Saturday , December 15 2018

HSE Director Apologises for Hospital Childbirth Medical Negligence at Portlaoise Hospital

The National Director of Quality & Patient Safety at the Health Service Executive (HSE) has apologised “unequivocally” to four families who lost a child due to hospital childbirth medical negligence.

The apology by Dr Philip Crowley came prior to an RTE Prime Time television program – “Controversy at Midland General Hospital, Portlaoise – Fatal Failures” – which highlighted failings in care at the hospital that led to four babies dying in childbirth.

The program featured the story of Roisin and Mark Molloy from Tullamore, County Offaly, whose son Mark died shortly after being delivered on 24th January 2012. Medical staff at the hospital initially failed to inform the Molloys of the reason for their son´s death or conduct an investigation into the circumstances of his delivery.

It was only after a four-month battle against the hospital authorities that the HSE acknowledged there had been signs of life when Mark was born and an investigation was initiated. The investigation took over twenty months to complete – a “lamentable delay” according to Dr Crowley – during which time the Molloys were fed misinformation by HSE officials.

Among the things the Molloys were told was that childbirth deaths at the hospital were very rare; but when a subsequent independent clinical review reported “failures in the standard of care provided were casually linked to the foetal hypoxia damage that occurred [and the death of baby Mark]” it became clear that their son had been the victim of hospital childbirth medical negligence and the Midland Regional Hospital issued the Molloy´s with an apology.

By chance, Roisin Molloy heard a radio interview in which a Shauna Keyes was retelling the story of how she had lost her child at the Midland General Hospital in similar circumstances, and the two women got in touch with each other. The story found its way to the RTE Investigation Unit, who found two more examples of hospital childbirth medical negligence in which children had died, an investigation had been conducted, but the parents were never informed of the outcome.

Among the four instances of children dying shortly after birth, investigators discovered that, although sub-standard care had been identified during the investigation into Mark Molloy´s death, no measures had been taken to deal with the shortcomings, and that the same mistakes had been repeated in the deaths of the other three children.

It was also explained in the program that, in order to provide a “safe” level of service, the HSE recommends a ratio of one midwife for each twenty-eight women in the later stages of pregnancy. At the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise there was a ratio of one midwife to seventy-five expectant mothers – a situation which resulted in “a lack of understanding of a deteriorating condition leading to a failure to seek timely medical assistance”.

RTE investigators were shown a copy of a letter written in 2006 by midwifery staff to the then Minister for Finance Brian Cowen and Minister for Health Mary Harney in which concern was expressed over staffing levels at the hospital. The letter said a “real fear” existed that a mother or baby would die before staffing issues were addressed and that the situation had been made clear to the management at the hospital, but no action had been taken.

Speaking on the Today radio program, the current Minister for Health James Reilly said that the hospital childbirth medical negligence at Portlaoise Hospital was “utterly unacceptable”, and that he planned to conduct a further investigation into the failings of care and the deception that the parents of the dead children had experienced.“I have asked the Chief Medical Officer to give me a report. It won’t take long and I will take action to make sure that this never happens again. I have put great emphasis on this.”

Health Minister Wants to Slash Medical Negligence Compensation Payments

The UK´s Secretary for Health – Jeremy Hunt – has stated that he wants to slash medical negligence compensation payments by “Saying Sorry” – a measure that has proved effective in the United States.

Mr Hunt´s comments were made in an interview with the press to announce new guidelines that have been sent to every hospital in England and Wales. The guidelines recommend that medical professionals “say sorry” in circumstances where there had been a failure in the duty of care, or when an accident has happened due to which a patient has suffered an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition. .

The Health Secretary suggested that medical professionals in the health service are reluctant to apologise because of the fear of litigation and this view was echoed by the chief executive of the NHS Litigation Authority – Catherine Dixon – who said:

“Saying sorry is the human and moral thing to do. We won´t say that we are not going to cover you because you´ve said sorry. We are not like a car insurer who will withhold a claim because an apology has been given. Saying sorry is not an admission of legal liability”.

The Secretary for Health used the University of Michigan as an example of how the approach works. Having adopted the practice of “apologising and learning when you are wrong, explaining and vigorously defending when we are right, and viewing court as a last resort”, the University is now one of the safest medical centres in the United States and has halved the medical negligence compensation payments it is liable for from a decade ago.

Mr Hunt tweeted that the University of Michigan´s practice was an “interesting example of how being open and saying sorry could slash the litigation bill. [We] want to see similar results in the NHS”.

Mr Hunt´s concern over medical negligence compensation payments comes after figures revealed the number of claims against the NHS is expected to increase by 25 percent to 12,000; and that around 20 percent of the NHS´s annual budget (approximately £22 billion) would have to be put aside to meet the state´s liability for medical negligence in UK hospitals.

Danger of Deaf Patients Suffering From Medical Negligence Highlighted in Report

A soon-to-be-published report has highlighted the danger of deaf patients suffering from medical negligence due to a failure by medical professionals to communicate.

The report – “Critical Care Required: Access to Interpreted Healthcare in Ireland” – was prepared by Professor Lorraine Leeson as a consequence of the EU-funded project “Medisigns” which was conducted at Trinity College’s Centre for Deaf Studies.

The content of the report focuses on facilitating better communications between healthcare professionals, sign language interpreters and patients, and reveals the danger of deaf patients suffering from medical negligence when communications are misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Examples of some of the tragic accidents that have occurred in Irish hospitals include:

·  One deaf patient was prepared for heart surgery after he attended hospital with a finger injury
·  Concern was raised when a woman failed to sleep for three nights in a recovery ward. It was later discovered that she could not communicate that she was cold.
·  One patient, who relied on sign language to communicate, had eye drops put in their eyes and could not see the signals being made to them or otherwise communicate.
·  A deaf patient was killed after being released from hospital as he attempted to walk home from Galway to Clifden – a distance of 50 miles.

Focus groups who took part in the project also commented on the attitude of medical staff towards deaf people, and the lack of provision those who are hard of hearing – with one case revealing how medical staff called on a hospitalised child who understood sign language to act as an interpreter in the hospital emergency room.

Shortage of Resources No Excuse for Medical Negligence to Deaf Patients

According to a Health Service Executive spokesperson, hospital patients who are deaf or hard of hearing “have a right” to have a sign language interpreter present at healthcare appointments, and the health service provider must find the resources (budget) to ensure one is always available.

This is often possible when appointments are made in advance, but there is the danger of deaf patients suffering from medical negligence when they attend an Emergency Room or their doctor´s surgery.

GPs in particular appear to consider engaging a sign language interpreter as an avoidable expense at a time when they have faced a cut in funding due to FEMPI legislation. However, Professor Leeson cautioned that a shortage of resources is no excuse for medical negligence to deaf patients. She said:

“At the end of the line it is [the doctors’] responsibility to make sure that they are gaining informed consent from their patients and to ensure that their patients understand, and what we are finding is that patients are saying that they absolutely do not understand what is happening.”

She added that failing to use the services of a sign language interpreter could have serious implications for both the patient and doctor: “what [would be] the cost if they were found to be liable for not actually clearly communicating with their patients and there are consequences arising from that”.

Important Footnote:

If you or somebody close to you has suffered medical negligence due to being hard of hearing, we appreciate that you may not be able to use our free telephone advice service. We would therefore request that you complete the contact form at the foot of this page – using the text box to let us know that you cannot communicate by telephone and supplying us with an email address or alternative form of communication.

Allergic Reaction Compensation Claim Against Hairdresser Resolved Prior to Court Hearing

A woman has resolved her allergic reaction compensation claim against her hairdresser in an undisclosed out-of-court settlement just before a hearing was due to get underway.

Grainne Moynihan (33) made the allergic reaction compensation claim against her hairdresser – Coiffeur Salons Ltd in William Street South, Dublin (trading as Dylan Bradshaw) – following a colouring treatment she underwent at the salon on 11th November 2010.

Grainne from Castleknock Park in Dublin alleged in her allergic reaction compensation claim that, following her visit to the salon, a rash developed on her scalp, ears and neck which she attributed to an allergic reaction from the treatment she had received

Grainne visited her doctor, who prescribed her antihistamine medication and a course of oral steroids, and then sought legal advice about making a compensation claim against her hairdresser. Coiffeur Salons Ltd contested liability for Grainne´s claim, and the Injuries Board issued her with an Authorisation to pursue her claim in court.

