on a wet manhole cover in respect of her pain and suffering, with a further award of €9,988 special damages to account for the financial cost of her injury.

Interim Settlement of Compensation for Birth Injuries due to Medical Negligence Approved in Court

An interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to medical negligence at the Midwestern Regional Maternity Hospital has been approved in court.

On 19 August 2013, Catriona Enright was admitted to the Midwestern Regional Maternity Hospital in Limerick, thirty-seven weeks into her pregnancy with son Charlie. After tests were conducted, the decision was made to induce labour and Catriona was administered Syntocinon.

Despite hyper-stimulation being a known side effect of Syntocinon, Catriona´s condition was not adequately monitored. A subsequent misinterpretation of the CTG tracing and a belated recognition of foetal distress led to Charlie being born “flat” the following day, unable to breathe independently.

Charlie was transferred to Cork University Hospital, where he was diagnosed as having suffered an intra-cranial haemorrhage and treated with therapeutic hypothermia (“head cooling”). However, due to the brain damage Charlie suffered prior to his birth, he is severely and permanently disabled.

On her son´s behalf, Catriona claimed compensation for birth injuries due to medical negligence against the Midwestern Regional Maternity Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE). Liability was admitted for Charlie´s birth injuries and an interim settlement of €1.75 million agreed while a report is prepared into Charlie´s future needs.

As the claim for compensation for birth injuries due to medical negligence was made on behalf of a child, the interim settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in Charlie´s best interests. Consequently, at the High Court, Mr Justice Anthony Barr was told the circumstances leading up to Charlie´s birth.

Judge Barr approved the interim settlement, saying it was a very good one that should take care of the boy´s needs for the next two years. After two years, the family will have to return to court for the approval of a subsequent interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to medical negligence or the approval of a lump sum payment, assuming that no system of periodic payments is introduced in the meantime.

Permanent Scar Compensation Claim Resolved at High Court

A permanent scar compensation claim has been resolved at the High Court with the approval of a €106,000 settlement in favour of a seventeen-year-old girl.

In August 2009, Shauna Burke from Corbally in County Limerick was on holiday with her family at Slattery´s Caravan Park in Lahinch, County Clare, when she lacerated her leg on a nail that was allegedly protruding from a box attached to a pole. Shauna – who was ten years old at the time – received medical treatment for her injury, but – now seventeen years of age – has a permanent visible scar above her knee.

On Shauna´s behalf, John Burke – her father – made a permanent scar compensation claim against the owner of the caravan park – Austin Francis Slattery. Slattery denied that he was liable for Shauna´s injury and the resulting scar, but agreed to a €106,000 settlement of the permanent scar compensation claim – made up of €90,000 for Shauna´s pain and suffering and €16,000 for her future medical care.

As the permanent scar compensation claim had been made on behalf of a child, the offer of settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in Shauna´s best interests. Consequently at the High Court, Mr Justice Anthony Barr heard allegations that the nail on which Shauna cut her leg was a hazard that should have been removed due to it being located in an area often frequented by guests at the caravan park.

After inspecting the scar, Judge Barr said that the proposed settlement of the permanent scar compensation claim was a good one and that he was happy to approve it. Because Shauna is still a legal minor, the judge ordered that the settlement should be paid into court funds, where it will remain in an interest yielding account until Shauna´s eighteenth birthday.

Settlement of Claim for the Negligent Administration of Chemotherapy Approved

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”.

Man Ordered to Pay Compensation for Defamatory Comments Posted on Facebook

A County Monaghan man has been ordered to pay €75,000 compensation for defamatory comments posted on Facebook about the National Director of the NARGC.

Monaghan Circuit Criminal Court heard that on or around December 22, 2015, John Gilsenan from Castleblayney in County Monaghan posted defamatory comments on Facebook relating to the way in which the National Director of the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) had managed the Association´s finances.

The defamatory comments alleged that Desmond Crofton – from Stonestown in County Offaly – had made decisions regarding the organisation´s finances that had caused the NARGC “to go broke”. After other members of the Association had been alerted to the comments, a confrontation ensued, and Crofton was suspended from his position as National Director on full pay.

Crofton took legal advice and claimed compensation for defamatory comments posted on Facebook against Gilsenan. At the Monaghan Circuit Criminal Court, Judge John O´Hagan was told that Gilsenan had initially contested the claim, but had since abandoned the matter and – as the claim was now uncontested – the case was before the judge for the assessment of damages only.

After hearing the facts of the case, Judge O´Hagan ordered that Gilsenan should pay Crofton €75,000 compensation for defamatory comments posted on Facebook. The judge commented that he was awarding Crofton the maximum amount possible in order to “teach people posting messages on the social media site to be very careful”.

UN: Ireland´s Ban on Abortions for Fatal Foetal Abnormalities “Inhuman and Degrading”

Ireland´s ban on abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities has been described as “inhuman and degrading” by the United Nations´ Human Rights Committee.

According to Article 40.3.3º of the Constitution and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, the right to life of an unborn foetus is protected unless the mother´s health is at risk. The ban on abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities means that mothers carrying unborn children with no hope of survival after birth have to leave Ireland to have a termination.

One such mother was Amanda Mellet. Amanda was given the devastating news in November 2011 that her unborn child would die in the womb or shortly after birth due to a fatal foetal anomaly. Amanda travelled alone to the UK to have a termination and – due to limited funds – had to return to Ireland just twelve hours after undergoing the procedure.

Unlike cases in which women suffer miscarriages, Amanda did not receive any post-operative medical care in Ireland or bereavement counselling – a situation that was aggravated when the ashes of her unborn child were delivered to her by courier three weeks later. Amanda also felt stigmatised by having circumnavigated Ireland´s ban on abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities.

Amanda co-founded the organization “Termination for Medical Reasons” in order to campaign for a change to the ban on abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities. She also contacted the European branch of the Centre for Reproductive Rights – who filed a complaint on Amanda´s behalf with the United Nations´ Human Rights Committee.

Earlier this week, the Committee upheld the complaint and described Ireland´s ban on abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities as “inhuman and degrading”. The Committee said that the ban discriminated against Amanda and jeopardised her well-being by subjecting her to unnecessary financial and emotional suffering.

The Human Rights Committee reported: “The State party should amend its law on voluntary termination of pregnancy, including if necessary its Constitution, to ensure compliance with the Covenant, including effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland, and take measures to ensure that healthcare providers are in a position to supply full information on safe abortion services without fearing being subjected to criminal sanctions.”

In addition to telling the Government to reverse the ban on abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities, the Committee said that the state should compensate Amanda for failing to take her medical needs and socio-economic circumstances into account. The Committee commented that many of the negative events Amanda had experienced could have been avoided if she had had been allowed to terminate the pregnancy “in the familiar environment of her own country and under the care of health professionals whom she knew and trusted.”

Injury Claim for a Car Crash in Antrim Resolved at High Court

A passenger´s injury claim for a car crash in Antrim has been resolved following a hearing at the High Court in Belfast and an award of £464,655 compensation.

In July 2012, 29-year-old Rosie Sands was a passenger in a friend´s car travelling along the A57 near Doagh in County Antrim, when the car was involved in a head-on collision with an oncoming jeep and trailer driven by Stephen Hamilton.

Rosie´s friend – 21-year-old Michelle Hulford – was tragically killed in the accident, and the driver of the car and two further passengers were also injured. Rosie from Exmouth in Devon was taken to hospital with injuries to her back, abdomen and shoulder.

Rosie returned to Exmouth on her release from hospital, but suffered from flashbacks and nightmares that prevented her from completing her honours degree at Bath Spa University and competing in the British Sailing Championships.

She was subsequently diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and, after seeking legal advice, Rosie made an injury claim for the car crash in Antrim – seeking compensation for her personal injuries, her loss of earnings and the cost of her care and treatment.

The driver of the jeep admitted liability for causing the accident, and the injury claim for a car crash in Antrim proceeded to the High Court in Belfast for the assessment of damages, where it was heard by Mr Justice Adrian Colton.

At the hearing, Judge Colton heard how Rosie´s life had changed “irrevocably” due to the accident. Formerly a Gold Standard sailor, Rosie´s injuries now prevent her from competing competitively. She has also had to abandon a planned career in the RAF or Navy.

