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Advice about Making a Lip Filler Injury Claim

Ensure you get appropriate and relevant legal advice from a solicitor about making a lip filler injury claim for compensation against a cosmetic surgeon.

In Ireland, lip filler procedures are usually carried out without complication. Although patients can suffer bruising, swelling and bleeding around the lips as a result of the procedures, these symptoms often disappear quickly with no long-term adverse effects. When more serious or permanent injuries occur, it may be possible to making a lip filler injury claim depending on the nature of the injury and its cause.

However, making a lip filler injury claim can be complicated. If you signed a contract consenting to the procedure after having been informed the injury you sustained was a possible risk, the cosmetic surgeon will deny liability for your injury. Similarly, if the injury could not have been avoided at the time and in the circumstances, a lip filler injury claim for compensation will likely be unsuccessful.

The success of a lip filler injury claim largely depends on the same criteria as a medical negligence claim – that “on the balance of probabilities” the cosmetic surgeon, the surgery, or an agent of the surgery demonstrated a lack of skill, and that lack of skill resulted in you sustaining an avoidable injury. Because the criteria is similar to a medical negligence claim, you cannot apply to the Injuries Board for an assessment and your case has to be handled by a solicitor.

After reviewing any pre-treatment contract you entered into and asking you about whether or not you gave your informed consent, your solicitor will usually engage a medical expert to ascertain the level of injury you have sustained, confirm that it could have been avoided with greater care, and – in the event of asymmetry or other irregularities – assess whether the injury can be reversed.

Once sufficient evident of negligence has been collected to support your lip filler injury claim, your solicitor will write to the cosmetic surgeon, providing details of the claim made against him or her, and requesting an offer of settlement. Should you be approached at this time by the cosmetic surgeon or their insurance company with a private offer of settlement, you must refer it to your solicitor.

When negligence has been acknowledged, your solicitor will negotiate an appropriate settlement of your claim based on the level of injury you have sustained, your pain and suffering (include mental suffering if you have experienced a lack of confidence), your age, previous state of health and your motive for undergoing the procedure in the first place.

Because of the complexity of making a lip filler injury claim, it is very important that you seek professional legal advice that is relevant to your specific circumstances. There are many different types of injury that can be sustained due to negligent lip filler procedures, and each one will affect patients differently. Therefore ensure you get appropriate and relevant legal advice from a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.

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Claim for a Negligent Laparoscopy Procedure Resolved at Court

A claim for a negligent laparoscopy procedure has been resolved at the High Court, with the plaintiff being awarded more than €855,000 compensation.

In June 2002, the plaintiff – a fifty-year-old woman from Grenville in County Laoise – attended the Portlaoise General Hospital (now the Midland General Hospital) to undergo a routine laparoscopy. The objective of the procedure was to establish why the woman was unable to fall pregnant; but, while a trocar was being inserted into her abdomen to facilitate a telescopic examination, the surgical instrument tore an artery, causing the plaintiff to haemorrhage and lose eight pints of blood.

The woman was taken to the hospital´s intensive care unit, where she was placed on a ventilator. She remained on life support for two days and was kept under observation for a further four days before being allowed to leave the hospital. Due to the negligent laparoscopy procedure, the woman has a large scar on her abdomen and continues to experience pain in the abdominal region – pain that will likely remain with her for the rest of her life.

After an investigation was launched into the standard of her care, the woman made a claim for a negligent laparoscopy procedure against her consultant obstetrician – Dr John Corristine – and the Midland Health Board (now the Health Service Executive). The claim for a negligent laparoscopy procedure alleged there had been a failure to take adequate precautions for the woman´s safety and to ensure the equipment used during the procedure was in a good and proper working order.

The consultant obstetrician and HSE acknowledged liability for the mistakes made during the procedure, for the large scar on the woman´s abdomen, and her initial pain and suffering. However, the connection between the negligent laparoscopy procedure and her ongoing pain and suffering was contested. As no resolution to the claim could be found by negotiation, the case proceeded to the High Court where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the hearing, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard medical evidence supporting the connection between the negligent laparoscopy procedure and the woman´s ongoing pain and suffering. The judge was also told that her condition was likely to deteriorate in the future. Judge Cross found the woman´s quality of life had been significantly impaired as a result of the hospital´s lack of care, and he awarded the plaintiff €855,793 in settlement of her claim for a negligent laparoscopy procedure.

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Settlement of Girl´s Claim for the Misdiagnosis of Meningitis Approved in the High Court

A High Court judge has approved the settlement of a girl´s claim for the misdiagnosis of meningitis made against the County Kerry-based South Doc service.

Early in the morning of July 10th, 2005, the concerned parents of a three-year-old girl telephoned the South Doc out-of-hours medical service, worried about their daughter´s condition. The previous eventing she had been drowsy and vomiting, and had developed a rash on her stomach. She was also running a high temperature and had suffered overnight from diarrhoea.

The parents were told to bring their daughter into the clinic on Kinsdale Road in Cork, where she was attended by Dr Leon Britz. After a short examination, Dr Britz diagnosed that the young girl was suffering from tonsillitis and told the family not to worry. However, four and a half hours later, the family returned to the clinic, concerned that the girl´s condition had deteriorated and that the rash on her stomach had reddened and spread over a wider area.

The girl was accurately diagnosed as suffering from meningitis and she was referred to the Emergency Department of Cork General Hospital. At Cork General Hospital, the diagnosis of meningitis was confirmed and the girl was administered antibiotics before being transferred to Our Lady´s Children´s Hospital in Dublin. Due to the delayed diagnosis, the girl had both legs amputated below the knee.

After seeking legal advice, the girl´s mother made a claim for the misdiagnosis of meningitis against Dr Britz and the South Doc service on her daughter´s behalf. It was claimed in the legal action that the misdiagnosis of meningitis had resulted in an avoidable delay in the administration of antibiotics which had “profound consequences” for the young girl.

Dr Britz and the South Doc service admitted that mistakes had been made in the diagnosis, and agreed to a settlement of the claim for the misdiagnosis of meningitis amounting to €5.6 million. As the claim for the misdiagnosis of meningitis had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the girl´s best interests.

At the approval hearing last week in the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told of the circumstances leading up to the misdiagnosis and the consequences for the girl. The judge approved the settlement of the claim for the misdiagnosis of meningitis, noting that the outcome could have been far worse, and praising the girl´s parent for the care they had given their daughter over the years.

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Sodium Valproate Side Effect Claims Launched in France

A class action comprising several hundred sodium valproate side effect claims has begun in France to compensate children who sustained injuries in the womb.

Sodium valproate is an active ingredient of the drug known in Ireland as Epilim. In 1983, Epilim was introduced into Ireland after having been successfully used in France for treating patients for epilepsy and bipolar disorder. The drug was also prescribed in Ireland to treat migraine because it stabilises electrical activity in the brain.

Sodium valproate breaks down in the bloodstream and is absorbed as valproic acid. If taken by pregnant women, the valproic acid can enter the womb and have an adverse effect on the development of the foetus. Children exposed to valproic acid in the womb have been born with a wide range of development issues including spina bifida and autism.

Allegedly, the sodium valproate side effects were suspected before Epilim was introduced in Ireland but, due to the limited studies that had been conducted on the foetal development issues, the information available at the time was considered to be inconclusive. However, France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) has now looked deeper into the issue and produced a disturbing report.

In the preparation of its report, ANSM researched the health of 8,701 children born between 2007 and 2014 whose mothers had taken the French-branded equivalent of Epilim during pregnancy. The agency identified up to 4,100 children suffering from sodium valproate side effects along with hundreds of stillbirths attributable to the active ingredient.

ANSM´s report has prompted hundreds of sodium valproate side effect claims that have been combined to make one large class action against the manufacturer of Epilim – Sanofi. The sodium valproate side effect claims are currently being made on behalf of children in France who have been diagnosed with foetal valproate syndrome, but is likely to expand across the world.

In Ireland, there are no records relating to children who have been diagnosed with injuries due to foetal valproate syndrome, and a support group for parents – the FACS Forum – has called upon the government to conduct an audit to identify the scale of the problem. The support group hopes the audit will result in support being provided for parents of children suffering from sodium valproate side effects.

For further information about what support is currently available for children exposed to valproic acid in the womb, the FACS Forum can be reached via the disability-federation.ie website. If you would like to find out more about the sodium valproate side effect claims being made in France, you should speak with a solicitor.

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Details of Claim against the HSE for a Brain Injury at Birth Heard in Court

Details of a claim against the HSE for a brain injury at birth have been heard in the High Court prior to the approval of a €15 million lump sum settlement.

The claim against the HSE for a brain injury at birth was made on behalf of a ten-year-old boy, whose birth on May 25th 2006 at Kerry general Hospital was avoidably delayed by more than two hours. Due to a series of systematic failings, the boy was starved of oxygen in the womb and diagnosed with mixed dyskinetic spastic cerebral palsy shortly after he was born.

Among the series of failings related to Mr Justice Peter Kelly at the High Court were the failure to act on a CTG trace indicating foetal distress, the failure to consider foetal hypoxia, and the inform the consultant obstetrician about a worrying pattern developing in the foetal heart rate. Now ten years of age, the boy cannot speak, is confined to a wheelchair and requires around the clock care.

The judge also heard that the HSE failed to admit liability for almost nine years despite a consultant admitting to the boy´s parents in 2006 that mistakes had been made. During this time, the boy´s parents had to care for him without the support usually provided for parents of children with cerebral palsy. This was not lost on Judge Kelly, who paid tribute to the boy´s parents for the care they had provided.

Eventually, the judge was told, the HSE only admitted liability after being threatened with aggravated damages. A €2.7 million interim settlement of the claim against the HSE for a brain injury at birth was approved in early 2015, and the lump sum payment he was being asked to approve was a final payment that would be held and managed by the courts.

Judge Kelly described the €15 million lump sum settlement as making “commercial, common and legal sense”. He approved the settlement of the claim against the HSE for a brain injury at birth, adding that while no amount of money could compensate the boy and his family for what they had experience, it was the only form of redress the law could provide. The judge closed the hearing by saying he hoped the settlement would give the family peace of mind for the future.

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Judge Approves Interim Settlement of Compensation for an Avoidable Delayed Birth

A judge at the High Court has approved an interim settlement of compensation for an avoidable delayed birth in favour of a six-year-old boy.

The claim for compensation for an avoidable delayed birth was made by the mother of a six-year-old boy from Ballaghaderreen in County Roscommon, who was born at Sligo General Hospital in May 2010.

It was alleged in the claim that a CTG trace taken at 5:30pm showed signs of foetal distress. However, rather than arrange his emergency C-Section delivery within a reasonable timeframe, his birth was avoidably delayed by more than two hours.

As a result of the avoidable delay, the boy was starved of oxygen and born with cerebral palsy. He now lives in Canada with his family and, although being described in court as a sociable and happy child, he suffers from a right-sided deficit.

Through his mother, the boy claimed compensation for an avoidable delayed birth. Acting on behalf of Sligo General Hospital, the Health Service Executive (HSE) was quick to acknowledge responsibility for the boy´s birth injuries and negotiations began to settle the claim.

During mediation, as well as discussing how much compensation for an avoidable delayed birth the boy was entitled to, senior HSE officials apologised to the family for the failings that led to the avoidable delay and explained how the failings happened.