Coiffeur Salons Ltd continue to argue that treatment Grainne received had not been negligent and the company entered a full defence against the claim prior to the case being scheduled to be heard at the Circuit Civil Court before Judge Matthew Deery.

However, before the hearing into Grainne´s claim commenced, Judge Deery was informed the compensation claim against the hairdresser could be struck off as an undisclosed settlement had been reached prior to the court hearing.

Black Eye Claim for Compensation Settled in Court

The Circuit Civil Court has settled a black eye claim for compensation after hearing the circumstances of how a university student sustained her injury in an acupuncture training course.

Forty-five year old Bernadette Poleon from Dunboyne, County Meath, volunteered in April 2010 to take part in an acupuncture training course that was being held at the Irish Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Dublin.

One of the exercises during the training course involved a student inserting a needle below each of Bernadette´s eyes. After the student´s placement of the needles was examined by a course supervisor, the needle below Bernadette´s right eye was repositioned.

Later the same day, the skin around Bernadette´s left eye became swollen and tender and, within two days, significant bruising had developed around the eye. The swelling and tenderness disappeared several days later, but the discolouring around Bernadette´s eye lasted a further seven weeks.

After Bernadette also developed a sinus problem – for which she is still receiving treatment from her GP – she made a black eye claim for compensation against Bellfield Consultants Ltd, who are the owners of the Irish Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Bellfield Consultants Ltd contested the black eye claim for compensation and presented a full defence against the claim when court proceedings were issued. However, when the case was about to be heard by Judge Jacqueline Linnane at the Circuit Civil Court, the judge was told that – by consent – the case was now before her for the assessment of compensation only.

After hearing how Bernadette had sustained her injury, and the embarrassment she experienced while the injury was still visible, the judge awarded Bernadette €6,000 in settlement of her black eye claim for compensation and costs.

Judge Approves Hospital Negligence Compensation for Death following Childbirth

A High Court judge has approved a settlement of hospital negligence compensation for death following childbirth after hearing the tragic story of Dhara Kivlehan, who died shortly after giving birth to her first child.

Dhara (29) had been admitted to Sligo General Hospital on 20th September 2010 for the delivery of her first child – Dior. At the time of her admission, she was two weeks passed her due date and exhibiting symptoms consistent with pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure and fluid retention around the feet and ankles (oedema).

Blood test conducted on Dhara showed that she had abnormal liver and kidney function (a further symptom of pre-eclampsia), but the results of the blood test were not communicated to Dhara´s doctors for a further twelve hours. The morning following her admission, Dhara gave birth to her son, and was transferred to a side room.

It was during Dhara´s thirty-six hours in the side room that her condition deteriorated and she was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit at Sligo General Hospital at 4.45pm the day after giving birth. At 11.00pm that night, Dhara´s condition became critical, and she was air-lifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where she died of multiple organ failure four days later.

Dhara´s husband – Michael Kivlehan from Dromahair, County Sligo – believed that the treatment Dhara had received in the side room of the maternity unit had been inadequate as his wife´s condition deteriorated, and made a claim for hospital negligence compensation for death following childbirth against the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The HSE denied that there had been a failure by the Sligo General Hospital to acknowledge the significance and severity of Dhara´s deterioration or to treat her appropriately, and a trial date was scheduled for the case to be heard in court.

However, shortly before the family´s claim for hospital negligence compensation for death following childbirth was due to be heard, the HSE admitted that there had been shortcomings in the care provided for Dhara and a settlement of hospital negligence compensation was negotiated.

At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard an apology from the HSE read out to the family before approving the agreed settlement of €800,000. The judge expressed her sympathy to Michael and Dior – who were in court for the approval hearing – but she also criticised the HSE for “holding out until almost the bitter end” before admitting liability and for causing the family unnecessary distress.

Settlement of Claim against HSE for Cerebral Palsy Approved by Judge

A High Court judge has approved the settlement of a claim against the HSE for cerebral palsy and criticised both the HSE and State Claims Agency for taking so long to resolve the case.

Dylan Gaffney (6) from Kilcohan Park in Waterford was born at Waterford Regional Hospital on July 22nd 2007, in a poor condition after an emergency Caesarean Section had been performed on his mother – Jean – and with no paediatrician immediately available to provide adequate resuscitation.

Jean Gaffney had previously requested a Caesarean Section delivery for Dylan, as her first daughter had been born by emergency C-Section after 51 hours of labour, and she had miscarried a second child. Her obstetrician had dissuaded her from having one, despite an ultrasound two days before Dylan´s birth indicating that he weighed nine pounds, four ounces.

The ultrasound had been conducted after Jean had attended the Waterford Regional Hospital on July 20th because she believed her waters had broken. She was given an antenatal appointment for five days later but, on the morning of the 22nd, went into spontaneous labour and was admitted into the hospital.

Jean was administered oxytocic – a drug to stimulate contractions – and told to commence pushing. According to Jean´s solicitor at the High Court, this was entirely inappropriate in the circumstances and a Caesarean should have been performed straight away. Instead, medical staff at the hospital waited until after 2.00pm in the afternoon to deliver Dylan.

When Dylan was eventually resuscitated, he had been denied oxygen in the womb and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and other injuries.

After speaking with a solicitor, Jean made a claim against the HSE for cerebral palsy compensation in her son´s behalf, and wrote to the State Claims Agency in June 2009 with evidence of negligence compiled by an independent medical expert.

Despite the evidence clearly showing that Dylan´s birth injuries were attributable to negligence before, during and after his delivery, the State Claims Agency denied everything and refused to consider Jean´s claim against the HSE for cerebral palsy.

Ultimately, court proceedings had to be issued while Jean and her partner – Thomas Hayes – put their lives aside to care for Dylan. It was only shortly before Jean´s claim against the HSE for cerebral palsy was due to be heard that liability was admitted and discussions started to agree a financial settlement.

At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that an agreement had been reached for Dylan to receive a lump sum payment of €8.5 million, as a more beneficial structured payment system was not yet available.

The judge approved the settlement, but criticised the conduct of the Health Service Executive and State Claims Agency for the delay in admitting liability, and causing additional stress for Dylan and his family. She said that this was the second case within a week where the actions of the HSE and State Claims Agency were “highly regrettable”.

Government Appoints Judge to Consider Claims for Symphysiotomy Injury Compensation

The Government has appointed Judge Yvonne Murphy to work out a solution to the issue of claims for symphysiotomy injury compensation following its U-turn on extending the Statute of Limitations.

Dr James Reilly – the Minister for Health – announced this week in a press conference that Judge Yvonne Murphy has been asked to compile options for women who wish to make claims for symphysiotomy injury compensation.

Around 300 women survive who underwent the controversial childbirth procedure in Irish hospitals between 1940 and 1990 – many of whom now have difficulty in walking, suffer chronic pain and incontinence as a result.

Judge Murphy has been asked to look at feasible compensation options for review in February 2014, to compensate the women for the pain they experienced at the time of the symphysiotomy and throughout the rest of their lives.

The Minister said that the Government would contribute to an ex gratia scheme if that was a recommended option , and it is believed that Judge Murphy will be speaking with insurance companies to explore whether they would contribute towards such a scheme.

Originally the Government planned to allow a Private Members Bill introduced by Sinn Féin’s Health Spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin through the Dáil, which would have enabled a one-year window for the women claims for symphysiotomy injury compensation.

However legal advisors told the Government that, by offering a window in the Statute of Limitations, they could face a legal challenge from the insurance companies who would have been liable for compensating the women and the support for the Bill was withdrawn.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin criticised plans to keep the statute of limitations in place and said “The type of scheme outlined in the terms of reference offers the women no prospect of adequate compensation for what was so barbarically done to them nor the choice to pursue their rights in the courts.”

However Tom Moran – Chairman of the support group Survivors of Symphysiotomy Ltd – welcomed the prospect of his members being able to resolve their claims for symphysiotomy injury compensation. “We welcome this decision to appoint the judge and we hope it leads to women finally being given a chance of some kind of closure.”