Judge Colton said that the evidence Rosie had given in support of her injury claim for a car crash in Antrim had been “honest, understated, stoical and admirable”. He awarded Rosie £464,655 and wished her well for the future.

Final Payment of Delayed Delivery Cerebral Palsy Compensation Approved in Court

A final payment of delayed delivery cerebral palsy compensation has been approved in the High Court in favour of sixteen year old girl described as “heroic”.

Sixteen-year-old student Mary Malee was born on 11th October 1999 by emergency Caesarean section at Mayo General Hospital after an alleged delay in locating a paediatrician. Due to the alleged delay and a miscommunication when the paediatrician arrived, Mary´s delivery was delayed by eighty minutes – during which time her brain was starved of oxygen and she suffered cerebral palsy.

On Mary´s behalf, her mother – Maura Malee from Swinford, County Mayo – claimed delayed delivery cerebral palsy compensation from the Health Service Executive, alleging that there had been a failure to ensure the presence of a paediatrician when it was known that Mary was in distress in the womb, and that the hospital´s medical negligence led to the failure to conduct Mary´s birth in a timely manner.

An interim settlement of delayed delivery cerebral palsy compensation was approved in March 2014 and Mary´s case was adjourned for two years in anticipation of laws allowing for the introduction of phased payments of compensation for catastrophically injured claimants. As structured settlements are still not available, Mary and her parents returned to the High Court last week to have a €5.56 million final payment of delayed delivery cerebral palsy compensation approved.

At the hearing, Mary explained to Mr Justice Peter Kelly that “the stress of ongoing engagement with the HSE and the courts is not what I want”. The judge also heard that Mary has ambitions to become an advocate for people with disabilities, and describing Mary´s achievements to date as “heroic”, Judge Kelly approved the final payment of delayed delivery cerebral palsy compensation.

Also at the hearing an apology from the Mayo General Hospital was read to Mary, expressing the hospital´s deep regret for “the many challenges that you have faced as a result of the treatment provided to your mother Maura at the time of your birth”. Mary subsequently gave a statement to the press in which she said: “Cerebral palsy won’t kill me but I have to learn to live with it … it’s for life. This shouldn’t have happened to me and others like me. Justice has been done and I’m bringing closure to this, we can move on with our lives”.

Pony Ride Injury Compensation Claim Settled during Hearing

A pony ride injury compensation claim, made by a woman left with a permanent scar after her accident, has been settled during a hearing to establish liability.

Maria Gray (35) – a dentist from Belfast – was among a group of friends having a hen weekend in Galway when she went on a pony trek at Feeney’s Riding School in Thonabrocky on 15th July 2013. The trek started without incident but, as the party slowly descended a steep incline, the legs of Maria´s pony buckled and Maria fell from the saddle.

Maria sustained a deep cut on her chin and a wrist injury. She was taken to hospital, where the cut was cleaned and stitched, but she now has a permanent scar that is visible to her patients. Maria´s wrist injury deteriorated and she had to undergo eight weeks of physiotherapy – during which time she was unable to work because of a splint on her arm.

After seeking legal advice, Maria made a pony ride injury compensation claim against the owners of the riding school – Gerard and Siobhan Feeney. In her legal action, Maria alleged that pony was too small for her 5 foot 8½ inches frame and was only suitable for a child under the age of fourteen. She also claimed that the school had not given her adequate instruction on how to ride the pony.

The Feeney´s denied that the pony was too small for Maria, and argued that she had been offered a larger pony to ride, but had declined the opportunity. Without the riding school owner´s consent to carry out an assessment, the Injuries Board issued Maria with an authorisation to pursue her pony ride injury compensation claim through the courts.

The hearing to determine liability opened before Mr Justice Raymond Fullam at the High Court last week. Maria told the judge it was her belief that the pony had already been out on a trek earlier on that very hot day. Consequently it was hungry and tired, and kept stopping to eat grass. She added that the pony was only suitable for a child under fourteen years of age because of its age.

Before the second day of the hearing could get underway, the judge was told that the parties had come to an agreement and the pony ride injury compensation claim could be struck.

Claim for Brain Damage due to Negligent Surgery Heard in Court

The details of a claim for brain damage due to negligence surgery have been heard in the High Court prior to the approval of an interim settlement.

Jude Miley was born on 16th July 2011. In January 2012 Jude was diagnosed with a condition affecting the contour of his diaphragm and he underwent surgery at Our Lady´s Hospital for Sick Children to assist his breathing.

Unfortunately, a suture used in the operation was left untied and, due to its proximity to Jude´s heart, damaged the organ every time Jude took a breath. Two days after the operation, Jude went into cardiac arrest – suffering brain damage when his brain was starved of oxygen.

On his son´s behalf, Greville Miley – from Dundrum in Dublin – made a claim for brain damage due to negligent surgery against the hospital; alleging that the suture had been placed without the surgeon having sight of the heart and other vital organs.

Our Lady´s Hospital for Sick Children only admitted liability for Jude´s injury last year – originally contesting the claim for brain damage due to negligent surgery on the grounds that the risk of cardiac arrest was a known risk of the surgery, and nothing could be done about it.

As Mr Justice Anthony Barr heard at the High Court earlier this week, Jude´s parents were also excluded from the hospital´s internal investigation after being asked to be kept informed of any developments. Both Greville and Anne Louise subsequently had to give up their jobs to care for their son.

However, once the hospital had admitted liability, an interim settlement of the claim for brain damage due to negligent heart surgery amounting to €1.8 million was agreed. This interim settlement will allow the family to buy a suitable home to raise Jude and compensate Greville and Anne Louise for their loss of income.

Judge Barr approved the interim settlement of compensation and adjourned the case for an assessment of Jude´s future needs to be made.

HSE Settles Claim for Undiagnosed Bleeding on the Brain

The Health Service Executive has admitted partial liability in a claim for undiagnosed bleeding on the brain and settled the claim for €2.7 million.

On 26th June 2006, Paula Dundon (42) attended the Naas General Hospital complaining of a sudden and severe onset of headaches accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Paula was treated with painkillers and underwent a CT scan on her brain.

The CT scan allegedly failed to determine the cause of her headaches but, as her condition did not improve, Paula – from Brownstown in County Kildare – underwent a second CT scan three days later that revealed a large intra cerebral bleed on the left side of her brain.

Paula was transferred to the Beaumont Hospital, where a further investigation determined that she had suffered an intra cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage. Due to the length of time between attending Naas General Hospital and being transferred to the Beaumont Hospital, the bleeding on Paula´s brain caused her to suffer brain damage, and the former hairdresser now requires 24-hour care.

On his wife´s behalf, Michael Dundon made a claim for undiagnosed bleeding on the brain. In his legal action against the Health Service Executive (HSE), Michael alleged that there had been a failure to adequately assess Paula´s condition when she attended the hospital in Naas and the failure to carry out a prompt diagnosis that would have accelerated Paula´s transfer to the Beaumont Hospital.

The HSE contested the element of the claim for undiagnosed bleeding on the brain that related to the failure to assess, but agreed that Paula´s brain injury should have been identified sooner – facilitating her transfer to the Beaumont Hospital where she could have received appropriate treatment and her brain damage would not have been so severe.

A settlement of the claim for undiagnosed bleeding on the brain was agreed for €2.7 million. However, as the claim had been made on behalf of a plaintiff who was unable to represent herself, the settlement had to be approved by a judge. The approval hearing took place earlier this week before Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

Approving the settlement, Judge Cross said Michael and his two children should be congratulated for the care they had given to Paula since her injury. He wished the family all the best for the future.

Interim Settlement of Claim for the Failure to Diagnose Sepsis Approved in Court

A €550,000 interim settlement of a claim for the failure to diagnose sepsis has been approved in the High Court in favour of a man permanently in a coma.

On 3rd October 2011, Robert Bolton (71) underwent surgery on his oesophagus at the St James Hospital in Dublin. The surgery was considered to be successful but, the following morning, James suffered a heart attack due to respiratory failure brought on by sepsis.

Due to a combination of the heart attack and respiratory failure, Robert went into a coma and has been in a minimally conscious state ever since. Unable to speak or communicate – and oblivious to the presence of his family – Robert requires around-the-clock specialised care.