It was agreed that the HSE should pay an interim €740,000 settlement of compensation to cover the costs of the boy´s past care and the care he will need over the next five years. As the claim was made on behalf of a child, it was presented to Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court for approval.

At the approval hearing, Judge Cross was told the circumstances of the boy´s birth and the details of the interim settlement of compensation. In addition to praising the boy´s parents for the care they had provided over the past six years, he also commented of the HSE´s cooperation in resolving the claim.

Saying that an apology and an explanation was “absolutely something to be encouraged”, Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of compensation for an avoidable delayed birth and adjourned the case for five years to allow reports to be compiled on the boy´s future needs.

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Compensation for the Failure to Perform a Timely C-Section Approved in Court

A €1.35 million interim settlement of compensation for the failure to perform a timely C-Section operation has been approved in the High Court.          

The claim for the failure to perform a timely C-Section operation was made on behalf of a boy from Bantry in County Cork, who was born at the Cork University Maternity Hospital in March 2010 after an alleged failure to correctly interpret a CTG scan showing that the child was suffering foetal distress.

As a result of the alleged hospital negligence, there was a failure to perform a Caesarean Section operation in a timely manner, which ultimately led to the child suffering hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy in the womb and being born with brain damage.

Now six years of age, the boy is blind cannot speak, suffers seizures every day and requires around-the-clock care. He is looked after at home by his parents and their extended families – and he also receives support from the Jack and Jill Foundation.

The boy´s mother claimed compensation for the failure to perform a timely C-Section from the Health Service Executive (HSE), who denied the claims, but who agreed to a €1.35 million interim settlement without an admission of liability while reports were being compiled into the boy´s future needs.

At the approval hearing at the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard how it had been an ordeal for the family to get compensation for the failure to perform a timely C-Section and the family was relieved that the legal process was all over. The judge approved the interim settlement and adjourned the case for three years, wishing the family all the best for the future.

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Claim for the Failure to Diagnose Vasa Praevia Complications Heard at Court

The High Court has approved a €1.98 million interim settlement of compensation after hearing a claim for the failure to diagnose vasa praevia complications.

In October 2010, a mother from Midleton in County Cork gave birth to twin boys by emergency Caesarean Section at Cork University Maternity Hospital. One of the twins was born in good health, while the second was delivered in a poor condition due to suffering foetal distress in the womb. He was subsequently diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.

On her son´s behalf, the woman made a claim for the failure to diagnose vasa praevia complications during her pregnancy – a scenario in which the foetal blood vessels cross or run near the internal opening of the uterus – alleging that scans conducted the previous June and September revealed a low-lying placenta.

The Cork University Maternity Hospital and Health Service Executive (HSE) denied the allegations, stating that it was not normal practice to conduct further investigations to identify or eliminate the risk of vasa praevia complications. However, an interim settlement of compensation was agreed without an admission of liability.

As the claim for the failure to diagnose vasa praevia complications had been made on behalf of a child, the interim settlement of compensation had to be approved by a court to ensure it was in the boy´s best interests. The approval hearing took place earlier this week, when the court was told about the circumstances leading up to the boy´s birth and the alleged failure to exercise reasonable care at the antenatal stage of the pregnancy.

The court also heard how, in 2014, the boy – now six years of age – had won a National Children of Courage Award, and that last year his family and friends raised funds so that the boy could be flown to Missouri for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery. Since the surgery the boy has been able to walk for the first time, but he still needs concentrated physiotherapy, speech, language and occupational therapy.

The High Court approved the interim settlement of the claim for the failure to diagnose vasa praevia complications and adjourned the case for five years. In five years´ time, more will be known about the boy´s future needs, and the family will have the options of a further interim settlement or a lump sum settlement if a system of periodic compensation payments is not yet put in place.

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Settlement of Claim against the HSE for a Mismanaged Birth Approved at the High Court

The €98,000 settlement of a claim against the HSE for a mismanaged birth has been approved at the High Court despite the HSE failing to admit liability.

The claim against the HSE for a mismanaged birth was made by a couple from Ballyneety in County Limerick following the death of their daughter six hours after she had been born at the Limerick Regional Maternity Hospital.

The couple alleged that their daughter had been born in good health on July 15, 2010 but, due to a serious of negligent actions by hospital staff, the child suffered a severe loss of blood that was not detected in a timely manner and died.

The claim against the HSE for a mismanaged birth alleged that, after her birth, the baby was lifted above the level of the placenta to untangle her from the umbilical cord and there was a failure to clamp the cord in a timely and effective manner – thus causing the severe loss of blood.

The HSE denied the allegations and presented an alternate version of the facts. Although failing to admit liability, an offer of settlement was made of €98,000 to account for the couple´s emotional trauma and nervous shock on learning of the death of their child.

At the hearing to approve the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told a dispute existed around how the baby had been lifted so the umbilical cord could be cut. He heard that the child later became floppy and collapsed – dying six hours and thirteen minutes after her birth.

During the approval hearing a statement of regret was read to the family be a representative of the HSE, after which Judge Cross approved the settlement of the claim against the HSE for a mismanaged birth and extended his sympathy to the family for their loss.

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Negligent Spine Surgery Compensation Claim Resolved with Approval of €7.1 Million Settlement

A negligent spine surgery compensation claim, made on behalf of a former barrister, has been resolved with the approval of a €7.1 million settlement.

The claimant – a 46-year-old former barrister – attended the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry, Dublin, for elective routine cervical spine surgery in 2014 after complaining of ongoing back pain. Although the surgery itself was successful, a failure to properly manage his levels of anaesthetic during his recovery resulted in the claimant suffering a hypoxic brain injury.

Due to being starved of oxygen during his recovery from the surgery, the claimant needs now twenty-four hour care. The former barrister can react to the presence of his family and smile at his two children, but he cannot communicate his needs or when he is in pain. He is currently being cared for in a care home, but the long-term plan is for him to be cared for at the family home in Clonee, County Meath.

On her husband´s behalf, the former barrister´s wife made a negligent spine surgery compensation claim against anaesthetist Deirdre Lohan. Liability was not admitted until last month, when a settlement of €7.1 million was agreed. As the negligent spine surgery compensation claim had been made on behalf of a claimant unable to represent themselves, the settlement had to be approved by a judge.

The approval hearing took place at the High Court, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that the claimant´s care had been paid for to date by a trust sent up by friends and colleagues shortly after his injury. He also heard that the claimant´s wife was happy to accept the offer of settlement on her husband´s behalf because the litigation process had been distressing for her and she wanted it finished.

Judge Cross approved the settlement of the negligent spine surgery compensation claim, sympathising with the family for the “terrible tragedy” they had suffered.

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Judge Approves Interim Compensation for a Brain Injury due to a Hospital Misdiagnosis

A judge has approved a €2.5 million interim settlement of compensation for a brain injury due to a hospital misdiagnosis in favour of a six-year-old boy.

On 24th August 2012, the parents of Eoghan Keating took their son to the A&E Department of Waterford Regional Hospital as he had developed a rash and was suffering from a fever. Eoghan was diagnosed with mumps and discharged with his parents being told to give him ibuprofen and Carpol.

During the night, Eoghan´s condition deteriorated. He became lethargic and a swelling in his neck increased in size, causing his concerned parents to call the caredoc GP service. The caredoc service advised Eoghan´s parents to take their son back to Waterford Regional Hospital.

On his return to the hospital, Eoghan was correctly diagnosed as having a chicken pox infection. He was intubated and ventilated before later being transferred to a hospital in Dublin. Tragically, the failure to correctly diagnose chicken pox and treat his infection with antibiotics on his first visit to hospital resulted in Eoghan suffering a brain injury due to which he is now tetraplegic and unable to talk.

Through his mother – Martina Keating of Upper Dunhill in County Waterford – Eoghan claimed compensation for a brain injury due to a hospital misdiagnosis against the Health Service Executive (HSE). In the legal action, it was claimed that there had been a failure to admit Eoghan when his parents first took him to the A&E Department, and a failure to identify the signs of a significant evolving infection.

After an investigation into the allegations, liability for Eoghan´s condition was admitted by the HSE and a €2.5 million interim settlement of compensation for a brain injury due to a hospital misdiagnosis was agreed. As the claim had been made on behalf of a child, the settlement first had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in Eoghan´s best interests.

Consequently the circumstances leading up to Eoghan´s brain injury and its consequences were related to Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court. At the hearing, the General Manager of Waterford Regional Hospital – Richard Dooley – read an apology to the family for the “deficiencies in care provided to Eoghan”, while the little boy´s mother told Judge Cross “We grieve every day for the life Eoghan has lost”.

The judge approved the interim settlement of compensation for a brain injury due to a hospital misdiagnosis and adjourned the case for two years. In two years´ time, the family will have a further interim settlement of compensation approved unless a system of periodic payments has been introduced by the Irish government in the meantime.

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Man Settles Claim for Falling from a Hospital Trolley

A man, who allegedly suffered a back injury while in the care of the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, has settled his claim for falling from a hospital trolley.

In September 2015, Anthony Whelan (64) – a caretaker from Tallaght in Dublin – attended the Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Tallaght complaining of a severe post-operative pain. It was decided to admit Anthony overnight in order to conduct a second operative procedure the following morning.

Anthony was put onto a hospital trolley to be transported to a ward. When no bed could be found to accommodate him, Anthony was moved into the corridor near a nursing station on the hospital trolley and screens placed around him so that he could get some rest.

While Anthony slept, he fell from the trolley – hitting his back against the base of the screens as he landed on the floor. An x-ray failed to reveal any injury to Anthony´s back, lungs or chest, but he was given a painkilling injection and moved to a private room.

After undergoing treatment to resolve his initial complaint, Anthony sought legal advice and made a claim for falling from a hospital trolley against the Adelaide and Meath Hospital. In his claim, Anthony alleged that he had not received appropriate management and care.

The hospital acknowledged that Anthony had fallen from a hospital trolley due to negligence, but disputed the extent of his injury and the amount of injury compensation he was claiming. Consequently the case was scheduled to be heard at the Circuit Civil Court for the assessment of damages only.

However, soon after the hearing had commenced, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was informed that the two parties had come to an agreement on a settlement of the claim for falling from a hospital trolley. The judge was told that the settlement was within the jurisdiction of the District Court and that costs had also been agreed between the two parties.

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Health Minister Announces Review of Medical Negligence Claims Process

Simon Harris has announced that one of the roles of the new National Patient Safety Office will be to review the current medical negligence claims process.

The Health Minister announced the establishment of the National Patient Safety Office while addressing delegates at a patient safety conference in Dublin on Monday. Mr Harris said that, under the auspices of the Department of Justice and Equality, the new Office would “lead a program of significant patient safety measures”.

Among its roles, the National Patient Safety Office will be responsible for establishing a national patient advocacy service, the introduction of a patient safety surveillance system and the setting up of a national advisory council for patient safety. It has also been charged with conducting a review of the medical negligence claims process.

The review of the medical negligence claims process is hoped to progress the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill – a bill that proposes the open disclosure of adverse medical events to patients and their families. Although the HSE produced national guidelines for open disclosure in 2013, subsequent events have demonstrated that the guidelines are not being applied in Irish hospitals.