Girl to Receive Compensation for Cerebral Palsy due to Mismanaged Birth

A twelve year old girl is to receive €2.3 million compensation for cerebral palsy due to a mismanaged birth after an interim settlement was approved at the High Court.

Mary Conroy was heavily pregnant with her first child when she attended the Midland Regional Hospital in Portloaise on 10th November 2001 believing that her waters had broken. After being reassured that they had not, and everything was fine, Mary was sent home.

On 13th November, Mary then attended the clinic of her personal consultant obstetrician – Dr John Corristine – and, following an ultrasound, insisted she be admitted into hospital.

A CTG scan at the Midland Regional Hospital failed to show any sign of contractions, and Mary was advised to take a bath – but no hot water was available at the hospital – so Dr Corristine ordered that medicine should be administered to help induce labour.

Mary gave birth to her daughter – Roisin – the following morning, but Roisin suffered seizures shortly after her birth and was transferred to a hospital in Dublin with adequate neo-natal facilities. However, Roisin failed to improve and was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

As a result of the injuries suffered prior to her birth, Roisin (now 12 years old) is permanently disabled and can only communicate through her eyes. Mary Conroy blamed herself for Roisin´s injuries, and insisted on having two further children delivered by Caesarean Section.

Mary and Kevin Conroy both gave up their jobs to care for their daughter; believing for many years that nothing could have been done to prevent Roisin´s condition and that they had been “just unlucky”.

However, after speaking with a solicitor – who initiated an investigation into the circumstances prior to Roisin´s birth – the couple found out that Roisin was entitled to compensation for cerebral palsy due to a mismanaged birth.

A claim on Roisin´s behalf was made in 2011, but it was almost two years later – and weeks before the compensation claim for cerebral palsy due to a mismanaged birth was due to be heard in court – that Dr Corristine and the Health Service Executive (HSE) admitted liability for Roisin´s birth injuries.

An interim settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to a mismanaged birth was negotiated that would see Roisin´s family receive an initial compensation payment of €2.3 million, with another assessment made of Roisin´s needs in two years time if a structure compensation system has not been introduced.

The settlement was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine after the High Court had heard an apology read to the family by Dr Corristine and a representative of the HSE. In it both defendants said that “neither this apology nor the financial compensation granted by the court can negate the continuing heartache that the Conroy family must feel every day and appreciate that this continues to be a very difficult time for them.”

Couple Settle Claim for Nervous Shock over Death of Baby

A couple, who alleged that their consultant gynaecologist had mismanaged the birth of their child, have resolved their claim for nervous shock over the death of their baby in an out-of-court settlement.

Jane Farren and Feidhlimidh Wrafter from Rathgar, Dublin, made their claim for nervous shock over the death of their baby, Molly, who died on October 16th 2008 after being delivered in an emergency Caesarean Section.

Jane had been admitted to the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin on October 15th after a spontaneous membrane rupture. She was administered Syntocinon to help induce labour and, at 3.45 am the following morning, was transferred to theatre to attempt a vacuum delivery. Molly was born half an hour later by C-Section, but could not be resuscitated and died.

The couple alleged that their consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician Professor Fergal Malone had failed to properly manage the labour, delivery and birth of their child, and that staff at the Rotunda Hospital had failed to identify abnormalities in the foetal heart rate in a timely manner, which would have led to Molly being born earlier and possibly surviving.

The couple also claimed that they were misinformed during the labour and delivery process, and led to believe after Molly´s death that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it. Jane and Feidhlimidh also explored the possibility that Molly´s death could have been due to a genetic problem or a pre-labour trauma, despite the couple already having two perfectly healthy children.

Professor Malone and the Rotunda Hospital denied that mistakes had been made which resulted in Molly´s death but, shortly before a scheduled hearing at the High Court, it was announced that the claim for nervous shock over the death of a baby had been settled for €150,000 without admission of liability, and that the case could be struck out.

Compensation for Cerebral Palsy due to Consultant Negligence Approved in Court

A High Court judge has approved a second interim payment of compensation for cerebral palsy due to consultant negligence, as a structured system for the payment of compensation in Ireland has not been introduced.

Two years ago, the Sheehan family from Mallow in County Cork were awarded an interim settlement of €1.9 million in respect of their eight-year-old daughter, Isabelle, who was born with severe paraplegic cerebral palsy after the consultant paediatrician treating Isabelle´s mother failed to act on blood test results which revealed a conflict of antibodies.

The consultant paediatrician – Dr David Corr – admitted that he had made a mistake in the management of Catherine Sheehan´s pregnancy, which led to Isabelle´s terrible injuries when she was born at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in November 2004, and acknowledged that he should have referred Catherine to an expert in foetal medicine.

After the initial settlement hearing, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill approved the settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to consultant negligence and adjourned Isabelle´s case for two years to allow for the introduction of a structured system for the payment of compensation when a plaintiff has sustained lifelong injuries.

As no structured system for the payment of compensation has yet been introduced, Isabelle´s case was heard again at the High Court by Mr Justice Kevin Cross; who was told that a further interim settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to consultant negligence had been agreed, which would pay for the care that Isabelle needs for a further two years.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the interim settlement of €635,000, after hearing that Isabelle was keeping up with the other children at her mainstream school and that she was a bright and intelligent little girl. The judge wished Isabelle a very good future and adjourned her case for another two years.

We Have Updated our Page on Compensation for Whiplash Injuries

We have updated our page on compensation for whiplash injuries to provide additional information on how much compensation for whiplash injuries a plaintiff in Ireland may be entitled to.

The information is now particularly relevant for all plaintiffs who have sustained whiplash injuries in a road traffic accident in Ireland in order to assess what is included when compensation settlements are negotiated or assessed by the Injuries Board. As ever, it is recommended that you seek the advice of an experienced personal injury solicitor to have your whiplash injury compensation claim assessed, for as it states in our article, “a typical payout for whiplash does not exist”.

You can read more on What is the Typical Payout for Whiplash?” 

Postman Successfully Claims Compensation for being Attacked by a Dog

A County Westmeath postman has successfully claimed injury compensation for being attacked by a dog while trying to deliver post to a house in Kilbeggan.

Sixty-three year old Joseph Dunne from Kilbeggan, County Westmeath, was attempting to deliver post to house in Kilbeggan when, on 8th October 2008, a husky-type dog escaped from the garden of the house through a hole in the hedge and attacked him.

Joseph was knocked to the pavement by the dog, who continued to claw and bite him while the terrified postman was lying on the floor. Fortunately a passer-by was able to stop the attack by hitting the dog across the back with a stick and Joseph was rushed to hospital.

At the hospital, Joseph was treated for lacerations to the right side of his face and received twenty-two stitches. He also have to receive treatment for nerve damage just below his forehead and, once the stitches from his cuts were removed, he had to undergo plastic surgery to hide the worst of his scars.

Joseph returned to his postal duties soon after the attack, but made a claim for injury compensation for being attacked by the dog against the animal´s owners – Olive Dalton and Martin Maher of Dublin Road, Kilbeggan. The couple denied their liability for Joseph´s injuries, despite having had the dog put down following the attack, and the case was heard at the High Court in Dublin.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty heard Ms Dalton and Mr Maher denying that they had been negligent in failing to enclose their garden securely and allowing the dog to escape; however the judge found in Joseph´s favour and, awarding him €55,000 injury compensation for being attacked by a dog, commended Joseph for returning to work so quickly after his frightening incident.

Workplace Slip and Fall Injury Compensation Cost more than €22 Million in 2012

The Chief Executive of the HSA has issued a warning to employers after it was revealed that workplace slip and fall injury compensation cost industry more than €22 million in 2012.

The warning to employers “to take some time this week to consider the safety systems they have in place and make sure not to leave anything to chance” came in a statement made by Martin O´Halloran – Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority – after it was revealed that a third of all accepted Injury Board assessments relating to accidents at work were attributable to workplace slip and fall injury compensation.

Mr O´Halloran was commenting on figures released by the Injuries Board to coincide with European Week for Safety and Health at Work which showed that 807 assessments of injury compensation for accidents at work were accepted in 2012 amounting to more than €22 million (1), and he referred to a health and safety study which indicated that employees take less care at work because of the employer´s responsibility to prevent accidents

It was also revealed that a quarter of all workplaces inspected by the Health and Safety Authority last year had not conducted a risk assessment to identify the dangers of slips and falls in the workplace, and that two of the highest accepted assessments of work place slip and fall injury compensation concerned avoidable fatal accidents.