On her husband´s behalf, Robert´s wife – Angela – made a claim for the failure to diagnose sepsis against St James Hospital, alleging that the hospital had not met the generally accepted criteria for systemic inflammatory response and sepsis. It was also alleged that the hospital had failed to identify the symptoms of sepsis-related organ failure.

The hospital contested the claim for the failure to diagnose sepsis, but admitted that there had been failings in the standard of care provided to Robert. A €550,000 interim settlement of compensation was agreed to provide Robert´s care for the next two years. However, as the claim for the failure to diagnose sepsis had been made on behalf of a plaintiff unable to represent themselves, the settlement had to be approved by a judge.

Consequently, at the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the circumstances of Robert´s heart attack, its probable cause, and the consequences of his condition to his wife and family. Judge Cross approved the interim settlement after Angela told him that the family was happy that Robert´s care would be provided for. The judge commented that the settlement of the claim for the failure to diagnose sepsis had been well thought out and was obviously the result of hard bargaining.

AIB Announces Compensation for Tracker Mortgage Customers

AIB has announced it has set aside €105 million to pay compensation for tracker mortgage customers wrongfully put on variable interest rate accounts.

After years of denying that it was liable to pay compensation for tracker mortgage customers, AIB has made a €105 million provision in its 2014 Annual Report to pay redress to more than 3,000 mortgage holders. A further €85 million has been set aside for “other related matters” as part of a tracker mortgage review.

Three hundred AIB staff have already started the task of identifying which customers will be eligible for compensation. The bank has said that these customers will be given the option of converting their existing variable interest rate accounts to those tracking the interest rates set by the European Central Bank – potentially saving each household up to €12,500 per year.

The announcement of compensation for tracker mortgages comes as a major surprise. Just weeks ago AIB denied it had wrongly refused to restore tracker mortgages to property owners after their initial fixed rate mortgage term had expired. The bank removed tracker mortgages as an option in 2008 and converted many customers onto variable interest rate accounts which, at the time, were the most expensive in the Eurozone.

Last October the Central Bank launched an industry-wide review of the wrongful removal of valuable tracker mortgages after pressure from consumer groups and following an announcement from Permanent TSB that it was to pay compensation for tracker mortgage customers. The Permanent TSB paid compensation or reduced mortgage arrears in 1,372 cases.

According to the figures released by AIB, the average amount of compensation for tracker mortgage customers should be in the region of €65,000. However, as the calculations of compensation for tracker mortgage customers are being made by AIB, customers are advised to seek professional legal advice to ensure they receive appropriate redress.

Talk with our specialist tracker mortgage redress team on 1-800 844 303 for advice on how you can properly engage with AIB and receive your correct settlement of compensation for tracker mortgage customers.

Claim for the Late Diagnosis of Hydrocephalus Settled in Court

A child´s claim for the late diagnosis of hydrocephalus, which allegedly resulted in him suffering from autism, has been settled at the High Court.

Joe Keegan-Grant was born at the Mount Carmel Hospital in Dublin by emergency C-Section on 17th January 2008 after a scan had revealed an arachnoid cyst near the base of his brain and doctors wanted to avoid any pressure being applied to the cyst during Joe´s delivery.

Discharged in good health, Joe was regularly assessed by public health nurses and paediatrician Dr Vladka Vilimkova; but according to Joe´s mother – Patricia – neither plotted Joe´s head circumference on a chart or exchanged the measurements they had taken.

Due to the failure to exchange information, it was not realised that Joe´s head circumference was expanding faster than a normal child´s. It was only when the family moved to Creggs in County Roscommon that Patricia´s new GP expressed concerns about the size of Joe´s head.

Patricia requested a referral to the Crumlin Hospital for a scan and, in October 2008, Joe was diagnosed with hydrocephalus – a condition that is a known possible consequence of an arachnoid cyst. The condition was attributed to Joe´s developmental delay, behavioural problems and autism.

Through his mother, Joe made a claim for the late diagnosis of hydrocephalus, alleging that – as it was a known possible consequence of an arachnoid cyst – both the public health nurses and Dr Vilimkova should have been on the lookout for the condition.

Medical negligence was denied by the Health Service Executive (HSE), but as Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told at the High Court, a €1.9 million offer of settlement had been made to the family without an admission of liability.

Judge Cross heard that, despite his autism, Joe was doing well at school. However, he would not be able to care for himself when he grew older, live an independent life or earn a living. Joe´s father told the judge: “we just want to ensure that we can look after him and offer him the best care and therapy and interventions that can bring him along.”

It was also explained to the court that although Joe´s legal team had evidence to support the claim for the late diagnosis of hydrocephalus, the HSE had experts that would dispute the link between undiagnosed hydrocephalus, developmental delay and autism. With there being an issue of doubt over causation, Joe´s barrister had recommended that the family accept the offer of compensation.

The judge said it would be prudent for him to approve the settlement of Joe´s claim for the late diagnosis of hydrocephalus; noting that there was a risk that, should the case go to a full hearing, the HSE could win its argument. Judge Cross approved the €1.9 million compensation settlement and wished Joe and his parents all the best for the future.

Compensation for the Delayed Delivery of a Child Approved

An interim settlement of compensation for the delayed delivery of a child, who consequently sustained brain damage, has been approved in the High Court.

Mohammad Daud Assad (now aged eleven years) was born at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin on February 20th 2004 by emergency Caesarean Section after becoming distressed in his mother´s womb. Mohammad was born in a poor condition and needed resuscitating after the delivery.

Due to being deprived of oxygen immediately before his birth, Mohammad suffered severe brain damage. He now suffers from cerebral palsy and has both mental and physical disabilities. Unable to speak, Mohammad will need full-time care and support for the rest of his life.

Through his mother – Alia Muryem Assad of Ballyfermot in Dublin – Mohammed claimed compensation for the late delivery of a child against the Rotunda Hospital. It was alleged that his mother arrived at the hospital at 9:00am on the morning of his birth – ten days overdue – but that he not delivered until 10:30pm.

In excessively delaying Mohammad´s birth, it was claimed, there was a failure to properly assess his mother and consider a failing of the placental function – particularly after a reduction of the foetal heart rate was recorded several hours before his birth.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard that Mohammad attends mainstream school and enjoys music. He was also told that the Rotunda Hospital had only acknowledged liability for Mohammad´s birth injuries within the last two weeks, and that an interim settlement of €3 million compensation for the delayed delivery of a child had been agreed.

The judge approved the interim settlement of compensation for the delayed delivery of a child and commented that the way in which the family had rallied round to help Mohammad´s parents “restored one´s faith in humanity”. The case was then adjourned until 2022, when Mohammad´s future needs will be assessed and a full settlement of his claim resolved.

Court to Decide Compensation for the Mismanagement of Cancer

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.

Compensation for a Brain Injury in a Crash with a Lorry

The High Court has approved a €750,000 settlement of compensation for a brain injury in a crash with a lorry in favour of a twenty-five year old man.

Francis Smith from Edgeworthstown in County Longford was just eighteen years of age when – on 27th January 2009 – he crashed into a stationary council lorry while trying to avoid hitting a car that was heading towards him as he came off of a bend on the southbound carriageway of the road. The stationary lorry had stopped close to where Longford County Council was carrying out roadworks.

Francis sustained a traumatic brain injury in the accident, due to which he suffers from physical and cognitive difficulties and has had to give up his job in a local factory. As he is unable to represent himself legally, Francis´ mother claimed compensation for a brain injury in a crash with a lorry against Longford County Council on his behalf.

In her claim for compensation for a brain injury in a crash with a lorry, Francis´ mother alleged that the council had been negligent by failing to warn motorists of the roadworks on the southbound carriageway. She claimed that there were no warning signs, no bollards around the roadworks and that the council´s lorry projected into the road – creating a further hazard for motorists.

Longford County Council initially refused to accept responsibility for Francis´ injury and argued that Francis had been negligent by taking the bend at an excessive speed. However, after a period of negotiation, the two parties agreed on a €750,000 settlement of compensation for a brain injury in a crash with a lorry.

As the injury compensation claim had been made on behalf of a plaintiff unable to represent himself, the settlement went to the High Court to be approved by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Judge Cross heard the circumstances of the accident and the impact it had on Francis´ life before approving the settlement of compensation for a brain injury in a crash with a lorry.