Patient safety campaigners and leading legal figures have been seeking a review of the medical negligence claims process for years. They claim that without a statutory duty of candour, any new medical negligence claims process is unworkable and criticise former Health Minister Leo Varadkar for missing an opportunity to enforce open disclosure in the Civil Liberty (Amendment) Bill 2015.

Other proposals in the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill include preventing the unauthorised disclosure of patient health information, using modern technology to facilitate the safe exchange of healthcare data, and extending the Health Information and Quality Authority´s (HIQA´s) remit to private health service providers. Unfortunately the measures are unlikely to be introduced until the EU´s revision of its data protection regulations are finalised.

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Settlement of Compensation for Scarring due to Hospital Negligence Approved at Court

A High Court judge has approved a €100,000 settlement of compensation for scarring due to hospital negligence at a hearing of the High Court in Dublin.

Ann Ryan from Rathdrum in County Wicklow gave birth to her second daughter at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin on 19th October 2012 – just twenty-five weeks into her pregnancy. Baby Sophia was transferred to the Special Care Unit, where catheters were inserted to help with her feeding and administer medication.

The areas of Sophia´s skin surrounding the catheters were cleaned with chlorhexidine rather than the usual sepsis-preventing povidone-iodine. This action was undertaken as part of the National Children´s Research Centre´s “SKA trial” – a trial that Ann had agreed to take part in provided that Sophia did not experience any discomfort or side effects.

However, the morning after her transfer to the Special Care Unit, nurses noticed redness and ulcerations on Sophia´s back. The condition was diagnosed as being an adverse reaction to the antisepsis treatment and, because Sophia was in distress from the pain, she was administered morphine intravenously and Fucidim – a cream used to prevent bacterial skin infections – was applied to her skin.

As the condition failed to improve, the Fucidim treatment was discontinued the following day and an alternate cream applied – Duoderm. The redness and ulcerations began to fade, but Sophia has been left with discoloured skin on her back and a scar that was diagnosed in May 2014 as being consistent with a chemical burn.

Through her father – Tom – Sophia claimed compensation for scarring due to hospital negligence; alleging that the Holles Street hospital had been negligent in her treatment. It was also alleged that, due to the discolouration of the skin on her back, Sophia will likely require a skin graft in the future.

The hospital offered to settle the claim without an admission of liability for €100,000 and, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Richard Humphries was given the details of the settlement offer along with a synopsis of Sophia´s treatment after her premature birth. The judge approved the settlement of compensation for scarring due to hospital negligence and also ordered that the hospital pay the Ryan´s legal costs.

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Interim Settlement of Compensation Claim against the Portiuncula Hospital Approved

The interim settlement of a child´s compensation claim against the Portiuncula Hospital and HSE has been approved by Mr Justice Cross at the High Court.

On 3rd August 2012, eleven-month old Eoghan Dunne from Tullamore in County Offaly was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe suffering from a high heart rate and severe respiratory distress. Due to the severity of his condition, Eoghan was transferred twelve hours later to the Temple Street Children´s Hospital in Dublin.

At the Temple Street Hospital, Eoghan suffered a cardiac arrest due to septic shock. He suffered brain damage due to a lack of oxygen, and now suffers from epilepsy, is visually impaired and cannot walk or talk. Eoghan spent six months in hospital being treated for his condition, but will need twenty-four hour care for the rest of his life.

A review of the treatment Eoghan received at the Portiuncula Hospital revealed a catalogue of inadequacies. Allegedly the hospital was ill-prepared for Eoghan´s admission, had failed to administer antibiotics in breach of the HSE´s guidelines for the treatment of sepsis, and had taken too long to arrange the transfer to Temple Street Hospital due to a lack of “competent staff”.

Eoghan´s parents – Ronan and Teresa – sought legal advice and made a compensation claim against the Portiuncula Hospital and HSE, alleging that their son would not have suffered such devastating injuries had it not been for a failure in the hospitals´ duty of care. The HSE denied liability for Eoghan´s injuries, and a court hearing was scheduled for earlier this week.

However, with a few days to go until the hearing was due to start, the HSE accepted that mistakes had been made in Eoghan´s care and an interim settlement of the compensation claim against the Portiuncula Hospital was agreed. As the claim had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in Eoghan´s best interests.

At the approval hearing, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the circumstances of Eoghan´s admission into the Portiuncula Hospital and the subsequent events that had occurred. The judge commented that, if liability had been admitted at an earlier stage, Eoghan could have received therapy and treatment for his injuries at “a vital developmental stage” rather than much later.

The judge approved the interim €2.4 million settlement of the compensation claim against the Portiuncula Hospital, and adjourned the case for four years – by which time a review of Eoghan´s future needs will have been conducted. In 2020, the family will have the option of taking a lump sum compensation payment if a system of periodic payments has not been introduced.

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Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Failing to Diagnose a Hearing Impairment

A €340,000 settlement of compensation for failing to diagnose a hearing impairment has been approved by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court in Cork.

Clodagh Enright from Knocknagoshel in County Tipperary was just four years old in April 2006 when her parents expressed concerns about her speech to the local health nurse. The nurse referred Clodagh to the audiology department of her local hospital, where she underwent a hearing test.

The test failed to identify any problems with Clodagh´s hearing, but her parents´ concerns continued. In May 2007, a second hearing test was arranged that revealed Clodagh had a significant hearing impairment. Clodagh subsequently underwent a cochlear implant and had hearing aids fitted to help improve her hearing.

After receiving a medical opinion that Clodagh´s hearing would not have deteriorated to such a degree if the impediment had been diagnosed after the first test, Clodagh´s mother – Eileen – claimed compensation for failing to diagnose a hearing impairment against the Health Service Executive (HSE) on her daughter´s behalf.

It was alleged in the legal action that Clodagh´s education had suffered because of the hearing impediment. The HSE admitted liability for the misdiagnosis and a €340,000 settlement of compensation for failing to diagnose a hearing impairment was agreed. However, as the claim had been made on behalf of a child, the settlement had to be approved by a judge.

Consequently, at the approval hearing at the High Court in Cork, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told about the two hearing tests and the consequences of the misdiagnosis on the first one. After hearing that Clodagh had received extra tuition to help her catch up with her education, Judge Cross approved the settlement – ordering that it be paid into court funds until Clodagh becomes a legal adult in four years.

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Settlement Approved in Claim for Medical Negligence at the Midwestern Regional Maternity Hospital

A €1.75 million interim settlement of a claim for medical negligence at the Midwestern Regional Maternity Hospital has been approved at the High Court.

The claim for medical negligence at the Midwestern Regional Maternity Hospital in Limerick was brought by two-year-old Charlie Enright, whose mother Catriona was admitted to the hospital on August 19th 2013, thirty-seven weeks pregnant with her son.

After tests were conducted on Catriona, doctors made the decision to induce labour and administered Syntocinon. However, despite the well-chronicled side effects of Syntocinon, there was a failure to adequately monitor Catriona´s condition as Charlie suffered hyper-stimulation in the womb.

Due to the misinterpretation of a cardiotocography trace and the belated recognition of foetal distress, Charlie was born “flat” the following morning – unable to breathe by himself. The new-born child was transferred to Cork University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an intra-cranial haemorrhage underwent therapeutic hypothermia treatment on his head.

Despite the rapid action to prevent brain damage after his birth, Charlie is permanently disabled due to the lack of care his mother received prior to his delivery. On her son´s behalf, Catriona made a claim for medical negligence at the Midwestern Regional Maternity Hospital against the Health Service Executive (HSE) – who, after an investigation into the claim, admitted liability for Charlie´s birth injuries.

Negotiations started to settle the claim for medical negligence at the Midwestern Regional Maternity Hospital; but, as Charlie´s future needs are not yet determined, a €1.75 million interim settlement of the claim was agreed to cover Charlie´s care and medical expenses for the next two years. To ensure that the interim settlement was appropriate, an approval hearing was scheduled for the High Court.

At the approval hearing, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said that the interim settlement was a very good one. He approved the interim settlement and adjourned the hearing for two years, by which time Charlie´s future needs should have been determined and his mother will have the option of accepting a lump sum or assuring Charlie´s future care through a system of periodic payments.

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Compensation for a Cardiac Arrest due to Medical Negligence Approved at Court

A settlement of compensation for a cardiac arrest due to medical negligence has been approved at the High Court in favour of a woman in a vegetative state.

On 1st November 2010, Pauline Carroll from Mountmellick in County Laois attended the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore for a consult on the progress of her cancer treatment. Pauline (65) had undergone surgery on a tumour earlier in the year and, since August 2010, had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

However, rather than see a doctor first, Pauline was immediately started on another session of chemotherapy. When the doctor saw Pauline an hour later, he said that the treatment should not have been started because her white cell count was 1.07, whereas it should have been at least 1.5 before undergoing a further course of chemotherapy.

Two days later, on 3rd November 2010, Pauline suffered a cardiac arrest at her home. She was taken to hospital where she suffered a second cardiac arrest, causing her to suffer brain damage. Pauline is now in a permanent vegetative state and is cared for around the clock in a specialist nursing home.

On his wife´s behalf, Kevin Carroll claimed compensation for a cardiac arrest due to medical negligence – alleging that the treatment should not have been administered before Pauline had seen the doctor, particularly when it was known that she had suffered cardiac pain three months earlier and the chemotherapy drugs she had been treated with were cardiotoxic.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) denied liability for Pauline´s injury – arguing that there was no connection between the administration of the chemotherapy and Pauline´s cardiac arrest and brain damage. However, at the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that the HSE had agreed to a settlement of compensation for a cardiac arrest due to medical negligence without an admission of liability.

According to details of the settlement, Pauline will receive €975,000 compensation for a cardiac arrest due to medical negligence and the state will pay for her care for as long as she lives. Judge Cross approved the settlement, commenting it was a “very good legal outcome for what has been an unfortunate and tragic outcome”.

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High Court Hears Claim for the Missed Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

The High Court has heard the details of a claim for the missed diagnosis of breast cancer, made by a woman who underwent an allegedly unnecessary mastectomy.

Retired schoolteacher Eileen Fennessy (69) made the claim for the missed diagnosis of breast cancer after the “Breast Check” National Breast Screening Programme allegedly overlooked potential signs of cancer in a mammogram taken on 25th November 2011.

Eileen – from Piltown in County Kilkenny – was diagnosed with breast cancer the following year after her GP had discovered a large mass in her right breast. She was referred to Waterford Regional Hospital, where an ultrasound and biopsy confirmed the presence of a grade 2 carcinoma.

A course of chemotherapy was initiated straight away, but the treatment failed to reduce the size of the carcinoma and Eileen underwent a right side mastectomy in April 2013. Subsequent to the surgery, Eileen sought legal advice and made a claim for the missed diagnosis of breast cancer.

In her legal action against the Health Service Executive (HSE) – who oversee the “Breast Check” screening programme – Eileen alleged that the chemotherapy treatment and mastectomy would have been unnecessary if the correct diagnose of her condition had been made in 2011.

At the High Court, Eileen´s barrister told Mr Justice Kevin Cross that the mammogram taken in November 2011 should have raised suspicions of cancer and Eileen should have recalled for a further investigation. The failure to conduct a further investigation – it was alleged – exposed Eileen to an unnecessary risk of the cancer deteriorating.