Other statistics released by the Injuries Board to coincide with the European Week for Safety and Health at Work included:

· The average assessment of injury compensation for an accident at work was €27,286.
· Men are twice as likely to sustain a workplace injury as women.
· Almost one-in-three assessments were for workers in the 25 to 34 age group
· One-in-five of the accepted assessments of workplace slip and fall injury compensation were for injuries which resulted in the plaintiff taking at least one month to recover.

Mr O’Halloran concluded by saying “Effective management of workplace safety and health not only protects workers from injury and ill-health, but also has the potential to save businesses thousands of Euros. Proper management of workplace safety and health contributes to long-term commercial success and profitability”.

(1) In 2012, less than one-third of the applications for assessment submitted to the Injuries Board were resolved through the Injuries Board process – indicating that the number of workplace slip and fall injury compensation claims last year could have been as high as 2,500.

We Have Updated Our Medical Negligence Claims Information Page

We have updated our medical negligence claims information page so that it is more comprehensive than ever before and offers advice on the procedures that need to be completed prior to claiming compensation for medical negligence in Ireland.

As ever, the information we provide about medical negligence claims is no substitute for speaking directly with an experienced solicitor and, if you believe that you – or somebody close to you – has suffered a loss, an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition, which could have been prevented if you had received an acceptable standard of care, you are advised to discuss your individual situation with a solicitor without delay.

You can visit our revised page containing medical negligence claims information by clicking on the link below:

>> Medical Negligence Claims <<

Widow to Receive Compensation for Fatal Medication Error

The widow of a man, who died of a muscle failure condition after being prescribed medication for an infected toe which allegedly interacted with his diabetic treatment, is to receive compensation for a fatal medication error.

Margaret Devereux from Greenrath in County Tipperary made a claim for compensation for a fatal medication error after her husband – John Devereux – had died in Cork University Hospital in March 2008 from acute renal failure brought on by rhabdmoloysis – a condition in which the muscles break down.

John had initially attended the South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel in January of that year with an infection in a toe on his right foot. Doctors diagnosed that the infection was due to septic arthritis and prescribed Sodium Fusidate – a medicine often prescribed for bacterial skin infections – before sending him home.

However, John´s infected toe got no better, and he started to develop debilitating pains in his arms and legs. He returned to the hospital on February 15th, when he was admitted and five further courses of Sodium Fusidate were administered – causing his condition to deteriorate further and develop into acute renal failure. John was transferred to Cork University Hospital, where he died on 2nd March.

Margaret Devereux took legal advice after discovering that her husband´s death could have been avoided if a potential conflict between the Sodium Fusidate that was prescribed for him and his existing diabetic medication had been identified before it was administered, and claimed compensation for a fatal medication error against the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The HSE denied any negligence or that it was in breach of its duty of care but, after negotiation, agreed to a compensation settlement of €45,000 which Margaret accepted under legal advice. At the High Court in Dublin, the settlement was approved by Mrs Justice Mary Irvine, who commented that there would have been a “huge hill to climb to establish liability” had the claim gone to court.

Agreement Found in Pre-Birth Injuries Compensation Claim

A Circuit Civil Court judge has approved a settlement in a pre-birth injuries compensation claim after an agreement was negotiated between the two parties involved.

Judge Matthew Deery approved the settlement after hearing how Aoife Sheehan (14) from Rathfarnham in Dublin was delivered prematurely at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin on 15th April 1999 at only thirty-six weeks.

It had been alleged in the claim for pre-birth injuries compensation that Aoife had been born prematurely due to her mother – Martina Sheehan – having been involved in a car crash two days earlier which was responsible for the early onset of her labour.

After her birth, Aoife suffered from respiratory distress syndrome and was transferred to the intensive care unit where a ventilator was used to control her breathing. Even when it was felt safe to remove the ventilator, Aoife remained in the intensive care unit for a further three weeks.

Through her mother, Aoife made a pre-birth injuries compensation claim against the driver of the car Martina Sheehan had been in collision with – Elaine O’Connor, also from Rathfarnham – alleging that had the accident not occurred, Aoife would not have been born prematurely and suffered from respiratory distress.

Insurers for Ms O´Connor denied their policyholder´s liability and claimed that there was no proof that the car accident was the cause of the early onset of labour and that pre-term babies were more pre-disposed to respiratory distress.

They also stated that, as Aoife was not born at the time of the accident, she was ineligible to receive compensation for her pre-birth injuries. However, after protracted negotiations a settlement of the pre-birth injuries compensation claim was agreed that would see Aoife receiving €17,800.

Approving the settlement, Judge Deery said that – given the circumstances and difficulties proving liability – the settlement was a good one.

10 Percent Rise in Assessments by the Injuries Board

A report published by the Injuries Board has revealed a 10 percent rise in assessments by the Injuries Board in the six months to June 2013.

During the first half of the year, 16,162 applications for assessments by the Injuries Board were received by the government body – up from 14,685 during the corresponding period in 2012. Plaintiffs accepted 5,286 assessments of compensation made by the Injuries Board – an increase from the 5,180 accepted assessments in the first half of 2012.

However, these figures also revealed a lower percentage of Injuries Board assessments being accepted (32.7 percent, down from 32.7 percent) – indicating that more plaintiffs are pursuing a negotiated settlement or court action, rather than relying on the Injuries Board to resolve their injury compensation claims.

The highest proportion of assessments by the Injuries Board was in respect of car accident compensation (75.5 percent), with the remainder divided between employer liability (compensation for accidents at work – 8.1 percent) and public liability (compensation for accidents in shops, on the street or in other places of public access – 16.4 percent).

The total value of awards made by the Injuries Board and the average value of each award also increased, however Patricia Byron – CEO of the Injuries Board – was keen to point out that this was primarily due to a small number of exceptional assessments by the Injuries Board which had been made during the first half of 2012.

Ms Byron was also keen to express that the increase in assessments by the Injuries Board was no excuse for insurance companies to raise insurance premiums. She explained that a reduction in the processing fee charged to insurers representing negligent parties more than covered the increase in how much compensation was assessed by the Injuries Board.

Readers should note that despite the high number of Injuries Board assessments being rejected, plaintiffs should still apply to the Injuries Board (with the help of a solicitor if your claim is not straightforward) for an assessment of personal injury compensation. Should a negotiated settlement with the negligent party not be possible, you will need an Authorisation from the Injuries Board to pursue your personal injury compensation claim through the courts.

Woman Awarded Compensation for an Injury on a Supermarket Escalator

A court in America has awarded $9.9 million in compensation for an injury on a supermarket escalator to a woman who developed complex regional pain syndrome after an accident at her local Costco.

Rose Nudelman from New York had finished shopping in the Brooklyn branch of Costco when she manoeuvred her loaded shopping trolley onto the ascending supermarket escalator to return to her car.

The escalator was equipped with a mechanism to prevent the shopping trolley rolling back down the slope so that customers did not have to hold onto it; however, on this occasion the trolley broke free of the mechanism and struck fifty-one year old Rose with force on the wrist.

Despite not having experienced any apparent physical injuries, Rose reported the accident to the supermarket after it happened. Two weeks later, however, she had lost her mobility and could only hobble around her home with the use of a cane.

Doctors diagnosed the neurological condition “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome” and, after seeking legal advice, Rose made a claim for compensation for an injury on a supermarket escalator.

Costco denied their liability for Rose´s injuries, and argued that she exaggerated her condition in order to claim injury compensation; however Rose persisted with her claim and, after a court hearing, a jury awarded her $9.9 million in compensation for an injury on a supermarket escalator.

After the hearing Costco´s insurers said that they are likely to appeal the settlement, but Rose´s solicitor said no amount of money would persuade anybody “you or I know” to change places with his client.

Further Delays to DePuy Hip Replacement Court Case

Further delays to the DePuy hip replacement court case in Ohio have been caused by a late substitute of plaintiff and the judge ruling that the worldwide recall of faulty DePuy hip replacement systems cannot be used as evidence in court.