The judge noted that the €750,000 settlement represented a quarter of the claim´s full value and said that, in the circumstances, the settlement was a good one. Judge Cross closed the approval hearing by wishing Francis all the best for the future.

Claim for a Retained Swab during Childbirth Resolved

A claim for a retained swab during childbirth has been resolved at the High Court with the award of €117,000 compensation to the injured mother.

On 22nd April 2013, Sarah Daly (38) from Rathfarnham in Dublin gave birth to a healthy child at the Mount Carmel Hospital. Three days later, Sarah was taken back to the hospital by her husband in extreme pain.

No internal examination was conducted for a further three days, when a swab “the size of a plum” was discovered and removed. However, as the swab was removed without any antibiotics being prescribed, Sarah developed a significant infection which caused her further pain and discomfort.

Sarah made a claim for a retained swab during childbirth against consultant Valerie Donnelly and Charles Julian Dockeray – who had managed the delivery and was standing in for Ms Donnelly – alleging that the swab was wrongfully inserted, that the presence of the swab was not identified for three days after she presented at hospital, and that she was discharged without antibiotics, resulting in an infection.

Liability was admitted by the medical professionals and the claim for a retained swab during childbirth went to the High Court for the assessment of damages. At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said what ought to have been a very joyous occasion for Sarah had become something that will live with her for the rest of her life.

The judge awarded Sarah €117,000 in settlement of her claim, commenting that the award was “fair and reasonable”. The judge added that the size of the award represented the hospital´s negligence in failing to conduct an internal examination when Sarah first complained three days after the birth of her child. Had the swab been detected immediately, Sarah would not have developed the subsequent infection.

Note: Normally a claim for a retained swab during childbirth would not warrant this level of compensation. As Mr Justice Kevin Cross noted, Sarah sustained a series of avoidable injuries and the amount of the compensation awarded to Sarah reflects the injuries she sustained, rather than the level of negligence demonstrated by the hospital´s medical professionals.

Judge Approves Settlement of 22 Claims for Abuse at a Creche

A High Court judge has approved the settlement of twenty-two claims for abuse at a crèche relating to alleged assaults at the Links Abington Crèche in Dublin.

The Links Abington Crèche in Malahide, Dublin, was the subject of an RTÉ documentary in March 2013. The documentary – “Breach of Trust” – saw pre-school children being physically and verbally abused by staff at the childcare facility.

Following broadcast of the documentary, the parents of twenty-two of the children made claims for abuse at a crèche against Links crèche Southside Ltd, Links crèche Montessori Ltd, and the owners of the crèche – Padraig and Deidre Kelly.

The defendants entered a full defence against the claims for abuse at a crèche but, at the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard that offers of settlement had been made to the parents of the children without an admission of liability.

The settlements were divided into three categories for children who had been physically or verbally abused during the broadcast of the documentary, for children who had been sitting alongside those who had been abused, and for children who were present at the time of the alleged abuse, but not shown in the broadcast.

The judge was told details of some of the treatment that the children received. One boy with mobility issues had been grabbed roughly and placed forcibly onto a mat when he tried to crawl away during “circle time”. Other cases involved children who were shouted at during mealtimes, and one involving a child who had a hand slapped and was sworn at for handling food.

It was alleged in the claims for abuse at a crèche that many of the children exhibited a high level of stress around nappy changing time and had developed “behavioural difficulties” that had stopped once the children were removed from the crèche. However, none of the children appear to have suffered any long-term consequences of the alleged mistreatment.

After hearing that a separate claim made by the parents for nervous shock had been settled out-of-court, Judge Cross approved the settlements of the claims for abuse at a crèche, which ranged from €40,000 to €75,000 depending on the category of alleged abuse each child had suffered.

Leading Barrister Calls for Legal Duty of Candour in Ireland

Leading barrister Doireann O’Mahony has called for a legal duty of candour in Ireland to prevent unnecessary delays resolving medical negligence claims.

Writing in the Irish Examiner, Ms O´Mahony claims that the practice of keeping quiet when mistakes have been made has become a culture within the Health Service, and that this culture has resulted in the failure of the Health Service to admit when it was wrong and learn from its mistakes.

According to Ms O´Mahony, the culture has developed despite a national policy on open disclosure being launched by the Health Service Executive and State Claims Agency two years ago. Unfortunately, the barrister alleges, the policy is not working and what is needed is a legal duty of candour in Ireland.

Ms O´Mahony continues by explaining that a legal candour of duty was introduced in England and Wales last year which makes it a criminal offence not to advise a patient when – for example – a procedure has gone wrong or a medication has caused an adverse effect.

She also repeats comments made by health minister Leo Varadkar last year that it was the equivalent of a motoring hit and run for doctors and healthcare professionals to fail to make such disclosures and to live up to their duty of candour.

With a legal duty of candour in Ireland – and proper risk management thereafter – Ms O´Mahony suggests that lessons would be learned when mistakes are made so that they will not be repeated over and over again. She highlights recent scandals in Portlaoise, in Cavan and in Portiuncula as examples of when lessons should have been learned, but weren´t.

The barrister explains that, in many cases, the motive behind a claim for medical negligence compensation in Ireland is for patients and their families to get an explanation of what went wrong. Only when long-term care for a child has to be paid for is the amount of any compensation settlement of significance.

A legal duty of candour in Ireland, Ms O´Mahony claims, would prevent the need for victims of medical negligence and their families to endure protracted and often hostile litigation just to receive an apology they are entitled to. When mistakes are admitted and properly assessed afterwards, patients would not need assurances that “lessons have been learned” and “changes have been made” so that what happened to them will not happen to anybody else.

Litigation can be a force for good and provide the impetus for improvement – Ms O´Mahony claims in the conclusion of her article – provided there is a proper risk management feedback loop. She hopes that, through the introduction of long-overdue procedural reform in medical negligence cases and a legal duty of candour in Ireland, a culture of more openness and honesty will develop.

Woman Settles Claim for DVT due to Medical Negligence

A woman has settled her claim for DVT due to medical negligence, made against the hospital at which she underwent a hysterectomy procedure.

Forty-four year old Tina Grace from Kirkby in Nottinghamshire underwent the hysterectomy procedure at the Kings Mill Hospital on 13th August 2012. Tina was discharged on 18th August despite her parents raising concerns with the hospital authorities that she was not well enough to care for her two children aged 2 and 13 at the time.

Three weeks after her hysterectomy, Tina complained of feeling breathless and of a burning sensation in her leg. Her parents called an ambulance, which took Tina back to the Kings Mill Hospital. Tina was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and, worryingly, the blood clot in her leg had broken up and travelled up to her lungs – resulting in a pulmonary embolism.

Tina remained in hospital for eleven days receiving treatment for the pulmonary embolism. After she was discharged, she had to take Warfarin for a further six months. Tina sought advice from a solicitor about the treatment she had received and made a claim for DVT due to medical negligence – alleging that the hospital should have provided with surgical stockings and anti-clotting medication on 18th August discharge.

Liability for Tina´s injuries was acknowledged by Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in November 2012. The NHS Trust said that, on the balance of probabilities, Tina´s pulmonary embolism would likely have been avoided if surgical stockings and anti-clotting medication had been provided following her hysterectomy procedure.

After protracted discussions, an undisclosed settlement of the claim for DVT due to medical negligence was negotiated with the NHS Trust. Speaking after the settlement had been agreed, Tina told her local newspaper she was afraid that her children would be left motherless due to the hospital´s medical negligence. “I really felt like I could have died. I was terrified and it felt like every breath I took would be my last,” she said.

NHS Admits Liability in Claim for Negligent Post-Operation Care

Negotiations are underway to settle a claim for negligent post-operation care after a teenage girl was brain damaged following an appendectomy procedure.

In September 2011, fifteen-year-old Anna White from Wigan was admitted to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary for a routine appendectomy procedure. The operation was performed successfully but, while Anna was recovering, she started convulsing.

Anna´s mother called a nurse for assistance, but Anna suffered a cardiac arrest while waiting for medical help to arrive. Due to the delay in resuscitating her, Anna´s brain was deprived of oxygen – due to which she suffered brain damage and now has catastrophic disabilities.

Now aged nineteen, Anna´s intellectual ability is unimpaired, but she is unable to get out of bed or move from her wheelchair without specialist equipment. Anna cannot feed herself or wash without help and is only able to communicate by looking at letters on a board to spell out words. Doctors say Anna will remain “locked in” her body for the remainder of her life.