Judge Cross also heard that, although Eileen is cancer free following the treatment she underwent, the underlying diagnosis for her future is “extremely serious and devastating”. The HSE denies the allegations and is contesting the claim for the missed diagnosis of breast cancer. The case continues at the High Court tomorrow.

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Final Settlement of Cerebral Palsy Compensation Approved at Court

A €5.56 million final settlement of cerebral palsy compensation has been approved in favour of a girl who suffered brain damage due to her delayed delivery.

On 11th October 1999, Mary Malee was born at the Mayo General Hospital by emergency Caesarean section after becoming distressed in the womb. As there was no consultant being available to assist with the delivery, Mary´s birth was delayed by eighty minutes. Mary was deprived of oxygen during the avoidable delay and sustained brain damage – due to which she now suffers from cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair.

On her daughter´s behalf, Maura Malee from Swinford, County Mayo claimed a settlement of cerebral palsy compensation from Mayo General Hospital. In her legal action, Maura alleged that there had been a failure by the hospital to ensure a consultant was available once a deceleration of the foetal heart rate had been identified. The hospital´s negligence – Maura alleged – had led to the failure to deliver Mary in a timely manner.

In early 2014, an interim settlement of cerebral palsy compensation amounting to €1.5 million was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. Judge Irvine then adjourned the case for two years to allow time for a system of periodic payments to be introduced. As no such system has yet been introduced, Mary and her parents returned to the High Court last week to attend a hearing to approve a €5.56 final settlement of cerebral palsy compensation.

At the hearing before Mr Justice Peter Kelly, the court heard a statement read to Mary in which representatives of the Mayo General Hospital apologised 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”. The judge approved the final settlement of cerebral palsy compensation – describing Mary as “heroic” for the challenges she has overcome so far in her life.

After her final settlement of cerebral palsy compensation had been approved, Mary 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”.

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Final Settlement of Compensation for the Failure to Refer Approved in Court

A final settlement of compensation for the failure to refer a pregnant mother with an alarming rise in blood antibodies has been approved in the High Court.

Isabelle “Izzy” Sheehan was born on 29th November 2004 in the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in Cork suffering from severe spastic quadriparetic cerebral palsy. One month before her birth, a blood test on Isabelle´s mother – Catherine – had revealed an “alarming rise” in blood antibodies that presented a risk of injury to the unborn child; however, consultant obstetrician Dr David Corr had failed to refer Catherine to specialist in foetal medicine.

Now eleven years of age, and despite being described as “bright and intelligent”, Isabelle has difficulty in communicating. Isabelle has a specially-equipped machine that helps her to walk and she attends a Gaelscoil near her home in Mallow in County Cork where she has learned a few words in Irish, but she will required full-time care for the rest of her life.

Liability for Isabelle´s tragic condition was admitted by Dr Corr after Catherine had claimed compensation for the failure to refer her to a specialist. The consultant obstetrician said he “very much regrets the outcome in relation to Isabelle´s birth” during a hearing to approve an initial interim settlement of compensation in October 2011.

A second interim settlement of compensation for the failure to refer was approved in 2013 and – due for a further interim settlement of compensation – Isabelle´s mother asked for a final lump sum payment in order to avoid the disruption to Isabelle´s life in the weeks leading up to each assessment of her needs.

The request for a lump sum payment was granted and, approving the final settlement of €9 million compensation for the failure to refer Catherine to a specialist, High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly said it was a fair and reasonable settlement and underscored the necessity for the introduction of a periodic payments scheme.

Agreeing it was understandable that Isabelle’s parents were weary with interim settlements, Mr Justice Kelly paid tribute to Catherine and Colm Sheehan – saying that Isabelle would not have made the progress she had without the “truly remarkable” love, care and attention they have lavished on her.

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Claim for an Undiagnosed Intra Cerebral Subarachnoid Haemorrhage Resolved in Court

A claim for an undiagnosed intra cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage has been resolved in court with the approval of a €2.7 million compensation settlement.

Paula Dundon (42) – a mother of three from Brownstown in County Kildare – attended the Naas General Hospital on 26th June 2006, complaining of severe headaches, nausea and vomiting. Paula was admitted to the hospital and administered painkillers. She later underwent a CT scan on her brain.

Doctors at the hospital failed to identify what was causing Paula to suffer such severe headaches and a second scan was conducted on 29th June. The second scan showed a large intra cerebral bleed on the left side of her brain and Paula was transferred to the Beaumont Hospital.

Further investigation at the Beaumont Hospital revealed an intra cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage; however, due to the passage of time between attending Naas General Hospital and her injury being diagnosed, Paula suffered brain damage and she now requires around the clock care.

Paula´s husband – Michael – made a claim for an undiagnosed intra cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage, alleging that the delayed in diagnosing his wife´s injury could have been avoided and was attributable to hospital negligence. He claimed that an adequate assessment and prompt diagnosis would have mitigated the level of injury Paula sustained.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) contested the element of the claim for an undiagnosed intra cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage relating to the failure to adequately assess Paula, but admitted that there had been a failure to diagnose within an appropriate timeframe.

A €2.7 million settlement of the claim for an undiagnosed intra cerebral subarachnoid haemorrhage was agreed. However, as the claim had been made on behalf of Paula, the settlement had to be approved by a judge. The approval hearing took place earlier this week at the High Court before Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who – after hearing the circumstances of the case – approved the settlement and congratulated Michael for the care he had given to Paula over the past ten years.

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Compensation for the Failure to Identify Organ Failure Approved at High Court Hearing

An interim settlement of compensation for the failure to identify organ failure has been approved in favour of a man who has been in a coma since 2011.

In October 2011, Robert Bolton (71) had an operation at St James Hospital in Dublin to treat an oesophagus condition. The operation was initially considered to be successful. However, the morning after the operation, James suffered a heart attack due to a respiratory failure.

Robert was transferred to the intensive care unit of the hospital, where his condition deteriorated. Due to suffering from sepsis, Robert suffered a hypoxic ischaemic brain injury – leaving him in a coma from which he occasionally regains minimal consciousness.

Robert´s wife – Angela – had a solicitor investigate the standard of care Robert had received after his operation and during his stay in the intensive care unit. She subsequently claimed compensation for the failure to identify organ failure – alleging that the hospital had failed to diagnose Robert´s sepsis or met the generally accepted criteria for systemic inflammatory response.

The claim for compensation for the failure to identify organ failure was contested by the hospital, although there was a partial admission of liability in respect of the general level of care that had been provided for Robert.

An interim settlement of compensation for the failure to identify organ failure amounting to €550,000 was negotiated – an amount that should provide the twenty-four hour specialist care that Robert needs for the next two years.

As the claim had been made on behalf of a plaintiff unable to represent themselves, an approval hearing was scheduled at the High Court. At the hearing, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the circumstances of Robert´s heart attack, the alleged failings by the hospital, and the impact the alleged hospital negligence had on Robert´s wife and family.

Angela told Judge Cross that no amount of money would compensate for her husband´s condition, but the family was happy that Robert´s care would be provided for. The judge then approved the interim settlement of compensation for the failure to identify organ failure – commenting that the settlement was clearly the result of hard bargaining, and wishing Angela and her family all the best for the future.

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Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for the Failure to Diagnose Hydrocephalus

Mr Justice Kevin Cross has approved a €1.9 million settlement of compensation for the failure to diagnose hydrocephalus in favour of an eight-year-old boy.

Joe Keegan-Grant was born on 17th January 2008 at the Mount Carmel Hospital by emergency Caesarean Section. The emergency procedure had been ordered by doctors wary of applying any pressure to an arachnoid cyst that had been revealed at the base of Joe´s skull during a pre-natal scan.

Despite the presence of the cyst, Joe was discharged from hospital a few days later. Over the course of the next few months, Joe was regularly assessed by public health nurses and paediatrician Dr Vladka Vilimkova. However, despite concerns about his delayed development, neither the public health nurses nor Dr Vilimkova identified that Joe´s head was growing too quickly for his age.

It was only in October 2008 – when Joe had been taken to his family´s new GP in Creggs, County Roscommon, suffering with a chest infection – was any comment made about the size of Joe´s head. Joe was referred to the Crumlin Hospital, where he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus – a condition that is known to be a consequence of an arachnoid cyst, and that can cause developmental delay and autism.

Through his mother, Patricia, Joe claimed compensation for the failure to diagnose hydrocephalus – alleging that both the public health nurses and Dr Vilimkova failed to plot Joe´s head circumference on a chart or exchange information about Joe´s developmental delay. The HSE denied liability, but made the family an offer of compensation for the failure to diagnose hydrocephalus amounting to €1.9 million.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard that, although there was evidence to support the claim for compensation for the failure to diagnose hydrocephalus, the HSE had opposing evidence that disputed the link between the failure to diagnose hydrocephalus, developmental delay and autism. With there being a dispute over liability and causation, the court was asked to approve the settlement.

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.” Judge Cross also heard that, despite his autism, Joe was doing well at a mainstream school but he will never be able to care for himself, get a job or lead an independent life.

Judge Cross said in the circumstances it would be prudent to approve the settlement of compensation for the failure to diagnose hydrocephalus. The judge noted there was a risk that, should the case go to a full hearing, Joe might be unsuccessful with his claim against the HSE. The judge approved the settlement and closed the hearing after wishing Joe and his parents all the best for the future.

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Court Approves Settlement of Compensation for a Delayed C-Section Birth

The High Court has approved a €3 million interim settlement of compensation for a delayed C-Section birth in favour of an eleven-year boy.

Mohammad Daud Assad was born on 20 February 2004 at the Rotunda Hospital by emergency Caesarean Section after a deterioration in the foetal heart rate had been recorded. Due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb, Mohammad needed resuscitating after his birth.

During his foetal distress, Mohammad sustained severe brain damage. Suffering from cerebral palsy, Mohammad has both mental and physical disabilities and is unable to speak. Due to his birth injury, Mohammad will need full-time care for the remainder of his life.

On her son´s behalf, Alia Muryem Assad claimed compensation for a delayed C-Section birth against the Rotunda Hospital – alleging that the reduction of the foetal heart rate had been identified hours before Mohammad´s delivery, but the hospital failed to summon an obstetrician in a timely manner.

It was also alleged that had been a failure by the hospital to properly assess Alia and consider a failing of the placental function after she attended the hospital ten days overdue at 9:00am in the morning. Mohammad was not delivered until 10:30pm that evening.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the Rotunda Hospital had only acknowledged liability for failings in Alia´s care two weeks ago. He also heard that an interim settlement of €3 million compensation for a delayed C-Section birth had been agreed.

After hearing that Mohammad attended mainstream school and enjoyed music, Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of compensation for a delayed C-Section birth. The judge commented that the way in which Mohammad´s family had rallied round to help his parents “restored one´s faith in humanity” before adjourning the case for six years – when an assessment of Mohammad´s future needs will be conducted.

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Liability Admitted by HSE in Claim for Inappropriate Cancer Treatment

The HSE has admitted liability in a claim for inappropriate cancer treatment, which will now be assessed by the High Court for an award of compensation.