The start of the first Federal DePuy hip replacement court case was delayed last week after U.S. District Judge David A. Katz allowed the parties in McCracken -v- DePuy (Case No 1:11 dp 20485) more time for discovery and to deal with other legal matters.

The DePuy hip replacement court case has now been rescheduled to September 24th and will concern the injury sustained by Ann McCracken (57) from Rochester in New York, who suffered a dislocated hip allegedly due to metal particles from her DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System causing the soft tissues around her hip to decay.

Ann had her DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip replacement system implanted in August 2009, but it had to be removed in January 2011 after she had sustained her injury. In October 2011, Ann had to undergo a further operation to insert a device to restrict the movement of her hip, which has reduced her range of mobility and will result in her current hip replacement system wearing out sooner than normal – resulting in more surgery in the future.

Judge Katz has already agreed that the recall of the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular and ASR Articular Surface Hip Replacement Systems should not be mentioned in court – not only because he wants the DePuy hip replacement court case to be heard on the merits of the individual action, but DePuy´s lawyers argued successfully that any reference to the DePuy recall at trial might deter other companies from voluntarily withdrawing potentially harmful medical devices because of the legal implications.

One of the purposes of Ann´s DePuy hip replacement court case is to establish the relative strengths and weaknesses of the plaintiffs´ claims and DePuy´s defence. If Ann´s case, and others included in the `Bellwether’ trials still to be scheduled, results in a “standard” of compensation settlements, DePuy Orthopaedics Inc are likely to make offers of injury compensation to the 7,800 plaintiffs also attached to this DePuy hip replacement court case through a consolidated multidistrict litigation (MDL).

If no compensation standard is set by the juries in each of the trials – or if there is a mixture of positive and negative verdicts returned – all of the outstanding DePuy hip replacement court cases will be returned to the US District Courts in which they were filed – prolonging the length of time it will take for each plaintiff to receive a fair settlement of DePuy injury compensation.

This latter scenario would also have an impact on plaintiffs in Ireland waiting to hear if they will be made an acceptable offer of DePuy injury compensation, or whether they will have to endure their own DePuy hip replacement court case.

Claim for Injury from Chair at Work Resolved in Court

A woman from Canberra in Australia, who made a compensation claim for an injury from a chair at work, has had her claim resolved in court for more than AU$1 million.

Terry Anne Downie was a team leader for the Australian Capital Territory Community Information and Referral Service when, in June 2002, she bought furniture for her office from Fyshwick – an ex-government furniture outlet store – including the chair which she was going to use at work.

In October 2002, Terry Anne was using the telephone while sitting on the chair, when two of the plastic supports at the base of the chair snapped and she fell to the floor. A co-worker aid that she heard a loud crack and, when she turned around to see what had happened, witnessed Terry Anne struggling on the floor unable to get up.

Terry Anne was taken to hospital, where it was found that a disc swollen by the accident at work was in contact with a nerve root in her spine. Doctors were unable to repair the damage and Terry Anne – now 51 years old – consequently suffers from ongoing pain and has developed a mental illness, sexual dysfunction and a permanent tingling sensation under the skin of her legs.

Terry Anne was paid Au$190,000 in worker´s compensation in 2005 after making a claim for an injury from a chair at work against her employer, but she also made a private claim for accident injury compensation against the company that imported the chair from China – Jantom – claiming that the product was faulty when it was delivered in kit form to Fyshwick.

The Community Information and Referral Service also made a claim against Jantom to recover the compensation for an injury from a chair at work they had already paid to Terry Anne and, at the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, Judge Master David Harper ruled in favour of Terry Anne and her former employers after hearing expert testimony that the plastic moulding on the base of the chair had failed and caused two of the five supporting spokes to break.

The judge awarded Terry Anne Au$933,030 compensation in settlement of her claim for an injury from a chair at work, plus a further Au$112,000 to cover past, present and future medical expenses. Announcing the verdict, Master David Harper said “Terry Anne has many years ahead of pain and depression. Her life is very different to the life she could have expected if it had not been for her injury. Her enjoyment of life, and the kind of life she is able to lead, have been altered immeasurably.”

Successful Plaintiff to Pay Proportion of Legal Costs for a Medical Negligence Claim

A High Court judge has ordered a plaintiff to pay a proportion of her legal costs for a medical negligence claim after the claim was resolved successfully.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine took the unusual step of departing from the legal principal of “costs follow the event” in the case of Madeline Wright v. the Health Service Executive, in which the judge determined that no more than 20% of the evidence presented in court related to the claim against the HSE.

The judge noted that several other allegations – particularly those made against Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr. Keith Synott – were unsubstantiated, and although commenting that “she (Madeline) must be deemed to be the overall winner of proceedings in which the defendants denied any liability” the judge also added that the case of medical negligence was proven in only one leg of the claim (of four).

Ms Justice Mary Irvine added “Just because a plaintiff has one good point they should not, to my mind, be permitted to litigate a myriad of others and have the court make an order requiring the successful defendant on such issues to pay for that luxury. There must be some sanction in terms of costs should this occur”.

The judge said the she was tempted to reduce the award of legal costs for a medical negligence claim to 20% to reflect the time that had been wasted in court, and to act as a deterrent to any future plaintiff who may attempt to attach unsubstantiated allegations to a genuine claim. However, she admitted that a reduction of 80% legal costs for a medical negligence claim was too harsh due to the complexity of the claim.

Instead, the judge settled on a reduction of 35% and awarded Madeline 65% of her full legal costs for a medical negligence claim “as this practice (departing from the principal of “costs follow the event”) has not to date been customary in this type of litigation”.

Failure in National Standards Could Lead to Hospital Infection Claims

More patients could be eligible to make hospital infection claims for compensation following health inspections at five Irish hospitals which were found to be in breach of the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections.

Inspectors from the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) made unannounced visits to several hospitals throughout Ireland in June and July and the reports of their inspections have just been made public. The reports reveal a catalogue of breaches in the National Standards which would make patients, visitors or staff who contracted an illness eligible to make hospital infection claims.

The five hospitals in which there was a serious lack of hygiene among the medical and nursing staff were:-

Waterford Regional Hospital

Waterford Regional Hospital, in which inspectors discovered eighteen cases of poor hand hygiene among the twenty-three cases they looked at, patients with suspected transmittable diseases being treated in the general area of the Accident & Emergency Department and a general lack of cleanliness in the hospital A&E Department and the equipment that was used in the hospital.

St Michael´s Hospital

At St Michael´s Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, inspectors discovered two unhygienic temperature probes – one was visibly unclean and the second had a sticky residue on its screen – and that mould had been allowed to grow in the hospital´s toilets and showering facilities for patients. The inspectors also reported that hand hygiene practices in general posed a risk of transmitting infections to patients.

Portiuncila Hospital

At Portiuncila Hospital in Galway inspectors found that hospital infection claims could be justified for a number of reasons including problems with the physical environment, waste management and the cleanliness of medical equipment used on patients.

Louth County Hospital

Inspectors visiting Louth County Hospital discovered two cases of patients with known transmissible infections placed in isolation rooms with the doors left open onto the general ward and hand hygiene was again identified as an issue which could result in hospital infection claims, with inspectors recording in their report “The physical environment and equipment were generally unclean . . . and therefore were not effectively managed and maintained to protect patients and reduce the spread of healthcare associated infections.”

Our Lady´s Hospital

The Accident & Emergency Department at Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan was found to be generally unclean – with the patient toilets´ walls being described as “heavily stained” – and a high risk of infection was identified in the hospital´s female medical ward, where access to the storage room which contained syringes and needles was “uncontrolled”.

Unacceptable

Rob Landers – clinical director of Waterford Regional Hospital – described the findings in the report as “unacceptable” and said that compulsory hand hygiene training would be introduced for all workers at the hospital. Waterford Regional Hospital has been given six weeks to develop a quality improvement plan and publish it on the hospital website.

RCSI: Negligence Claims against GPs in Ireland Primarily for Missed Diagnoses

A report conducted by the Health Research Board on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has found that most negligence claims against GPs are primarily for missed diagnoses.