The care that was provided for Anna after her surgery was investigated and it was discovered that the tube used to deliver anaesthetic to Anna during the appendectomy procedure was not flushed out properly after it had been used. A small dose of the anaesthetic remained inside it and, when fluids were administered to Anna through the same tube during her recovery, the remaining anaesthetic was delivered into her body, causing her to go into cardiac arrest.

Anna´s mother sought legal advice and made a claim for negligent post-operation care against the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust. After a lengthy delay, the NHS Trust admitted liability, and negotiations to settle the claim for negligent post-operation care have started to provide Anna with the funds to support the specialist care she will need for the rest of her life.

A spokesperson for the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Trust has admitted that the care it provided to Anna White fell below an acceptable standard, and has apologised unreservedly to Ms White for this. The Trust has implemented a number of changes to eliminate the possibility of this type of failing occurring in the future”.

O´Brien Criticises State for Forcing Medical Negligence Litigation

The Director General of the Health Service Executive – Tony O´Brien – has criticised the State Claims Agency for forcing medical negligence litigation.

The head of the HSE was addressing the Oireachtas health committee when he commented that the State Claims Agency contests too many claims for medical negligence compensation and forces plaintiffs to take their claims to court.

Mr O´Brien criticised the adversarial framework used by the Agency, and said that medical negligence litigation delayed compensation to families to whom it was rightfully due for up to a decade. “These cases go on for up to 10 years and the State loses 99 per cent of them,” he said, “so why all that trauma for people to get what they need.”

The Director General added that medical negligence litigation was also damaging to the healthcare professionals involved in each hearing. He said that, although the healthcare professionals were not on trial, they faced cameras at the entrance to “show trials” when the outcome of the hearings was likely to be in the plaintiff´s favour.

Mr O´Brien is keen to promote accountability and said that the State Claims Agency had an “unrealistic” view about risk and safety in healthcare. His solution to excessive medical negligence litigation, Mr O´Brien told the Oireachtas health committee, would be the creation of a compensation fund to support a different system of resolving cases involving cerebral palsy and other avoidable birth injuries.

In response to Mr O´Brien´s criticisms, the State Claims Agency issued a statement saying that 97 percent of cases are resolved without medical negligence litigation; and, in cases where liability is contested, courts find in the Agency´s favour 75 percent of the time.

In October the State Claims Agency published a review of maternity and gynaecology services in Ireland in which it was revealed that total expenditure on cerebral palsy compensation claims had increased from €27 million in 2010 to €47 million in 2014. The increase was partly attributed to more cerebral palsy compensation claims being resolved with a lump sum payment than an interim payment due to the failure to introduce a system of periodic payment orders.

NHS Trust Fined £500,000 for Avoidable Deaths in Hospital

Stafford Crown Court has fined the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust for health and safety failings that resulted in four avoidable deaths in hospital.

Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into four fatalities at the Stafford Hospital – three of them following a patient fall in the hospital, and the fourth attributable to a patient being administered drugs she was known to be allergic to – charges were brought against the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust last year.

At Stafford Magistrates´ Court in November, the NHS Trust pleaded guilty to “very significant failings” in the care provided for the four patients and magistrates referred the case to Stafford Crown Court for sentencing. At the sentencing hearing, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave was told that three of the charges related to the lack of a proper risk assessment that would have identified measures to prevent falls.

The judge – who, in 2007, fined the NHS Trust £200,000 for health and safety failings related to the death of Gillian Astbury – was read extracts from relatives´ victim statements. Judge Haddon-Cove said that the failings responsible for the avoidable deaths in hospital could be blamed on the lack of a robust management system for safeguarding patients.

Sentencing the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust to a £500,000 fine, the judge said: “I hope today brings some closure and finally draws a line under the past, and that Stafford and Cannock Hospitals can open a new and bright chapter and become the hospitals that their dedicated staff and local communities can once again be proud of.”

The fine for the avoidable deaths in hospital will have to be paid by the Secretary of State for Health as the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has been closed own following an unprecedented number of deaths in the hospitals it was responsible for. The Secretary of State for Health will also have to pay the £35,517 costs incurred by the Health and Safety Executive during the investigation of the fatalities.

Speaking to reporters after the sentencing hearing´s conclusion, Wayne Owen – one of the inspectors involved in the Health and Safety Executive´s investigation – issued a statement on behalf of the victims´ families. Mr Owen said: “The families acknowledge the NHS Trust´s unreserved apology. The conclusion of this case goes some way towards bringing the closure that they all need”.

Claim for a Fatal Delay in Identifying Surgical Complications

A family from West Yorkshire is to receive a six-figure out-of-court settlement following a claim for a fatal delay in identifying surgical complications.

On 28th April 2009, thirty-eight year old Tracy Hall was admitted to the Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield for the reversal of a stoma. The elective surgery took nine hours to complete, after which Tracy suffered complications including internal bleeding and an infection.

Tracy´s condition continued to deteriorate and, on 4th May, nursing staff identified blood in her stoma bag. Tracy was returned to theatre, where it was discovered that an artery had been cut during surgery and that the cause of the blood was that her abdominal wall had burst.

Tracy had been diagnosed with Crohn´s disease in 1996 and, prior to her surgery, her condition had been particularly active. She had suffered from abdominal pain and lost nearly three stones in weight in the months leading up to her operation.

In a very weak condition, Tracy was moved into the hospital´s High Dependency Unit. She was sedated and put onto a life support machine, but tragically died eight days later from multiple organ failure caused by sepsis.

Tracy´s husband instructed medical negligence solicitors to investigate the care his wife had received subsequent to her surgery. The solicitors discovered that there had be a delay in identifying and treating the complications and that, due to Tracy´s condition prior to the operation, surgery should not have even taken place.

Tracy´s husband subsequently made a claim for a fatal delay in identifying surgical complications against the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. The NHS Trust admitted that the standard of care Tracy received both before and after her surgery were sub-standard, and a six-figure settlement of the claim was negotiated.

Speaking after the claim for a fatal delay in identifying surgical complications had been resolved, Tracy´s mother told reporters: “We have been completely heartbroken since losing Tracy – it was incredibly difficult for the whole family to see her suffer like she did and deteriorate so quickly in front of our eyes. We never imagined that just two weeks after surgery she would no longer be with us. I just hope that this doesn’t happen to any other families and that the NHS Trust learns from its mistakes.”

Claim for a Doctor Failing to Consider a Phobia Resolved

A woman has successfully resolved her claim for a doctor failing to consider a phobia while he was performing a thyroidectomy on her.

Sylvia Ramsay (66) admits she has an irrational fear of medical instruments and surgical items, but it is something that has plagued her since she was a child. In 2010, Sylvia needed a thyroidectomy and only agreed to undergo the procedure when she heard that the procedure could be performed using dissolvable stitches rather than metal clips.

Prior to undergoing the procedure at the Spire Roding Hospital in Essex, Sylvia explained her phobia to consultant surgeon Dr Akinyada Ojo. As far as Sylvia was aware, Dr Ojo understood that she had a phobia about medical instruments and that he would conduct the surgery using the dissolvable stitches.

However, a year after undergoing the thyroidectomy, Sylvia was referred to a specialist after complaining of breathing difficulties. In order to assist with his diagnosis, the specialist took an X-ray of Sylvia´s throat that revealed the presence of twenty-five metal clips.

Sylvia told her local newspaper she panicked and became a nervous wreck. She had to undergo months of therapy before she was even able to contemplate surgery to have the metal clips removed. Eventually she found the strength to undergo more surgery in 2013.

After speaking with a solicitor, Sylvia made a claim for a doctor failing to consider a phobia against Dr Ojo and the Spire Roding Hospital. Dr Ojo denied that he had deliberately gone against her wishes and attributed the error to a misunderstanding.

A lengthy period of unsuccessful negotiation was followed by the issuing of court proceedings. Only then was a satisfactory resolution to Sylvia´s claim for a doctor failing to consider a phobia forthcoming – although the settlement was made without an admission of liability.

“I know this is not a rational reaction but it is not something I can control,” Sylvia told her local newspaper after her claim for a doctor failing to consider a phobia had been settled. “It’s like putting an arachnophobe into a room full of spiders and telling them not to be so silly.”