In July 2010, Kevin McMahon (then fifty-eight years old) visited his GP with a hoarse voice. Kevin was referred to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick where doctors identified a lesion on the left side of his vocal chords and a biopsy was taken.

As there were concerns that the lesion was cancerous, Kevin was scheduled to have a second biopsy in October. The October appointment was subsequently cancelled and Kevin from Roxboro in County Limerick was not seen again until January 2011.

On the re-scheduled appointment the cancer was confirmed. Kevin was told he would have to have an urgent operation and later that month he underwent a fourteen-hour procedure to have his larynx removed. Kevin now has to speak through an artificial voice box.

Kevin later found out that the cancer could have been treated with targeted radiotherapy. After seeking legal advice, he made a claim for inappropriate cancer treatment against the Mid-Western Regional Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In the claim for inappropriate cancer treatment, Kevin alleged that there had been a failure to discuss the options available to him. As a consequence Kevin had been unable to give his informed consent for the removal of his larynx to take place.

It was also claimed that the delay in seeing him after the first biopsy had allowed the preventable development of the cancer and that, as a result of the hospital’s negligence, he had suffered significant and avoidable damage and distress.

The HSE declined to accept liability for Kevin’s unnecessary injuries until Tuesday this week – the day before his claim for inappropriate cancer treatment was scheduled to be heard in the High Court. The hearing has gone ahead but, rather than determine liability, Mr Justice Kevin Cross will be asked to assess how much compensation for inappropriate cancer treatment Kevin is entitled to.

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Judge Awards Compensation for a Swab Left Inside during Childbirth

A judge at the High Court has awarded €117,000 compensation for a swab left inside during childbirth to a mother who subsequently developed an infection.

Sarah Daly from Rathfarnham in Dublin gave birth to a healthy child at the Mount Carmel Hospital on April 22nd 2013. The event should have been a very happy experience for Sarah and her husband but, on April 25th, Sarah returned to the hospital complaining of extreme pain in her lower abdomen.

Despite Sarah having recently given birth, medical professionals at the Mount Carmel Hospital failed to conduct an internal investigation until April 28th. The investigation revealed the presence of a retained swab that had swollen to the “size of a plum”.

The swab left inside of Sarah was removed; but, due to a failure to prescribe her with antibiotics, Sarah developed an infection. After she recovered, Sarah sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a swab left inside during childbirth against her consultant doctor Valerie Donnelly and attending physician Charles Julian Dockeray.

The two defendants acknowledged liability for the Sarah´s injuries, but a settlement of compensation for a swab left inside during childbirth could not be agreed. Consequently, the case went to the High Court for the assessment of damages, where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the High Court, Judge Cross awarded Sarah €117,000 compensation for a swab left inside during childbirth. The judge commented he believed the award to be “fair and reasonable” because 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.

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Settlements of Compensation for Negligent Care at a Crèche Approved in Court

Twenty-two settlements of compensation for negligent care at a crèche have been approved at the High Court. The settlements amounting to more than €1 million.

In May 2013, RTÉ broadcast a documentary – “Breach of Trust” – after an investigation into the Links Abington Creche in Malahide, Dublin. The documentary revealed a poor standard of care at the crèche, with several recorded incidents of physical and verbal abuse against the pre-school children in the creche´s care.

Following the broadcast, the parents of twenty-two of the children sought legal advice and claimed compensation for negligent care at a crèche on behalf of their children against Links crèche Southside Ltd, Links crèche Montessori Ltd, and the owners of the Abington crèche – Padraig and Deidre Kelly. The parents also compensation claims for the mental stress they had suffered.

The defendants entered a defence against the claims for compensation; but, at the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard that the parents´ compensation claims for mental stress had been settled out-of-court, and that offers of compensation for negligent care at a crèche had been made in respect of the children´s claims without an admission of liability.

The offers of settlement were divided into three categories. Children who had been physically or verbally abused during the broadcast of the documentary were offered up to €75,000. Children who had been in the vicinity of those who had been abused were offered lesser amounts, while those who were present at the time of the alleged abuse, but not shown in the broadcast, were offered amounts of compensation for negligent care at a crèche starting from €40,000.

Judge Cross was told that many of the children had developed “behavioural difficulties” – especially around nappy changing time – prior to being removed from the crèche by their parents. The barrister representing the children told the judge that none of the children appear to have suffered any long-term consequences due to the alleged negligence. The judge than approved the offers of compensation for negligent care at a crèche.

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HSE Open Disclosure Policy Not Being Applied Claims Examiner

The Irish Examiner has published an Op-Ed in which it is claimed the HSE open disclosure policy has a long way to go before being put into practice.

The HSE open disclosure policy of communicating to patients and their families when “things go wrong” with the standard of healthcare delivered to them has been in force since November 2013. Yet, according to an editorial opinion published in the Irish Examiner, although the policy is good in theory, it is not being put into practise in Ireland´s hospitals.

The author of the Op-Ed, Catherine Shanahan, supports her claim that the HSE open disclosure policy is not being applied with details of seven high profile medical negligence claims from 2015. These cases demonstrate how the Health Service Executive is failing to own up to mistakes and forcing patients families to go to court to get the truth about the standard of care they received.

The case of Gill Russell is possibly the one most people will remember because of the subsequent actions of the State Claims Agency. Gill was born in 2006 suffering from cerebral palsy after a “prolonged and totally chaotic” delivery during which he was starved of oxygen in the womb. It was not until 2012 that the family received an apology from the HSE and an interim settlement of compensation was approved.

Due to the fact that no system of periodic payments has been introduced, Gill´s family returned to the High Court in December 2014 and were awarded a €13.5 million lump sum settlement – the largest ever award of compensation for cerebral palsy. The State Claims Agency appealed the value of the settlement and, in November 2014, the appeal was rejected. Yet the State Claims Agency plans to take the case to the Supreme Court – depriving Gill´s family of much needed funds to pay for his care.

Other cases used as examples that the HSE open disclosure policy is not being applied included the case of Skye Worthington, whose family waited almost four years before receiving an apology for their daughter´s mismanaged birth, and Katie Manton – another little girl who suffers from cerebral palsy due to a mismanaged birth. In Katie´s case, her parents waited four years for an admission of liability and seven years for an apology. The apology was described as “too little, too late” by Katie´s father.

Throughout the remaining examples in Ms Shanahan´s article, it becomes abundantly clear that the HSE open disclosure policy is not being applied and the volume of money devising the policy and distributing booklets to patients and medical professionals has just been another huge Health Service waste at the expense of the taxpayer.

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Couple Awarded Medical Negligence Compensation for the Death of a Baby

A couple have been awarded €70,000 medical negligence compensation for the death of a baby son after an approval hearing at the High Court.

Fiona Watters was admitted into the Cavan General Hospital on 20th November 2012 in the later stages of her first pregnancy. Fiona´s waters broke at 10:30am on the morning of 22nd November and she was administered Prostiglandin to accelerate her labour.

During the day the levels of Prostiglandin were increased. At 9:30pm that evening a natural birth was attempted but, after an hour of pushing, the midwife rang consultant obstetrician Dr Salah Aziz to inform him that the baby´s head was not visible and the indications were that the baby was suffering foetal distress.

Dr Aziz arrived at the Labour Ward to discover that another Caesarean Section operation was taking place in the only out-of-hours theatre. He attempted both a forceps delivery and a vacuum delivery – both of which failed. When the theatre became available, Fiona underwent an emergency Caesarean Section operation, but her son – Jamie – was delivered in a very poor condition.

Jamie was transferred to the special care baby unit at the Rotunda Hospital, where he tragically died two days later in his mother´s arms. An initial investigation into the cause of Jamie´s death was quashed by the High Court in August 2013 after Dr Aziz successfully argued that HSE investigators had not followed the correct procedures.

However Fiona and her partner – Francis Flynn – had already received an advanced copy of the report and, after seeking legal advice, they claimed medical negligence compensation for the death of a baby against Cavan General Hospital and the HSE.

The HSE failed to acknowledge liability for Jamie´s death until almost a year later and only then commissioned a second investigation into the events leading up to Jamie´s delivery. However, this time the investigation was to be carried out by an independent review team following the subsequent deaths of two more children at the Cavan General Hospital.

In December 2014, an inquest into Jamie´s death attributed it to medical misadventure. The coroner said that the increased administration of Prostiglandin, Dr Aziz´s failure to inform the registrar that the Jamie´s delivery was expected that evening and the lack of a second out-of-hours theatre at the hospital were all causative events for Jamie´s death.

Following the coroner´s verdict, negotiations started with the State Claims Agency to settle the claim for medical negligence compensation for the death of a baby. Due to the traumatic circumstances leading up to Jamie´s birth and the protracted investigations into Jamie´s death, a settlement of €70,000 was agreed.

Earlier this week a hearing at the High Court took place to approve the settlement. Mr Justice Richard Humphreys heard that the size of the settlement reflected the long-lasting grief and distress that had been suffered by Jamie´s parents. Judge Humphreys approved the settlement, stipulating that €5,000 of the settlement should be paid into court funds for the benefit of Fiona and Francis´ daughter.

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Widow to Receive Compensation for the Failure to Diagnose Meningitis after Hearing

A widow, who was told her husband was suffering from constipation, is to receive compensation for the failure to diagnose meningitis following his death.

On 26th May 2010, Philip Morrissey (39) from Kilkenny attended his GP complaining of a high temperature, a headache and earache. He was referred to the Accident & Emergency department of St Luke´s Hospital in Kilkenny, where he was admitted with a high pulse rate and complaining of an intolerance to light.

Six hours after being admitted, Philip appeared to his wife – Gail – to be disorientated and drowsy. She raised her concerns with medical staff and was told that his condition was attributable to constipation. However, the following morning Philip was found slumped in his bed having suffered a cardiac arrest. His cardiac arrest was later identified as having been triggered by streptococcal pneumonia meningitis.

After seeking legal advice, Gail claimed compensation for the failure to diagnose meningitis against the Health Service Executive (HSE). She alleged that Philip had not been seen by a doctor since 3:40pm on the day prior to his death, and that there had been a failure to consider his symptoms attributable to meningitis, to correctly diagnose his condition and treat it.

Following an investigation into the circumstances of Philip´s death, the HSE admitted liability and a settlement of Gail´s claim was negotiated amounting to €455,000. Due to the nature of Philip´s death, the settlement of compensation for the failure to diagnose meningitis had to be approved, and consequently the case was presented to Mr Justice Michael Hanna at the High Court.

After the judge heard the circumstances of Philip´s death, a statement was read out to the family by a representative of the HSE apologising for the standard of care Philip had received. Judge Hanna then approved the settlement of compensation for the failure to diagnose meningitis – commenting that a “huge tragedy” had befallen the family and, while money could never compensate for Philip´s loss, it was the best the law could do.

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Award of High Court Compensation for Cerebral Palsy Upheld on Appeal

An award of High Court compensation for cerebral palsy has been upheld on appeal, but the case may still have to go before the Supreme Court to be resolved.

On 12th July 2006, Gill Russell from Aghada in County Cork was born suffering from dyskinetic cerebral palsy following a “prolonged and totally chaotic” delivery at the Erinville Hospital. On her son´s behalf, Karen Russell made a medical negligence compensation claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and, after liability had been admitted, Gill was awarded an interim settlement of High Court compensation for cerebral palsy.