The research of negligence claims against GPs was conducted at the Centre for Primary Care Research in Dublin in order to determine which areas of primary care should be concentrated on when compiling future educational strategies and developing risk management systems for all healthcare professionals.

The final report revealed that the most common reasons for negligence claims against GPs were missed diagnoses and medication errors, with the delayed diagnosis of cancer being the most frequent individual condition which gave plaintiffs grounds to claim compensation.

Admitting that negligence claims against GPs are “not a perfect substitute for adverse events” lead researcher Dr Emma Wallace – who is herself a GP – provided a list of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions. For adults these included breast cancer, colon cancer, cancers of the skin, female genital tract and lungs; while children with appendicitis and meningitis were most likely to be misdiagnosed.

Dr Wallace hopes that the findings in the report will improve the primary care received by patients. She acknowledges in her report that the number of negligence claims against GPs is increasing and, as doctors in fear of litigation practice more defensively, many more patients are being referred to consultants – delaying an accurate diagnosis in many cases and enabling a condition to deteriorate unnecessarily.

She also hopes that there will be fewer negligence claims against GPs, as it has been shown that doctors facing litigation experience increased levels of stress, which in turn reduces the level of service they are able to provide.

Emotional Trauma Compensation Offered to Survivors of San Francisco Air Crash

The 288 survivors of Asiana Flight 214, which crashed while landing at San Francisco last month, have each been offered $10,000 emotional trauma compensation by the airline.

The crash on July 6th happened when a Boeing 777 on route from Seoul in South Korea hit a seawall while making its final approach into San Francisco International Airport. Two passengers died in the crash and a third passenger also died when she was tragically run over by a fire truck coming to extinguish the fire which broke out in the plane after the crash.

181 passengers were taken to hospital after the accident – where 49 still remain in serious condition – and despite the US National Transportation Safety Board having yet to conclude their report into how the crash happened, Asiana Airlines have already offered each of the 288 survivors initial emotional trauma compensation of $10,000.

The offer of emotional trauma compensation is non-conditional and will be paid irrespective of whether a passenger suffered a physical injury or not in the crash or not. In accordance with the Montreal Convention, passengers accepting the initial compensation offer will still be eligible for further payments for both their physical injuries and psychological injuries from the airline

However, how much compensation for an air crash each passenger receives will be subject to their nationality, where they were travelling from and whether their flight was one-way or the second leg of a return trip, as higher levels of air crash compensation apply to US citizens who bring legal action in the United States than European or Asian citizens who may have been travelling on vacation.

It may also be the case that Asiana Airline´s offer of compensation for an emotional trauma is premature, as the psychological injuries sustained by each of the passengers may not be known for many months.

Coroner says Hospital Death was due to Lack of Risk Assessment

A broken-hearted family are to make a claim for compensation after a Coroner found their daughter´s tragic hospital death was due to the lack of a risk assessment.

The report followed the death of Amy Hauserman, who died at the age of 26 while taking a bath in Melbourne´s Frankston Hospital in March 2008. Amy had voluntarily been admitted to the hospital after doctors feared she was showing signs of schizophrenia which had previously resulted in Amy experiencing anorexia.

Two days after she had entered the psychiatric department of the hospital, Amy was allowed to take a bath, during which time – according to the Coroner´s report – she either lapsed into an unconscious state or slipped as she tried to get out of the bath. Amy was found face-down in the bath having died from “a hypoxic brain injury in a setting of immersion” which could have been avoided had a nurse been present in the bathroom.

Coroner Peter White said at the hearing into Amy´s death that “I find that the absence of supervision was a primary feature leading to her death, in that it caused or contributed to an inability to successfully intervene and to give effect to her rescue.” He also highlighted that no risk evaluation have been undertaken and that Amy was allowed an unsupervised bath without the advice of her consultant being sought.

One of the nurses who worked on the ward at the time gave evidence that she was unaware there was a protocol for patients taking baths, but she was contradicted by the Head of Nursing who said that all ward patients should only be allowed to take a bath after a risk assessment had been conducted and that observations should be done through direct visual and oral contact.

Immediately after the hearing had concluded, Amy´s father announced that the family would be making a compensation claim for a hospital death due to the lack of a risk assessment, and a date in May 2014 has been assigned for the compensation hearing.

Binman to Receive Compensation for Being Burned by Hot Oil at Work

A binman is to receive compensation for being burned by hot oil at work after a hearing at the Circuit Civil Court.

Kamil Kozlowski (30) from Part West Point in Dublin feared that he would go blind after a hydraulic cable on the back of the garbage truck he was emptying bins into burst, and sprayed him in the face with hot oil.

The accident – which occurred in Sandyford Road in Dublin in July 2011 – was quickly attended by an ambulance crew, who applied first aid at the scene of the accident and then took Kamil to the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin.

At the hospital, Kamil had his eyes rinsed and was prescribed eye drops; however, Kamil continued to experience pain in his left eye and it was a month before his vision returned to normal.

Kamil sought legal advice, and made a claim for compensation for being burned by hot oil at work against his employers; claiming that they had breached their duty of care by failing to maintain the garbage truck to an acceptable standard.

His employers – Panda Waste Services Ltd of Navan, County Meath – admitted their liability for Kamil´s injury, but the company´s insurers could not reach a satisfactory settlement of the claim with Kamil´s legal advisers.

Consequently, the claim for being burned by hot oil at work was presented to Judge Alison Lindsay at the Circuit Civil Court, who – after hearing the circumstances of Kamil´s accident and injury – awarded him €15,565 compensation.

Family Receive Compensation for Negligent Medical Treatment

The family of a woman, who died after an alleged failure to diagnose a perforated bowel, has settled its claim for wrongful death against the HSE and are to receive €50,000 in compensation for negligent medical treatment.

The family of Eileen Maloney from Pullathomas in County Mayo made their claim for negligent medical treatment compensation after the sixty-nine year old mother of thirteen died at the Mayo General Hospital in February 2009.

Eileen, who was suffering from cancer, was admitted to the hospital on February 1st 2009 complaining of severe abdominal pain. An x-ray was taken after her admission which – the family claim – showed an obstruction in Eileen´s bowel; but, as it was the weekend, no doctor was available to diagnose her condition.

A CT scan taken on the 6th of February confirmed the presence of a tumour, but neither the scan nor the original x-ray was reviewed to check for a perforated bowel. Had Eileen´s condition been diagnosed at the time, she would have undergone immediate emergency surgery rather than having to wait until February 12th for an operation.

Eileen died on February 17th – five days after her surgery – and it was alleged by her family in their claim for negligent medical treatment compensation that they were told by a member of the medical team Eileen would have survived the operation, despite her cancer, and lived for a further six months at least had her medical treatment been of an acceptable standard.

The family´s claim for Eileen´s wrongful death and their unnecessary mental anguish was initially denied by the HSE. However, Mr Justice Michael Peart at the High Court in Dublin was told that a settlement had been agreed between the two parties without admission of liability that would see the family receive €50,000 in compensation for negligent medical treatment.

Mr Justice Michael Peart approved the settlement of compensation for negligent medical treatment, stating that it had been a “very, very tragic case” and extending his sympathies to the family.

The HSE denied being responsible for Eileen´s wrongful death but, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Michael Peart heard that the family had agreed a settlement of their negligent hospital treatment claim amounting to €50,000 without an admission of liability from the HSE.

The judge approved the settlement of the claim, stating that Eileen´s death had been “very, very tragic” and he extended his sympathies to her family.

€3m Awarded to Galway Car Crash Victim

An award of €3m has been approved for Rhona Murphy of Newcastle, County Galway, for brain damage follow a car crash on February 7, 1999.

The High Court heard that Ms Murphy suffered profound head injuries and was lucky to have survived the accident. Rhona Murphy was a 20-year-old student at the time of the accident, hoping to pursue a career as a teacher.

The car crash happened on the Galway to Headford Road in County Galway. Ms Murphy was the passenger in a car and sued the driver for negligence. It was claimed in court that the driver was driving at an excessive speed which, overtook on the inside lane when it was unsafe and dangerous to do so and was thereby driving in a reckless, dangerous or careless manner.

While approving the settlement, Ms Justice Mary Irvine noted that there was a question of contributory negligence because Ms Murphy may not have been wearing a seatbelt and was aware that the driver of the car had consumed alcohol.