High Court Approves Midwife Negligence Compensation Settlement

The High Court in London has approved an £11.5 million settlement of midwife negligence compensation in favour of a five-year-old boy from Brighton.

The young boy – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was born in March 2010 at the Royal Sussex County Hospital after being starved of oxygen in the womb due to a failure by midwives notice his mother´s prolapsed umbilical cord.

Due to being starved of oxygen, the young boy now suffers from athetoid cerebral palsy – a disorder that results in epilepsy and involuntary movements, poor sight and a speech impediment. Because of his disorder, the boy will never be able to live an independent life.

On behalf of his son, the boy´s father made a claim for midwife negligence compensation in 2011. In the action against the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust it was alleged that if the hospital´s midwives had notice the prolapsed umbilical cord, the child would have been delivered earlier and would not have suffered such devastating injuries.

It was not until the end of 2012 that NHS trust admitted liability for the child´s birth injuries and an interim payment of midwife negligence compensation was paid to the family. Reports were then prepared into the child´s future needs and this week at the High Court in London a care and rehabilitation package valued at £11.5 million was approved in final settlement of the claim.

Speaking after the approval hearing, the family´s solicitor issued a statement about the settlement of midwife negligence compensation. He said: “We are pleased that we secured this settlement for him and his family, they now have the financial security and reassurance that the costs for his future treatment will be met.”

The statement continued: “We hope that lessons are learnt by the Hospital and their staff so that patient safety in this situation can be improved and each and every patient receives the best quality of care at all times.”

Settlement of Medical Negligence Claim for a Mismanaged Birth Approved in Court

The settlement of a medical negligence claim for a mismanaged birth has been approved at the High Court in favour of a couple who lost their two-day old son.

On 20th November 2012, Fiona Watters was admitted into the Cavan General Hospital in the later stages of a pregnancy. Fiona´s waters were broken at 10:30am on the morning of 22nd November by consultant obstetrician Dr Salah Aziz, and she was administered Prostiglandin – a synthetic drug similar to Syntocinon – to accelerate her labour.

During the course of the day, the levels of Prostiglandin were increased. By 9:30pm that evening, Fiona´s contractions were so close together that a natural birth was attempted. However, after an hour the midwife rang Dr Aziz to inform him that the child´s head was still not visible and the indications were that the child was suffering foetal distress.

On his arrival at the Labour Ward, Dr Aziz learned that another C-section procedure was occupying the theatre. He attempted a forceps delivery which failed and a vacuum delivery – both of which failed. When the theatre became available, Fiona underwent an emergency C-section, but her son – Jamie – was born in a very poor condition. He was transferred to special care baby unit at the Rotunda Hospital, where he tragically died in his mother´s arms two days later.

An initial investigation into the cause of baby Jamie´s death was quashed by the High Court in August 2013 after Dr Aziz asserted that the correct procedures had not been followed by HSE investigators. However, having received an advanced copy of the report, Fiona and her partner – Francis Flynn – made a medical negligence claim for a mismanaged birth against Cavan General Hospital and the HSE.

The HSE failed to acknowledge liability for Jamie´s death until July 2014, and subsequently commissioned a second investigation into his death – this time to be conducted by an independent review team following two further newborn deaths at the Cavan General Hospital.

An inquest in December 2014 attributed Jamie´s death to a medical misadventure – citing the increase in the administration of Prostiglandin, Dr Aziz´s negligence in not informing the registrar that the drug had been administered, and the lack of a second out-of-hours theatre at the hospital being causative events leading up to Jamie´s death.

Following the verdict, the solicitor representing Fiona and Francis started negotiations with the State Claims Agency to settle the medical negligence claim for a mismanaged birth. Due to the traumatic circumstances of Jamie´s birth and the protracted nature of the investigations into Jamie´s death, a settlement of €70,000 was agreed to account for the long-lasting grief and distress that had been suffered by Jamie´s parents.

Earlier this week, details of the medical negligence claim for a mismanaged birth were related to Mr Justice Richard Humphreys at the High Court. Judge Humphreys approved the settlement, stipulating that €5,000 of the compensation should be paid into court funds for the benefit of Fiona and Francis´ daughter.

Northern Ireland Medical Negligence Claims Cause for Concern

Concerns have been raised that an increase in Northern Ireland medical negligence claims will exhaust addition funding allocated to the health service.

The concerns were raised by Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson after figures from the Department of Health showed that 752 new medical negligence claims had been made against the health service in Northern Ireland in the twelve months to April 2015.

Ms Dobson expressed fears that £47.6 million of addition healthcare funding allocated to the province will be used to settle claims against the health service after the figures also revealed that, during the same period, £41.3 million was paid out in compensation and legal fees to settle Northern Ireland medical negligence claims.

The Ulster Unionist spokesperson for health and agriculture told reporters “Given the worryingly high £41.3 million cost of medical negligence cases last year, and the potential for higher costs this year, I am concerned that this new funding had already been swallowed up by the health service before it was even announced.”

The 3,061 Northern Ireland medical negligence claims that were processed during 2014/15 represent an 11.3 percent increase from five years ago. The majority of the claims relate to negligent treatment, the failure to make a correct diagnosis, the misinterpretation of test results or the failure to act on test results. Other injuries caused by medical negligence in Northern Ireland included child birth injuries and surgical errors.

Peter Walsh – the chief executive of Action against Medical Accidents – commented that the National Health Service should give a higher priority to avoiding patient safety lapses and be prepared to admit that a mistake has been made much sooner after a claim has been made to save legal costs. Northern Ireland medical negligence claims currently take two and a half years to resolve on average.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “The department is committed to providing high quality, safe and effective health and social care services to all patients and clients across Northern Ireland. The treatment and care provided to the overwhelming majority of people is of the highest quality. On occasions, things do go wrong and when they do, it is right that people are compensated appropriately.”

Claim for a Hospital Death due to Meningitis Resolved at Court

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.

Settlement of Claim for Burns due to Carers´ Negligence

An undisclosed settlement of a claim for burns due to carers´ negligence has been paid to the daughters of a woman who was injured in a bathroom accident.

Ninety-year-old Jessie King suffered from dementia and was attended daily in her Rotherham home by two carers who helped Jessie out of bed and assisted her to the bathroom for a shower. On 15th February 2012, Jessie fell while getting ready for her shower and landed with her back against the bathroom radiator.

The two carers contacted Rothercare – a home care services provider – to assist them after Jessie´s fall. Unfortunately, neither of the carers considered that the radiator against which Jessie had fallen was still on. When specialists from Rothercare arrived, Jessie was helped to her feet. She was then helped to finish her shower by the specialists while the two carers prepared Jessie´s breakfast before leaving.

It was not until Jessie was visited later in the day by her daughter and a District Nurse that the injury was discovered. The District Nurse called an ambulance and Jessie was taken to the Northern General Hospital, where she was admitted into the burns unit. Jessie had to undergo several skin grafts due to the burns on her back being so severe.

On Jessie´s behalf, a claim for burns due to carers´ negligence was made against Nestor Primecare Services Ltd trading as Saga Home Care – the company that employed the two carers who had visited Jessie on 15th February. The company denied liability for Jessie´s burn injuries; but, after court proceedings were issued, the claim for burn due to carers´ negligence was resolved by negotiation for an undisclosed amount.

Speaking after the settlement of the claim for burns due to carers´ negligence, one of Jessie´s two daughters told her local newspaper: “The injuries mum suffered were absolutely horrendous and we can’t believe that her carers failed to notice she was lying against a hot radiator and that she had suffered severe burns. We are absolutely shocked that Nestor Primecare Services Ltd has continued to deny liability for the injuries and that they have never apologised for what happened.”

Sadly Jessie passed away in May 2013.

HSE to Appeal High Court Cerebral Palsy Award to Supreme Court

The HSE has indicated that it will take a High Court cerebral palsy award to the Supreme Court after losing an appeal against the original settlement.

On 12th July 2006, Gill Russell was born at the Erinville Hospital in Cork suffering from dyskinetic cerebral palsy. The cause of his injury was described as a “prolonged and totally chaotic” delivery by his legal representatives after his mother – Karen Russell from Aghada in County Cork – had undergone a symphysiotomy to assist with the birth.