In December 2014, the medical negligence compensation claim against the HSE was resolved €13.5 million – the largest ever award of High Court compensation for cerebral palsy. The HSE appealed the settlement of the claim – arguing that Mr Justice Kevin Cross had used a lower rate of interest than was traditionally used in Irish courts to calculate the return to investment of the lump sum.

However, earlier this week at the Appeals Court, a three-judge panel upheld the settlement of High Court compensation for cerebral palsy. The judges said that using the higher rate of interest would result in a catastrophically injured person having to take “unjust and unacceptable” risks with the investment of the lump sum to ensure their financial security.

One of the three-judge panel – Ms Justice Mary Irvine – said it was not the courts´ function to decide how a claimant was likely to invest their award for the purposes of determining its value. She added that the Russell family and the HSE would not be in this position had the government not failed to introduce legislation that would permit structured periodic payments.

The decision of the Appeal Court judges is unlikely to resolve the medical negligence compensation claim against the HSE. Warning that the calculation of High Court compensation for cerebral palsy set a precedent that could cost the State Claims Agency and the insurance industry up to €10 billion over the next decade, the HSE has indicated that it will take the case to the Supreme Court.

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Judge Increases Award made by Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal

A High Court judge has increased an award made by the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal after hearing an appeal from a woman who developed encephalopathy.

The unnamed plaintiff was one of thousands of women who in 1977 were given an anti-D immunoglobulin blood transfusion infected with Hepatitis C. In 1998, the plaintiff had been awarded €298,000 by the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal, but she had returned to the Tribunal earlier this year, seeking more compensation after developing “life destroying” side effects of brain damage and cirrhosis of the liver.

The Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal awarded the plaintiff a further €180,000 but, on the basis that a previous case had been settled for €250,000 after a woman had developed similar injuries, the plaintiff appealed the decision to the High Court. The Minister for Health opposed the plaintiff´s appeal on the grounds that the case was different to the one in which the higher award was made.

The Minister of Health argued that the plaintiff received treatment for Hepatitis C before her condition was diagnosed. However, at the High Court, Mr Justice Bernard Barton heard that the plaintiff´s “decompensated cirrhosis” had been triggered by the ribavirin therapy she had undergone in 2013 to treat the Hepatitis C virus after tests revealed a serious deterioration of her liver.

The judge also heard that the plaintiff had developed encephalopathy as a result of her treatment – a side effect which manifests as slurred speech and forgetfulness, and which is irreversible and requires ongoing medical treatment to control its effects. The encephalopathy condition had resulted in severe mental anguish it was claimed.

Judge Barton found in the plaintiff´s favour – saying that the High Court had the jurisdiction to compensate the woman for the pain and suffering arising out of the treatment she underwent in 2013. The judge said that it was “only fair and reasonable” that the award by the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal be increased to €250,000 to reflect the full and independent life that the plaintiff could no longer lead.

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Claims for Negligent Hysterectomy Procedures made by Seven Patients

Seven former patients of a gynaecologist, recently found negligent by the Medical Council, have made claims for negligent hysterectomy procedures.

The claims for negligent hysterectomy procedures all relate to the treatment provided by Dr Peter Van Greene at the Aut Even private hospital in Kilkenny between 2009 and 2011, and were made prior to a hearing of the Medical Council´s Fitness to Practise Committee last week which found the gynaecologist guilty on two counts of a poor professional performance.

The complaints against Dr Van Greene were brought by Helen Cruise and three other women who remained anonymous – Helen having undergone a hysterectomy at the Kilkenny hospital without the gynaecologist having obtained her informed consent before the procedure. Helen claims that the standard of treatment she received has left her with depression ever since.

During the hearing of the Medical Council´s Fitness to Practise Committee, Helen testified that the procedure and the potential risks involved had only been explained to her after she had been administered a spinal anaesthetic. She also needed six units of blood due to excessive post-operative bleeding following her operation.

The Committee – that has the option of fining Dr Van Greene or striking him from the medical register – also heard that Dr Van Greene applied for bankruptcy in the UK earlier this year and is currently unemployed. He was most recently employed at the Whitfield Clinic in Waterford while investigations were ongoing into the allegations made by the four women.

Dr Van Greene´s bankrupt status will not prevent the seven former patients from recovering compensation if their claims for negligent hysterectomy procedures are successful. Any settlements of compensation will be paid by Dr Van Greene´s former medical indemnity insurance company.

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Hospital Dental Care Claims Disputed by Health Minister

The Health Minister has disputed hospital dental care claims that up to ten thousand children each year are having teeth unnecessarily extracted.

The hospital dental care claims were made at the annual seminar in Carlow for dentists working in the Health Service Executive, where delegates were told that cuts in free dental care in Ireland were to blame for an increase in chronic oral infections, which in turn resulted in ten thousand children under the age of fifteen having multiple extractions under anaesthetic in hospitals.

Speaking at the seminar, Anne Twomey – president of the Irish Dental Association (IDA) – said “ninety-five percent of these cases would have been avoidable if they had been detected and treated earlier.” She added that the cuts had resulted in less education about oral hygiene being available and the undermining of a highly effective schools screening service.

The IDA said that it warned the government five years ago about the impact of cuts to dental care in Ireland, and claim that the cost of the unnecessary extractions would ultimately be many multiples of the money that had been saved. The Association presented anecdotal evidence that children were being admitted to hospital for IV antibiotics to treat oral infections while they waited for hospital dental care.

However Health Minister Leo Varadkar has disputed the accuracy of the hospital dental care claims. The Minister told reporters that the figures he has seen indicate that 3,600 dental extractions under anaesthetic were conducted on children under the age of fifteen last year. He said “I think we need to know all the facts before jumping to conclusions”.

Mr Varadkar also disputed the accuracy of hospital dental care claims that suggested avoidable extractions were five times the rate of the UK. “The number of publicly-employed dentists has gone down from about 312 to 300 in the last couple of years”, he said, “so there hasn´t been a significant reduction in the number of publicly-employed dentists”.

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Family Make Claim for Wrongful Death due to Medical Misadventure

The family of a woman who died from organ failure after undergoing a hernia operation have made a claim for wrongful death due to medical misadventure.

On 13th July 2013, Susan McGee (52) – a mother of two from Rush in County Dublin – went to the Hermitage Medical Clinic in Dublin for what was supposed to be a routine hernia operation. The operation initially appeared to be successful, and Susan was discharged from the Hermitage three days later on 16th July to be cared for by her daughter.

The following day (17th July), Susan complained of having an abdominal pain and feeling unwell. Her daughter took her back to the Hermitage, where Susan was readmitted for observation. Over the weekend of 20th and 21st July, Susan´s condition deteriorated and on 22nd July a CT scan revealed a mass in her small bowel.

Susan underwent surgery the same day to have the obstruction removed, but her health continued to deteriorate. Susan was transferred to the intensive care department of the Beaumont Hospital on 23rd July, but she died the following day from multiple organ failure caused by sepsis – the sepsis having been triggered by a C.difficle infection.

The inquest into Susan´s death was eventually held in June 2015. Dublin City Coroner´s Court heard that several errors had been made in Susan´s care, including a failure to report brown faecal fluid draining from Susan´s nasogastric tube and a failure to record Susan´s vital signs between 8:00am and 6:00pm on Sunday 21st July – three days before she died.

The inquest also heard that over the weekend of 20th and 21st July only one resident medical officer was on duty – Dr Lachman Pahwani. Dr Pahwani testified that he had tried to spend as much time with Susan as possible – aware that she was in a poorly condition – but Susan was one of 81 patients that he had responsibility for at the medical facility at the time.

Following the inquest, Susan´s family sought legal advice and made a claim for wrongful death due to medical misadventure – the verdict that the inquest had delivered. A spokesperson for the family said that a summons has now been issued and served on the Hermitage Medical Clinic.

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Organisation Calls for more Openness in Hospital Negligence Claims

The Medical Injuries Alliance has repeated its call for “Duty of Candour” legislation so that there is more openness in hospital negligence claims.

The Medical Injuries Alliance is an organisation that works with patients injured by medical mistakes to get answers about how the injuries occurred. Among the organisation´s objectives is the promotion of studies that help to understand the why medical mistakes occur, so that safety improvements in Irish hospitals can be made.

In order to meet their objectives, the Alliance has repeatedly called for politicians to introduce “Duty of Candour” legislation – legislation that would promote openness in hospital negligence claims by forcing healthcare professionals and Irish hospitals to admit when medical mistakes have been made, to explain why they happened, and to issue an apology immediately.

The Alliance has already issued a statement on its website that “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 repeat its call for more openness in hospital negligence claims, the message has now been taken to the press.

Last week an article appeared in the Irish Times commenting on a cerebral palsy claim that took nine years to resolve due to a lack of openness in hospital negligence claims and alleged “stonewalling” by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The article concluded by saying that duty of candour laws were introduced in the UK last year, and that similar legislation is clearly needed in Ireland.

In response to that article, a letter from the Secretary of the Medical Injuries Alliance – Joice McCarthy – was published. In the letter, Ms McCarthy agreed with the comments within the article and made her own observations that many victims of hospital negligence are forced to take legal action to get the answers to the questions that healthcare professionals and hospitals are unwilling to give.

Ms McCarthy commented that patients who have been through the legal process describe it as a stressful and protracted experience, and she alluded to the recent “shabby episode” in which there was a disagreement between the HSE and the State Claims Agency about who was responsible for delays in settling a six-year 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”.

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HSE Medical Negligence Apology “Six Years Too Late”

The parents of a girl who died shortly after her birth have rejected the HSE medical negligence apology given at her inquest as being “six years too late”.

Caoimhe was born to Joan and John Mulcair at the Midland Regional Hospital in Limerick on 11th February 2009. Joan and John were overjoyed at the birth of a daughter that they had been trying to conceive for four years; but, soon after baby Caoimhe´s birth, it was noticed that she was not crying as new born babies should. Caoimhe was taken to the hospital´s special care unit, but died in her mother´s arms thirty-nine minutes after being born.

Joan and John made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Midland General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE), claiming that a failure to act on a deceleration in the foetal heart rate had resulted in Caoimhe´s brain being deprived of oxygen. The HSE denied that Caoimhe´s death was attributable to medical negligence until December last year, when the family´s claim for medical negligence compensation was settled for an undisclosed amount.

Last week, a jury at Limerick courthouse returned a verdict of death by medical misadventure after hearing that a deceleration of the foetal heartbeat had been recorded during Joan´s labour, and death was due to a lack of blood and oxygen supply to the brain. During the inquest hearing, Joan and John were read an HSE medical negligence apology by Collette Cowan, the chief executive of the Midland Regional Hospital.

However, after the inquest had concluded, John told reporters that he and his wife rejected the HSE medical negligence apology as it had come “six years too late”. John explained to reporters that there had been no HSE medical negligence apology during the time that the couple had been battling the HSE for compensation, and 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”.

A spokesperson for the HSE later said medical negligence claims were not handled by the HSE but by the State Claims Agency. However, the “passing of the buck” did not impress one Irish Times columnist, who described the treatment that Joan and John had received as a “shabby episode” and 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.”