Savita´s Husband makes Hospital Negligence Claim against University Hospital Galway

The husband of Savita Halappanavar, who died last year after being denied an abortion, has made a hospital negligence claim for compensation against University Hospital Galway and the HSE.

Savita Halappanavar died at the University Hospital Galway one week after attending the hospital´s A&E department complaining of an acute back pain. She was found to be in the process of miscarrying her 17 week foetus and was admitted under the care of consultant doctor Dr Katherine Astbury.

The following morning Savita´s waters broke and, because of the severe pain she was in, requested a termination. Savita was told by Dr Astbury to “await events” and it was explained to her that an abortion was not an option in Ireland while there was still a foetal heartbeat.

Savita´s condition deteriorated, and Dr Astbury eventually consulted with a senior colleague about performing a termination. However, a scan revealed that Savita´s baby had already died. Savita was moved into theatre, where she spontaneously delivered her deceased baby and was later moved into intensive care after it was found she was suffering from septic shock.

The following morning it was discovered that Savita had developed severe septicaemia due to E.coli ESBL. Savita became critically ill as her organs ceased to function and suffered a fatal cardiac arrest on Sunday October 28th.

The inquest into Savita´s death delivered a verdict of “medical misadventure” and an investigation by the Health Service Executive (HSE) also failed to officially identify who was to blame for the lack of care Savita received, or acknowledge liability for her avoidable death.

Savita´s family declared the inquest and the HSE investigation a “whitewash” and, in order to get answers to the questions the family feel were overlooked, Praveen Halappanavar has made a hospital negligence claim for compensation against the University Hospital Galway and the HSE – alleging that the hospital failed to treat, failed to follow up blood tests, and failed to diagnose.

The University Hospital Galway and the HSE declined to comment on whether they will offer a defence against the hospital negligence claim or acknowledge liability before a court hearing is announced.

Compensation for Childrens Ill Health Approved for Twins

Twin sisters, who developed breathing problems after faulty renovations had been made to the family home, are to each receive €5,000 compensation for childrens ill health after a settlement was approved at the Circuit Civil Court.

Eleven-year-olds Abby and Chloe Croke both developed respiratory difficulties following the incorrect installation of a shower drain in the bathroom of the family home in Raheny, County Dublin. Investigations into the source of the Chloe´s asthma and the issues which had affected the rest of the family took three years before it was discovered that the fumes from the shower drain were the cause of the problem.

After remedial work was carried out on the bathroom, and the health of the family improved, a claim for childrens ill health compensation was made by the girls´ mother – Ita Croke – against the company that carried out the renovations to the bathroom – Alpha Engineering Heat Providers of Finglas, Dublin – claiming that the company´s negligence had resulted in an injury to her children.

The company denied that they had negligently installed the shower drain, but agreed to a settlement of compensation for childrens ill health amounting to €5,000 for each child. As with all claims for children´s injury compensation, the settlement has to be approved by a judge before the claim is resolved and, at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke rubber-stamped the compensation settlements.

Judge Approves Settlements of Compensation for Injuries in Childcare Facilities

Two settlements of compensation for injuries in childcare facilities have been approved in the High Court following separate claims brought by the parents of children injured in two separate accidents.

The first claim for children´s injury compensation was made against Sandy Childcare of Dunshaughlin, County Meath, by the father of Ella Rogerson, who was hit in the face by a jet of water from a hose in June 2010, and suffered a serious injury to her eye.

Ella´s father claimed that the staff at Sandy Childcare had been negligent and in breach of their duty of care by allowing the accident to happen – a claim which the childcare facility denied.

However, Mr Justice Michael Peart at the High Court in Dublin heard that an agreement of compensation for injuries in childcare facilities had been reached and, after hearing the circumstances of Ella´s accident, the judge approved the settlement amounting to €122,000.

The second of the settlements of compensation for injuries in childcare facilities concerned three-year-old Lauren Torpey, who had tripped and suffered a deep cut to her face when she had fallen against a sharp-edged skirting board in June 2011 at the Giraffe Childcare facility in Harcourt Road, Dublin.

Lauren made a claim for children´s injury compensation through her mother Tara Lillywhite of Rathgar, County Dublin, and liability for Lauren´s injury was admitted in this case. Mr Justice Michael Peart, who was again sitting, approved the settlement of €51,500 compensation for injuries in childcare facilities.

Claim for Cerebral Palsy Compensation Adjourned for Two Years after Interim Settlement Approved

A claim for cerebral palsy compensation has been adjourned for two years after an interim settlement of compensation for a thirteen-year-old boy was approved in the High Court.

Ryan Brennan from Cahir, County Tipperary sustained irreversible brain damage during his birth at St. Joseph´s Hospital in Clonmel in January 2000; an injury which his parents – Lorraine and Raymond Brennan – believe was due to a failure to act by the hospital´s consultant obstetrician – Dr Brendan Powell.

The Brennans alleged in their claim for cerebral injury compensation that abnormalities had been discovered in Ryan´s heart rate tracing hours before he was delivered, but no action had been taken by the doctor or staff at the hospital. Ryan had to be resuscitated after he was born and throughout the following day suffered seizures.

Dr Powell and the Health Service Executive (HSE) – acting on behalf of St. Joseph´s Hospital – denied responsibility for Ryan´s injuries and the Brennans claim for cerebral injury compensation on the grounds of negligence, breach of duty and breach of contract

However, Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court in Dublin was told that an interim compensation settlement of 1.7million €uros had been agreed with the HSE without admission of liability to provide for Ryan´s immediate care and that the claim against Dr Powell could be struck out.

After approving the interim compensation settlement, Ms Justice Mary Irvine adjourned the case for two years to allow reports on Ryan´s future requirements to be conducted and to allow time for the possible introduction of a periodic payment system to replace the current lump sum system of paying compensation for catastrophic injuries.

Birth Injuries Obstretic Negligence Claim Resolved in Court

The family of a young female who suffered brain damage injuries at her birth due to hospital errors have had their birth injuries obstretic negligence claim resolved at the High Court in Dublin.

Alex Butler, now eight years old, from County Waterford, was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005; however, due to the hospital not having an adequate number of properly skilled competent medical staff to deal with the Alex’s birth, and to ensure that an adequate and competent obstetrician was on duty available, Alex’s delivery was delayed by twelve minutes – during which time she suffered brain trauma which led to permanent tetraplegic injury.

In a claim take, on her behalf, through her mother Sonya, Alex alleged that her consultant obstetrician had been allowed to take leave at the same time as Waterford Regional Hospital’s two other obstetricians and that the hospital had temporarily employed a locum obstetrician without ensuring that he was competent. ALong with this it was claimed that Sonya´s pre-operative assessment was insufficient and there was a failure to recognise the necessity for a Caesarean section.

The High Court was advised that the Health Service Executive (HSE) admitted liability for Alex´s brain injuries, and the claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff made against the consultant obstetrician – John Bermingham – and locum obstetrician – Mahmud Khbuli – were thrown out of court. A representative from Waterford read out an apology for the mismanagement of Alex’s birth and accepted that the mistakes should never have happened.

The Court also heard that an interim compensation settlement of Alex´s claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff amounting to €1.4 million had been agreed upon between the HSE and Alex´s parents. The birth injuries obstretic negligence claim settlement is to be reviewed again in two years when an assessment of Alex´s care needs for the future has been made, and by which time it is hoped that the option of a structured settlement is available.

Hotel Employee Door Injury Claim Settled in Court

A cleaning worker at the Rivercourt Hotel in Kilkenny, who lost part of her small finger when it was cut by a door slamming shut on it, has settled her hotel employee door injury claim in the High Court.

Aneta Antoszcsyk (35) made her hotel employee door injury claim for compensation after losing the tip of her little finger on her left hand in a freak occurence.

While Aneta was taking away a wooden door stop, which was keeping a door open, the door slammed shut with such force that it severed the top of her finger.

Sadly it was not possible to reattach the removed tip of the finger and Aneta – who was seven months pregnant at the time of the incident in April 2011 – will be left with a permanent disfigurement.