On her son´s behalf, Karen Russell made a claim for compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE). Liability was admitted and, in 2012, Gill received an interim High Court cerebral palsy award of €1.4 million. This was followed two years later with a further High Court cerebral palsy award of €13.5 million – the highest settlement ever awarded by the High Court for cerebral palsy.

The HSE and State Claims Agency appealed the level of the High Court cerebral palsy award – arguing that Mr Justice Kevin Cross had based the award on a much lower rate of interest than was traditionally used in Irish courts to calculate the future value of the settlement. The two agencies warned that it was a dangerous precedent that could cost the state and the insurance industry up to €100 million per year.

However, earlier this week, a three-judge panel at the Appeals Court upheld the original settlement – stating that, using the previous formula, a catastrophically injured person would have to take “unjust and unacceptable” investment risks to ensure their financial security. The judges ruled that it was not the courts´ function to inquire what a claimant was likely to do with their award for the purposes of determining its value.

Handing down the verdict of the Appeals Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said that a seriously injured child should not be compared with an investor for the purposes of deciding what should be a prudent investment. Furthermore, she added, the HSE and State Claims Agency would not be in this predicament had the government not failed over decades to enact laws that would allow a structured compensation payment system.

Unfortunately for Gill and Karen Russell, the battle to settle the claim for compensation is not yet finished. The HSE has indicated that it will take the High Court cerebral palsy award to the Supreme Court, where its case will be heard by a seven-judge panel. The date of the hearing is not yet known.

Claim for a Fatal Injury during the Hospital Admission Process

A family has resolved its compensation claim for a fatal injury during the hospital admission process at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Thirty-three year old Ross Askew from Selly Oak in the West Midlands attended the Selly Oak Hospital on New Year´s Day in 2010 after developing abdominal pains the previous evening. Ross was diagnosed with severe necrotising pancreatitis and transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

During the hospital admission process, Ross started to vomit bile. The bile blocked his respirator, but this went unnoticed by hospital staff until Ross – who was already undergoing treatment for a recurring brain tumour went into cardiac arrest due to acute respiratory failure.

Ross suffered a significant brain injury due to being deprived of oxygen, and – once he had been treated for the pancreatitis condition – was transferred in April 2010 to a specialist rehabilitation unit. He was discharged from the rehabilitation unit into the care of his family in August 2010, but tragically died in October.

After seeking legal advice, Ross´s mother, Carol, made a compensation claim for a fatal injury during the hospital admission process at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Carol alleged in the claim that the standard of care received by Ross during the admission process fell below an acceptable standard and was directly responsible for his death.

The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust – the NHS Trust responsible for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – denied that the care received by Ross during the admission process had been negligent. The NHS Trust contested the compensation claim for a fatal injury during the hospital admission process by arguing that the care Ross received was unrelated to the cause of his death.

After a protracted period of negotiation, the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust eventually agreed to an undisclosed settlement of compensation without an admission of liability. Although glad that her claim for a fatal injury during the hospital admission process was finally resolved, Ross´s mother was upset about the NHS Trust´s failure to acknowledge liability. She told her local newspaper:

“We are bitterly disappointed that the Trust did not accept responsibility for the failings in his treatment. After he suffered the brain injury in early 2010, Ross needed 24-hour care as he wasn’t able to move independently or look after himself. We are devastated that he was taken away from us so suddenly and it is incredibly difficult for us to come to terms with.”

Epidural Injury Compensation Claim Allowed to Proceed

A woman has been given permission by the High Court in London to pursue an epidural injury compensation claim eleven years after suffering the injury.

In 2004, twenty-four year old Karen Rayner delivered her third child at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent. Prior to giving birth, Karen had been given an epidural. Karen claims that, at the time, the epidural caused her to lose all feeling in her legs and caused her to experience pains in her heads and spine.

Three weeks after the birth, Karen was readmitted to the hospital after being diagnosed with water on the brain – hydrocephalus. She underwent surgery to drain the fluid but continues to suffer with headaches and spinal pain.

Eight years later in 2012, a specialist determined that Karen´s ongoing health issues was possibly caused by the epidural needle being contaminated with chlorhexidine – an antiseptic commonly used in hospitals to reduce hospital-acquired infections.

Karen – who had since moved to Leeds – sought legal advice and, following an investigation into the viability of her injury being caused by hospital negligence, made an epidural injury compensation claim against Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

Medway NHS Foundation Trust contested the epidural injury compensation claim on the grounds that it was being made ten years after the event had happened and that the three-year Statute of Limitations for bringing hospital negligence claims had expired.

Karen´s solicitor argued that the epidural injury compensation claim was being made within three years of the “date of knowledge” of how Karen´s injury was sustained, and the case went to the High Court in London for the disagreement over the Statute of Limitations to be resolved.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Wilkie agreed with the solicitor´s interpretation of the Statute of Limitations and granted Karen permission to pursue her epidural injury compensation claim. The judge commented that Karen had been “assiduous” in pursuing her right to compensation, and said it would be wrong to prevent the epidural injury compensation claim from being heard. No date has yet been set for the full hearing.

Judge Increases Anti-D Hepatitis Compensation Award by €70,000

A judge has increased an award of Anti-D hepatitis compensation by €70,000 after hearing that the plaintiff had developed cirrhosis and encephalopathy.

The unnamed plaintiff was given an anti-D immunoglobulin blood transfusion in 1977 that was infected with the Hepatitis C virus. She received an interim settlement of anti-D hepatitis compensation in 1998, and started undergoing ribavirin treatment in 2013 when test results showed the possibility of cirrhosis.

Unfortunately, the ribavirin treatment resulted in the plaintiff suffering the side-effects of decompensated cirrhosis and encephalopathy – a brain condition that manifests as forgetfulness and slurred speech. Both the decompensated cirrhosis and encephalopathy conditions are irreversible.

The plaintiff made a claim to the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal for a further settlement of anti-D hepatitis compensation earlier this year. She was awarded €180,000 but appealed the decision as an earlier plaintiff with similar side effects had received €250,000 anti-D hepatitis compensation.

The Minister for Health opposed the appeal on the grounds that the plaintiff had received treatment for cirrhosis before her conditions were diagnosed, and consequently her case was different to the one in which the higher award had been made

The plaintiff took the appeal to the High Court where it was heard by Mr Justice Bernard Barton. Judge Barton was told that the plaintiff´s conditions had been triggered by the ribavirin therapy and would not have occurred but for the treatment that was necessary to prevent the original diagnosis of cirrhosis.

The judge also heard that and that the plaintiff´s brain disorder in particular had caused her great mental anguish because the symptoms of the condition frightened her grandchildren, who the plaintiff was very attached to and who are a very important part of her life.

Judge Barton found in the plaintiff´s favour – saying that it was “only fair and reasonable” that her settlement of anti-D hepatitis compensation be increase by €70,000 to €250,000 and that it was within the High Court´s power to compensate the plaintiff for the pain and suffering arising from the treatment she underwent in 2013.

Seven Women Claim Compensation for Negligent Hysterectomies

Seven women are claiming compensation for negligent hysterectomies against a gynaecologist who was found to have delivered a poor professional performance.

On Thursday, the Medical Council´s Fitness to Practise Committee found gynaecologist Dr Peter Van Greene guilty of failing to deliver a poor professional performance while having responsibility for the care of Helen Cruise – a sixty-one year old patient who had undergone a hysterectomy at the Aut Even private hospital in Kilkenny.

During the hearing, the Committee heard testimonies from Helen and three other women who had been treated by Dr Van Greene. During Helen´s testimony it was revealed that, after undergoing her operation, she had needed six units of blood due to excessive post-operative bleeding. It was also claimed that – due to the doctor´s poor professional performance – Helen has suffered from depression ever since.

Helen also told the Committee hearing Dr Van Greene had only explained the procedure she was about to undergo – and the risks involved with a hysterectomy – while already in the theatre and after she had been administered with a spinal anaesthetic. Although Dr Van Greene denied the allegations, he did admit to not obtaining Helen´s informed consent in a stress-free environment.

The Committee found that Dr Van Greene was guilty of a poor professional performance for failing to obtain Helen´s informed consent prior to her hysterectomy and for communicating with her in an inappropriate manner during a post-surgery conversation with her. The committee has not yet revealed what sanctions it will impose on Dr Van Greene, and these could include a fine or being struck off the medical register.