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Compensation for Medical Negligence at Sligo General Hospital Approved at Court

A settlement of compensation for medical negligence at Sligo General Hospital has been approved at the High Court in favour of an eighteen year old man.

Thomas O´Connor was delivered at the Sligo General Hospital on September 6th 1996 by an emergency Caesarean Section after having been distressed in his mother´s womb. When he was born, Thomas showed no signs of life and was resuscitated with the assistance of a breathing tube.

According to his mother, both the delivery and resuscitation of her son was conducted negligently; and, due to the hospital´s alleged medical negligence, Thomas was twice deprived of oxygen. Due to the lack of oxygen, it was claimed, Thomas suffered terrible brain damage and he is now spastic quadriplegic, blind and fed through a tube.

On behalf of her son, Ann O´Connor of Collooney in County Sligo claimed compensation for medical negligence at Sligo General Hospital – alleging that Thomas´ delivery had been delayed unnecessarily for up to four hours, and that the breathing tube that had been used to resuscitate him had been inserted too deeply, contributing to a heart attack that Thomas had suffered on his way to the Intensive Care Unit.

The Health Service Executive denied liability for Thomas´ birth injuries, and contested the claim for compensation for medical negligence at Sligo General Hospital. However, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard expert witnesses testify that a CTG trace had been discontinued in the morning of Thomas´ birth despite there being clear evidence of foetal distress, and that the ventilation tube had been inserted at a depth of 14cms, whereas it should have been put in at between 9cms and 10cms.

Judge Cross was also told that a settlement of compensation for medical negligence at Sligo General Hospital had been agreed for €1.75 million without an admission of liability. The judge approved the settlement – saying that he was delighted that the ordeal was over for the O´Connor family and noting that much of the settlement will be used to pay for Thomas´ continued care at the residential home in Sligo.

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Settlement of Birth Injury Brain Damage Claim Delayed for 18 Days

The High Court has approved the €9 million settlement of a birth injury brain damage claim after negotiations continued for eighteen days into the hearing.

Alex Butler was born “blue and lifeless” at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005, after a locum covering for her mother´s consultant obstetrician failed to identify complications with the birth and avoidably delayed Alex´s delivery by ten minutes.

Due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb, Alex suffered severe brain damage. Although Alex is described as having a “bright personality with a huge intelligence”, she is tetraplegic, mostly confined to a wheelchair and will require permanent care for the rest of her life.

On her daughter´s behalf, Sonya Butler made a birth injury brain damage claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE acknowledged liability for Alex´s birth injuries in 2013 and an interim payment of compensation was made in lieu of a structured settlement system being introduced.

The case was adjourned for two years to allow for the introduction of a structured compensation payment system, but with the necessary legislation not yet passed, the birth injury brain damage claim was heard again at the High Court by Mr Justice Anthony Barr.

The hearing commenced with Alex and her parents hearing an apology from a representative of Waterford Regional Hospital. Thereafter it deteriorated into a disagreement of how much compensation for her avoidable devastating injuries Alex was entitled to.

Negotiations continued for eighteen days until an agreement was reached. Approving the €9 million settlement of Alex´s birth injury brain damage claim, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said the settlement was reasonable and sensible – but, after the approval of the settlement, Alex´s parents said they were shocked that negotiations had taken so long.

Sonya Butler criticised the State Claims Agency´s approach to negotiations and told reporters “They fought tooth and nail. They basically want Alex to have an existence, not a life. They want her to scrape by with the bare minimum rather than her having the life that she should have had.”

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Woman Awarded €140,000 Compensation for Vaginal Swab Left behind after Birth of Child

A woman has been awarded €140,000 compensation for a vaginal swab left behind after the birth of her child that resulted in severe physical and emotional trauma.

On 24th December 2012, Claire Lalor from Swords in County Dublin gave birth at the National Maternity Hospital after a difficult labour. Claire was discharged three days later, but returned to the hospital on January 2nd and January 9th with concerns about a pain in her lower abdomen and an unpleasant smell coming from her vagina.

On neither visit to the hospital was Claire examined internally and, during her visit on 9th January, she was prescribed antibiotics to deal with a suspected infection. Claire continued to experience pain, while the unpleasant smell worsened. She returned to the hospital again on 16th January, and on this occasion it was discovered that a vaginal swab had been left inside of her after the birth of her child.

The swab was removed, but Claire continued to experience pain. She returned once more to the National Maternity Hospital on January 18th, but was discharged the same day after being diagnosed with post-natal depression. However, on her return home, Claire´s condition worsened and she started suffering from chills, sweating and diarrhoea.

Claire was taken to the Beaumont Hospital where she was diagnosed with C.difficile – a bacterial infection that had developed as a result of unnecessarily being prescribed antibiotics. Once she had recovered from the infection, she sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a vaginal swab left behind after the birth of her child.

The National Maternity Hospital acknowledged responsibility for the errors that had led to the pain Claire had experienced as a result of the swab being left inside of her, the unpleasant smell that had developed due to the hospital´s error, and the C.difficle infection that had developed due to being unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics.

However, the extent of Claire´s emotional trauma was contested. The hospital argued that the psychological injury she was claiming was attributable to post-natal depression rather than the consequences of the swab being left behind inside her. With no agreement over how much compensation for a vaginal swab left behind after the birth of her child Claire was entitled to, the case went to the High Court for the assessment of damages where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the hearing, Judge Cross agreed with the National Maternity Hospital that the difficult labour prior to the birth of Claire´s child made it more likely that she might suffer from post-natal depression, and that her continuing symptoms of emotion trauma may have had some origin in her underlying disposition.

However, Judge Cross said that were it not for the negligent post-natal care that Claire had received, she would have recovered from any post-natal depression quicker and was “entirely appropriately extremely distressed” by the episode relating to the swab. The judge awarded Claire €140,000 compensation for a vaginal swab left behind after the birth of her child, commenting that he believed she was a truthful witness when giving her evidence.

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Judge Calls for Structured Payment Systems for Hospital Negligence Compensation Settlements

A High Court judge has called for the introduction of structured payment systems for hospital negligence compensation settlements.

Over the years, a number of high-profile High Court judges have commented that legislation needs to be passed to enable structured payment systems for hospital negligence compensation settlements. Mr Justice John Quirke, Ms Justice Mary Irvine and Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O´Neill have previously said that settlements of hospital negligence compensation can be a lottery when they are awarded on the basis of the anticipated life expectancy of a catastrophically injured plaintiff.

Last month another high-profile High Court judge, Mr Justice Bernard Barton, added his voice to those calling for structured payments systems for hospital negligence compensation settlements when presiding over O’Neill vs National Maternity Hospital – a case in which the National Maternity Hospital wants to make an interim settlement of compensation, but the “next friend” of the plaintiff wants a full settlement.

The case revolves around a young girl, who was born at the National Maternity Hospital in 2007 suffering from cerebral palsy due to hospital negligence. Although liability has been admitted by the National Maternity Hospital, the case was before Judge Barton because the two parties cannot agree on how much hospital negligence the child is entitled to.

There are considerable differences of opinion between how much should be awarded for the girl´s future needs and future loss of earnings, and the National Maternity Hospital proposed an interim settlement of compensation with a review to be conducted over the next ten years to obtain a more accurate settlement figure. The girl´s “next friend” (her mother) declined the interim settlement on the grounds of the potential psychological harm she might suffer during ten years of assessments.

Both parties – and Judge Barton – agree that if structured payments systems for hospital negligence compensation settlements were introduced, it would be a far better way to resolve disputes over how much compensation a catastrophically injured plaintiff should receive. The negotiations continue under the watchful eye of Judge Barton, and it is hoped that an agreement settlement of hospital negligence compensation can be reached in the near future.

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Claim for the Inappropriate Use of Syntocinon Heard in Court

The High Court has heard details of a claim for the inappropriate use of Syntocinon during labour, which resulted in a baby being born with kinetic cerebral palsy.

On 20th July 2007,Patrick Brannigan was born by emergency Caesarean Section at Cavan General Hospital after his mother had been administered Syntocinon to speed up her labour (you can read about the risks associated with Syntocinon here).

The synthetic drug was administered despite a CTG trace showing that Patrick was in distress in the womb and, rather than help facilitate his delivery, the Syntocinon had the effect of depriving Patrick of oxygen.

Patrick was born suffering from dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Now seven years of age, Patrick is confined to a wheelchair and has no means of communication. He is cared for full-time by his parents and will never be able to lead an independent life.

Through his mother – Niamh Brannigan of Castleblayeny, County Monaghan – Patrick made a claim for the inappropriate use of Syntocinon during his mother´s labour, alleging that medical staff at Cavan General Hospital mismanaged his birth.

Cavan General Hospital acknowledged that the drug should never have been administered when there were signs of foetal distress and apologised to the family. A €2.1 million interim settlement of Patrick´s claim for the inappropriate use of Syntocinon was agreed, subject to approval by a judge.

Earlier this week at the High Court in Dublin, the circumstances leading up to Patrick´s birth were related to Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Judge Cross heard that Patrick is a cheerful, good humoured boy before approving the interim settlement of compensation.

The judge then adjourned the claim for the inappropriate use of Syntocinon for three years in order that reports could be compiled into Patrick´s future needs. It is hoped that legislation is passed within the next three years in order that a periodic payment structure can be used to resolve Patrick´s claim for the inappropriate use of Syntocinon.

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Syntocinon Medical Negligence Claims a Concern for Experts

Experts from the State Claims Agency and the Rotunda Hospital have agreed that consistent guidelines are needed to reduce Syntocinon medical negligence claims.

Syntocinon is a brand name for oxytocin – a synthetic drug used prior to childbirth to induce labour or accelerate contractions. The benefits of Syntocinon are that they reduce the amount of time a mother is in labour and helps the womb to contract if a birth is necessary by Caesarean Section.

There are many risks involved with the use of Syntocinon; and, when the drug is administered, both mother and baby need monitoring to avert complications such as an adverse reaction or foetal distress. There are also many circumstances in which the administration of Syntocinon is dangerous to mother, baby or both.

Syntocinon is classified as a “high-alert medication” and has been attributed to the death of four babies at the Portlaoise Hospital due to inadequate monitoring. Syntocinin medical negligence claims have resulted from inadequate monitoring at other hospitals; and, in November 2013, a couple from Rathgar in Dublin were awarded €150,000 compensation for nervous shock after their baby died at the Rotunda Hospital.

When children have survived, but have been brain damaged during the delivery process, the settlement of medical negligence Syntocinon claims has been significantly higher. Jamie Patterson was awarded an interim settlement of €1.58 million compensation for cerebral palsy in May last year, while Skye Worthington´s €2.32 million interim settlement of cerebral palsy compensation was approved last February.

The State Claims Agency – the agency that pays settlements of medical negligence Syntocinon claims made against the HSE – recently commented on a report conducted on the use of Syntocinon in Irish hospitals. The report showed significant inconsistency in how the drug is administered – inconsistencies which, Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, Master of the Rotunda Hospital, described as “putting unborn children at unnecessary risk”.

The report revealed that maternity staff at one Irish hospital received no guidance on the use of Syntocinon – including the dosage that should be administered to expectant mothers – and that two maternity units provided no guidance on the monitoring of expectant mothers and their babies.