Having spoken to a solicitor regarding the incident, Aneta made a claim for hotel employee door injury against Gatehalf Limited (trading as Kilkenny Rivercourt Hotel) alleging that, as her employers, the company had neglected to provide her with a safe workplace environment or safe system of work and had exposed her to the possibility of injury.

It was claimed in the hotel worker finger injury claim that Aneta had never been guided or trained properly on the safe removal of door stops and that – as she was seven months pregnant – she should have had the assistance of a colleague for the task in question.

The Kilkenny Rivercourt Hotel did not accept liability for Aneta’s injury – alleging that she had contributed in whole or in part to her injury by putting her hand in an unsafe location while removing the door-stopper and displayed a lack of regard for her own safety on this occasion based on her previous experience of carrying out the same task.

However, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith Ó Neill ruled in Aneta´s favour – stating that she had “sustained a most unfortunate injury” due to the negligence of her employers – and awarded her €50,000 in settlement in her hotel employee door injury claim.

Electric Shock Accident at Work Compensation Claim Resolved Out of Court

A Dublin Airport baggage handler, who experienced two subsequent electric shocks when trying to connect a power cable line to a Boeing 737, has resolved his electric shock accident at work compensation claim out of court.

Patrick Kemmy (39) from Blanchardstown in Dublin filed the compensation claim after experiencing a work injury while trying to link the electric cable to the jet in April 2009. At first Patrick felt it was caused by something that he had not done properly which led to the first electric shock, but on a second effort he received an even greater electrical shock.

The work accident at Dublin Airport left Mr Kemmy suffering from a tingling sensation in his right arm – which still causes pain intermittently almost four years after the initial event – chest pains, headaches, shortness of breath and neck pains. Due to the injuries he suffered in the accident, Patrick has been unable to work nine or ten times.

In his legal action, he claimed that his employers Servisair and the Dublin Airport Authority had directed him to use an electrical power cable which had not been sufficiently protected against the water which, as there was rain at the time, led to the electric shocks.

Liability for Patrick´s injuries was denied by Servisair and the Dublin Airport Authority but, shortly before the compensation claim for an electric accident at work was to be heard at the High Court, officials were told that the claim had been settleed out of court.

How much electric shock accident at work compensation Patrick received was not revealed.

Travelator Compensation for Fall on Moving Walkway

A female who caught the heel of her shoe in a hole on a travelator in a Dublin shopping centre has been awarded €13.150 in travelator compensation for a fall on a moving walkway after a hearing at the Circuit Civil Court.

Nuala Holloway Casey (60) from Blackrock in Dublin claimed for shopping centre compensation against Secret Retail Holdings (trading as Superquinn Shopping Centre) and Kine (Ireland) Limited, travelator and escalator fitters, of Ballymount, County Dublin, after being inflicted with an ankle injury at the Superquinn Shopping Centre in December 2007.

Judge Barry Hickson in the Circuit Civil Court was informed that in December 2007, Nuala hit the ground badly after she caught her high heel shoe in a hole at the top to a descending moving walkway – damaging her left ankle. The court was told that she still felt pain in the ankle and had no choice but to give up playing tennis because of the injury.

As liability in the case had already been accepted by the by the joint defendants the only argument remaining was the final amount of compensation to be awarded for a fall on a moving walkway. This was in dispute as Ms Holloway Casey had failed to seek medical treatment for 10 days after the incident occurred and exacerbated her injury by a separate fall in 2009.

After reviewing the medical testimony in support of the compensation claim, Judge Hickson awarded the former Miss Ireland €12,000 supermarket travelator compensation for the fall on the moving walkway plus a separate €1,250 to make up for the costs she had incurred which were directly attributable to her accident.

Boxer´s Taxi Accident Whiplash Claim Resolved in High Court

A champion boxer has been awarded 26,000 Euros in settlement of his taxi accident whiplash claim following a hearing in the High Court.

David Maguire (35) from Clondalkin in Dublin sustained his injuries when a taxi he was travelling in was rear-ended by an unidentified vehicle in at the junction of Ballyfermot Road and O’Hogan Road, Dublin, on March 26, 2010.

In his action against the Motor Insurers´ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), Maguire claimed that as a result of the impact he suffered injuries to his lower back and neck however, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said there was “no merit” to his claim that he suffered injuries to his neck.

Highlighting the fact that there was no reference made to Maguire sustaining any neck injury in a report prepared by his GP following the accident, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns also pointed out that in the months after the accident Maguire went on to win the Leinster heavy weight boxing championship and competed in the All Ireland championships.

However, the judge conceded that Maguire was entitled to taxi accident whiplash compensation for the injuries he had sustained to his lower back and acknowledged that Maguire had fought through the pain at the Leinster boxing championships in his attempt to become a professional boxer.

Hearing that liability for the taxi accident whiplash claim was not being contested by the MIBI, and that the case was before him for assessment of damages only, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns awarded Maguire 26,000 Euros in compensation for whiplash from a taxi accident plus the costs of bringing his action – adding that he wished him well in his bid to become a professional boxer.

Compensation for Late Diagnosis of Brain Tumour Approved in High Court

A young student, who was left severely disabled after an alleged delay in diagnosing a tumour, has had a settlement of compensation for the late diagnosis of a brain tumour approved at the High Court.

Seamus Walshe Jnr (27) of Taylor´s Hill, Galway, was a third-level construction studies student when – in 2006 – he started experiencing problems with his eyes when gazing upwards. His symptoms deteriorated to include nausea and vomiting and, when Seamus attended the Galway University Hospital, he was told after a neurological examination that there was no problem.

Seamus´ symptoms continued and, as the tumour in his brain grew and spread into surrounding tissues, he experienced increasing levels of pain and discomfort. After a subsequent scan at Galway University Hospital revealed the tumour, Seamus was referred to the Beaumont Hospital in Dublin where he underwent surgery in May 2007.

However, complications during surgery resulted in haemorrhaging around the brain tumour and Seamus was in intensive care for nine weeks after his operation. Eventually he was transferred back to Galway University Hospital in November 2007 and then to the National Rehabilitation Centre in September 2008 – by which time Seamus was confined to wheelchair, had severe spasticity of the limbs and severe disorder of eye movements.

Through his father – Seamus Walshe Snr – Seamus made a claim against the Health Service Executive and the Beaumont Hospital for compensation for the late diagnosis of a brain tumour, alleging that had scans been ordered when he first attended the Galway University Hospital, he would have been referred to the Beaumont Hospital much sooner.

It was also claimed that the Beaumont Hospital had elected to perform surgery rather than treat the tumour with radiotherapy and chemotherapy although the latter treatment had long-term survival rates of up to 90 percent.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court was told that a settlement of compensation for the late diagnosis of a brain tumour amounting to 2.5 million Euros had been agreed without admission of liability to cover Seamus´ care for the next three years. Thereafter periodic payments would provide for Seamus´ care should legislation be introduced in time.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement but stated there was no guarantee that periodic payments legislation will be introduced within three years as there has been a “deathly silence” from the Government on the matter.

Waiter Makes Back Injury Claim against Slieve Russell Hotel

A former employee of the Quinn family-owned Slieve Russell Hotel , who was allegedly injured while stacking trays onto a trolley, has made a waiter back injury claim for compensation against the hotel and its parent company.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan at the High Court heard how Robert Miloch, from Ballyconnell, County Cavan, had been squatting down to place trays onto a trolley when he heard a click in his back and started to feel a pain running from his back to his leg.

After being told to go home and see his doctor, Mr Miloch was diagnosed with a lumbar back injury which prevents him from sitting for long periods of time, maintaining certain positions and picking up his nine-month-old baby.

The court was also told that an MRI scan taken of Mr Miloch´s back revealed two discs putting pressure on a nerve and, as a result, he was advised not to return to work by his doctor. Mr Miloch has been unable to work since the injury was sustained in April 2010.

After seeking legal advice, Mr Miloch made a waiter back injury claim against the Slieve Russell Hotel and Quinn Hotels Limited, alleging that he had sustained his injury due to the hotel´s negligence.

Both defendants deny their liability for Mr Miloch´s injury and it was claimed in court that the claimant´s back injury could have been exacerbated by a rear-end collision he experienced in October 2010. It was also claimed that Mr Miloch´s doctor had described the fact that his patient could move in one position but not another as “paradoxical”.

The case is ongoing.