It was also revealed during the hearing that Dr Van Greene is currently unemployed – having last worked at the Whitfield Clinic in Waterford – and filed for bankruptcy in the UK in January this year. His bankrupt status will not prevent the women from recovering compensation for negligent hysterectomies as, if the claims are successful, the settlement of the claims will be paid by Dr Van Greene´s medical indemnity insurance company.

Varadkar Disputes IDA Dental Healthcare Claims

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has disputed dental healthcare claims made by the IDA that thousands of avoidable tooth extractions are conducted each year.

The dental healthcare claims were made at a seminar for Health Service dentists recently held in Carlow, where the president of the Irish Dental Association (IDA) – Anne Twomey – suggested that cuts in dental funding were responsible for 95 percent of more than ten thousand tooth extractions conducted on children under anaesthetic each year.

In her speech to the delegates, Ms Twomey explained that children under the age of fifteen were needlessly undergoing multiple extractions under anaesthetic in hospitals each year due to a reduction in the schools screening service and a lack of education. Some children, she claimed, were not receiving any form of dental treatment until the age of twelve.

The reduction in the schools screening service, Ms Twomey claimed, had led to many children suffering chronic oral infections – particularly in areas of Galway, Offaly, Kerry and some parts of Cork. Ms Twomey also presented anecdotal evidence that children were being admitted to hospital for antibiotic treatment to treat the infections while they waited for appropriate dental care.

The IDA says that it warning were given to the government five years ago about the impact of cuts to dental services in Ireland, and the Association claims that the cost of the unnecessary extractions would ultimately be much more than had been saved. The figure of ten thousand avoidable extractions was called a “national disgrace”

However Health Minister Leo Varadkar has disputed the accuracy of the dental healthcare claims. Speaking to reporters, Mr Varadkar said: “The number of publicly-employed dentists has gone down from about 312 to 300 in the last couple of years, so there hasn´t been a significant reduction in the number of publicly-employed dentists”.

Mr Varadkar also denied that avoidable hospital extractions for children were running at five times the rate of the UK. He commented that the figures he had seen suggested that the figure of 3,600 dental extractions on children under the age of fifteen under anaesthetic were more accurate, and added “I think we need to know all the facts before jumping to conclusions”.

Family Claim Compensation for a Fatal Post-Surgical Infection

The family of Susan McGee, who died from sepsis after undergoing a hernia operation, are claiming compensation for a fatal post-surgical infection.

Susan McGee (52) from Rush in County Dublin attended the Hermitage Medical Clinic on 13th July 2013 for elective hernia surgery. The surgery appeared to go well, and Susan was discharged on 16th July to be cared for by one of her two children – Melissa Barry.

On the following day, Susan complained of feeling unwell and having abdominal pain. Melissa took her back to the Hermitage Medical Clinic, where she was readmitted for observation. However, Susan´s condition deteriorated over the next few days and, on 22nd July, a CT scan revealed an obstruction in her small bowel.

Susan underwent an operation to clear the blockage, but her condition continued to deteriorate and she was transferred to the Beaumont Hospital on 23rd July. Susan died the following day from multiple organ failure brought on by sepsis that had been triggered by a C.difficle infection.

The initial inquest into Susan´s death in February 2015 had to be adjourned as only the consultants in charge of Susan´s care had given statements, and there was a risk that the evidence given by the nursing staff at the Hermitage Medical Clinic may be contradicted by that forwarded by Melissa Barry.

When the rescheduled inquest was held in June 2015, Dublin City Coroner´s Court heard that there had been a failure by nursing staff at the Hermitage Medical Clinic to report brown faecal fluid draining from Susan´s nasogastric tube, and that Susan´s vital signs had not been recorded between 8:00am and 6:00pm on Sunday 21st July – three days before she died.

The inquest also heard that there was only one resident medical officer on duty over the weekend of 20th/21st July – Dr Lachman Pahwani. Dr Pahwani testified that he had tried to spend as much time with Susan as possible over the weekend, but Susan was one of 81 patients that were staying at the medical facility at the time.

A verdict of death due to medical misadventure was recorded and, after the inquest hearing, Susan´s family sought legal advice before claiming compensation for a fatal post-surgical infection, the failure to identify the infection in an appropriate timescale and the loss of a loved one due to medical negligence. According to the family´s solicitor, a summons has now been issued and served on the Hermitage Medical Clinic.

Alliance wants Legislation to Improve Patient Safety in Hospitals

The Medical Injuries Alliance has called on politicians to fix a “glaringly obvious” problem that would help to improve patient safety in hospitals.

The Medical Injuries Alliance is an organisation that helps patients who have suffered injuries due to mistakes in hospitals get answers about how the mistakes were made. Among the Alliance´s objectives is the promotion of studies into why mistakes occur, so that the results can be used to improve patient safety in hospitals.

In order to meet this objective, the Alliance has frequently called on politicians to introduce laws that would force healthcare professionals to admit when mistakes have been made, to explain how they happened, and to issue an apology immediately. The “Duty of Candour” – the Alliance claims – would also accelerate the settlement of hospital negligence compensation claims.

The Alliance has a statement on its website that reads “the duty of candour in hospitals and doctors should be placed on a statutory footing, entitling injured patients to an accurate account of how they came to suffer medical injury in Irish hospitals” and, to force the issue of patient safety in hospitals, the Alliance has now written a letter to the Irish Times.

The letter was prompted by an article that appeared in the Irish Times that commented on a nine-year delay in the settlement of a cerebral palsy compensation claim. The paper wrote that the delay was due to alleged “stonewalling” by the Health Service Executive (HSE), pointed out that duty of candour laws were implemented in the UK last year, and that similar legislation is clearly needed in Ireland.

The response by the Medical Injuries Alliance was much in agreement with the sentiments of the article and highlighted the necessity to improve patient safety in hospitals. Joice McCarthy – the Secretary of the Medical Injuries Alliance – wrote that many hospital negligence victims are forced to take legal action to get answers that healthcare professionals are reluctant to give.

Ms McCarthy added that injured patients who have been through the legal process often found it to be a stressful and protracted experience; and she alluded to the recent “shabby episode” disagreement between the HSE and the State Claims Agency, in which both blamed the other for a six-year delay in settling a hospital negligence claim.

Ms McCarthy concluded her letter: “Instead of blaming any particular State organisation, or indeed having different State organisations blame one another for the current difficulties, it is high time politicians simply acted to introduce a legal duty of candour in order to fix what seems to be a glaringly obvious problem”.

Couple Reject HSE Apology for the Death of Newborn Child

A couple from Limerick has rejected an HSE apology for the death of their newborn child, saying that the Health Service Executive´s apology is six years too late.

On 11th February 2009, baby Caoimhe was born to Joan and John Mulcair from Corbally in Limerick after the couple had tried for many years to have a child. Tragically, Caoimhe died 39 minutes later in her mother´s arms.

At last week´s inquest into Caoimhe´s death, the jury heard that a lack of blood and oxygen supply to the baby´s brain had been identified and, that during Joan´s labour, a deceleration of the foetal heartbeat had been recorded.

In line with the coroner´s recommendations, the jury returned a verdict of death by medical misadventure – prior to which the court had heard an HSE apology for the death of the newborn child read out by Collette Cowan, the chief executive of the Midland Regional Hospital in Limerick where Caoimhe was born.

However, Caoimhe´s parents rejected the HSE apology for the death of a newborn child, saying that it had come six years too late. Speaking outside the Limerick courthouse, an emotional John said that it was a disgrace that the HSE had put “an ordinary decent family through the pain and torment we had to endure for over six years”.

John explained to reporters that the HSE had denied that there had been any failure to provide an acceptable standard to Caoimhe before, during or after her birth – until liability for her death was admitted last December, and a settlement of the family´s compensation claim was agreed.

In response, the HSE said it had no control over cases involving medical negligence, which are handled by the State Claims Agency. However, the passing of the buck was described as a “shabby episode” by a columnist in the Irish Times, who wrote:

“A common interest links the HSE and the claims agency and there has been a persistent pattern of denial, prevarication and years of unnecessary delay in dealing with medical claims. The public and aggrieved patients deserve better. So do the vast majority of medical professionals.”