Mary Godfrey – the State Claims Agency´s clinical risk advisor – commented that the report showed the need for consistent guidelines to improve outcomes for mothers and babies, and to prevent Syntocinon medical negligence claims being made against the HSE.

Ms Godfrey´s comments were echoed by Dr Coulter-Smith who – speaking on Newstalk´s Lunchtime Show – said “The issue with each of the maternity units having their own rules on its use means doctors moving from one to another don’t have common set of guidelines to follow.”

What both medical experts failed to comment on was one alarming discovery in the report which read “No service obtains explicit written consent from women prior to starting them on the drug.” The State Claims Agency and Irish Hospitals will also have to address the issue of “informed consent” if they wish to see a reduction in Syntocinon medical negligence claims.

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HSE Found at Fault for Water on the Brain Injury to a Child

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has been found to be at fault for a water on the brain injury to a child after a three week hearing at the High Court.

When she was just three months old, Ava Kiernan started to develop the symptoms of hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”). Hydrocephalus is caused by spinal fluid “pooling” in the skull because it has failed to drain from the brain and is commonly diagnosed in children under the age of one year when a rapid expansion of the head´s circumference is identified.

Ava was examined by a public health nurse who measured her head in April 2008; however – despite the concern´s of her mother – the nurse failed to recall Ava for a second examination four weeks later, and a subsequent measurement of Ava´s head in September which could have identified water on the brain was performed incorrectly.

As a result of the nurse´s failure to act and the subsequent errors in her care, Ava has mental and physical disabilities which are likely to be permanent. Ava´s mother – Ruth Kiernan from Duleek in County Meath – made a claim for a water on the brain injury to a child on her daughter´s behalf, but the claim was contested by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the case was heard at the High Court by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

After a court case that lasted three weeks, Judge Cross found in Ava´s favour. He said that if Ava had been recalled four weeks after the initial head measurement in April 2008, or the subsequent measurement of her head in September had been conducted correctly, Ava´s hydrocephalus would have likely been identified and the little girl (now seven years of age) referred to a specialist.

The judge continued that the hydrocephalus condition could have then been confirmed by a scan and treated by a shunt. Had this course of action been followed, Judge Cross concluded, Ava´s brain damage would not have occurred. The judge said that the public health nurse´s failure to act was “materially causative” to Ava´s condition and he adjourned the claim for a water on the brain injury to a child so that an assessment could be carried out to determine an appropriate settlement of compensation.

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Claim for the Failure to Diagnose a Detached Retina Resolved Out of Court

A man´s claim for the failure to diagnose a detached retina has been settled out of court after the negligent optician agreed to an £80,000 settlement.

The man – identified only as “Mr B” – made his claim for the failure to diagnose a detached retina after visiting his optician due to experiencing a sudden blurring and distortion of vision in his right eye. As well as the blurring and distortion, he told his optician that his right eye was sensitive to light and causing him to feel dizzy.

An eye examination revealed a dense visual field defect but, rather than making an emergency referral to an ophthalmologist, the optician recommended a new pair of glasses. Mr B continued to experience the symptoms of a detached retina and attended his GP. The GP identified his condition as a medical emergency and referred him to an eye hospital.

At the eye hospital, the GP´s diagnosis of a detached retina was confirmed, and Mr B underwent scleral buckle surgery under general anaesthetic to have the condition resolved. Despite the surgery, Mr B continues to have poor vision in his right eye – a condition that would have been avoided if his detached retina had been correctly identified when he first visited his optician.

Mr B sought legal advice and made a claim for the failure to diagnose a detached retina against his optician – alleging that the optician´s negligence had not only caused him pain and suffering, but had also caused him to forgo his career. The claim consequently included compensation for a considerable loss of earnings.

After a period of negotiation, an out-of-court settlement of the claim was agreed. Under the agreed settlement Mr B will receive £80,000 compensation for the failure to diagnose a detached retina plus the negligent optician will cover his legal costs.

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High Court Approves Compensation for a Mismanaged Birth at Waterford Regional Hospital

The High Court has approved a €2 million interim settlement of compensation for a mismanaged birth at Waterford Regional Hospital in favour of a four-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.

On July 9th 2010, Kevin Dunphy-English from Mooncoin in County Kilkenny was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital “neurologically compromised”. Kevin spent twenty-four days in intensive care, has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and can only walk short distances. Doctors say that he will be reliant on a wheelchair when he grows older.

Through his mother – Jane – Kevin made a claim for compensation for a mismanaged birth at Waterford Regional Hospital. In the legal action against the Health Service Executive (HSE) it was noted that a foetal blood sample had been taken at 1:40am and that a deceleration of the foetal heart rate was recorded at 2:30am.

It was alleged that if a further foetal blood sample had been taken subsequent to the deceleration of the foetal heart rate, a decision would have been made to intervene in Kevin´s birth earlier. A subsequent investigation into Kevin´s birth found that his cerebral palsy injury could have been prevented if he had been delivered an hour earlier.

The HSE accepted that there had been a mismanagement of Kevin´s birth at the Waterford Regional Hospital by failing to deliver him in good time. The HSE conceded liability in Kevin´s claim and settled claims made for nervous shock by both of Kevin´s parents. The claim for the mismanaged birth at Waterford Regional Hospital then proceeded to the High Court for the assessment of damages.

Prior to the High Court hearing, Mr Justice Kevin Cross met with Kevin in his chambers. The judge was told that Kevin is doing well at pre-school and it is hoped he will be in a mainstream class when he goes to school full time. Judge Cross described Kevin as “a lovely little lad”, and he commended the efforts that the boy´s parents had put in to raising him.

Judge Cross awarded Kevin €2 million as an interim settlement of compensation for a mismanaged birth at Waterford Regional Hospital, and adjourned the case for five years so that an assessment of Kevin´s future needs can be conducted. Once the assessment is completed, Kevin´s parents will have the choice of a lump sum settlement or a structured settlement if legislation is passed in time to allow for periodic payments.

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Claim for an Erb´s Palsy Injury due to Hospital Negligence Resolved in Court

An eleven-year-old girl´s claim for an Erb´s Palsy injury due to hospital negligence has been resolved in court without an admission of liability from the National Maternity Hospital.

Keelan Murray was born at the National Maternity Hospital in January 2004 after being diagnosed with shoulder dystocia during her delivery – an emergency condition in which the shoulders fail to clear the pubic symphysis.

Shoulder dystocia can result in brachial plexus nerve damage if excessive force is used to free the shoulders, and although damaged brachial plexus nerves can heal themselves over a period of time, in Keelan´s case, the injury was permanent.

Now eleven years old, Keelan from Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow, does not have full control over her right arm and has had to adapt to use her left arm for many ordinary tasks. She has also had to learn how to write using her left hand.

Keelan underwent surgery in 2012 to repair the nerve damage, but the operation was unsuccessful. Through her mother – Sharon – Keelan made a claim for an Erb´s Palsy injury due to hospital negligence alleging that traction had been used facilitate her delivery despite the diagnosis of shoulder dystocia.

The National Maternity Hospital denied liability for Keelan´s injury but a settlement of Keelan´s claim for an Erb´s Palsy injury due to hospital negligence amounting to €250,000 was negotiated without an admission of liability.

As Keelan is still a legal minor, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a judge before the case could be closed, and consequently Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told about the circumstances of Keelan´s birth and the failed operation at a High Court hearing.

The judge heard that Keelan is a bright young girl who participates in sports activities in spite of her disability and he said that it would be prudent to accept the settlement of compensation without an admission of liability. Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the settlement and wished Keelan well for the future.

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MPS Suggests Protocol to Lower Costs of Hospital Negligence Claims in Ireland

The Medical Protection Society has suggested that solicitors trial a “pre-action protocol” which is aimed at lowering the costs of hospital negligence claims in Ireland.

Because of the significant expenses involved in bringing legal action against the HSE, the costs of hospital negligence claims can be exceptional. The Medical Protection Society – a non-profit organisation that provides legal assistance to the medical industry – acknowledges this, and has proposed a “pre-trial protocol” which aims to lower the costs of hospital negligence claims in Ireland.

The suggested protocol is intended to promote openness and transparency in communications between solicitors acting on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants, and provide an opportunity for hospital negligence claims to be investigated and resolved before litigation is necessary.

In England and Wales financial penalties are imposed on solicitors who go straight to litigation without first attempting some form of mediation; but, if the MPS´s proposals are successful, penalties should not be necessary when the improved dialogue should lower the costs of hospital negligence claims in Ireland by creating a less adversarial process.

The MPS´s Director of Claims – Emma Hallinan – is proposing that the protocol be trialled voluntarily before legislation has to be introduced for solicitors to engage at an early stage. She said “We recognise the important role that the MPS must play, and have committed to trialling procedural reform before it is introduced in statute. We are in the process of writing to plaintiff lawyers with large medical negligence practices to request that they work with us to pilot this.”

Among the MPS´s proposals, a tariff of general damages would be introduced – similar to the Judicial College´s “Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases” in the UK – which would provide a scale of compensation awards for specific physical injuries caused by hospital negligence ranging from dental damage to catastrophic brain injuries.

Other general damages (for loss of amenity and emotional trauma) as well as special damages to replace lost income and expenses would still have to be resolved by negotiation; however many observers looking at the proposals are in agreement that the MPS is heading in the right direction to lower the costs of hospital negligence claims in Ireland.

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Court Approves Third Interim Settlement of Claim for Birth Injuries Compensation for 19-Year-Old

A third interim settlement of a claim for birth injuries compensation has been approved at the High Court after a judge refused a request for a final payment to be made.

Nineteen-year-old Connor Corroon from Mallow in County Cork was born on February 6th 1995 at the Cork City General Hospital having been starved of oxygen in the womb. As a result of the hospital´s negligence, Connor now suffers from cerebral palsy and is permanently disabled.

On her son´s behalf Judith Corroon made a claim for birth injuries compensation against the hospital and, in 2010, Connor became the first plaintiff to be awarded an interim settlement of compensation instead of a lump sum payment pending legislation to introduce a system of periodic payments.

Connor received a second interim settlement of his claim for birth injuries last year and was due to receive a third interim settlement as legislation for periodic payments is yet to be introduced. On Connor´s behalf, Judith requested that this third payment be a final lump sum settlement her son has to undergo a series of assessments prior to the interim settlements being approved.

At the High Court, Judith told Mr Justice Bernard Barton that she wanted Connor to be able to get on with his life and not have it constantly interrupted for assessments by different experts. She felt that Connor was “in a fishbowl” each time experts came to assess his needs and said that she was hoping Connor would be able to go to college despite his disability.

However Judge Barton denied Judith´s request for a lump sum payment; stating that were he to approve a full and final payment and the funds ran out later in Connor´s life, it would be catastrophic for Connor. The judge approved a third interim settlement of Connor´s claim for birth injuries compensation – explaining that he had recently received a consultation paper relating to the proposed Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill.

The Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill is an act of legislation proposed by the Department of Justice that aims to introduce a system of periodic payments next year. The judge said that a periodic payment system would be in Connor´s best interests, and he adjourned the hearing for a further five years.

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Mistreatment of Care Home Residents Investigated by HSE

The mistreatment of care home residents at a County Mayo care centre is being investigated by the Health Service Executive after claims of abuse were made in an RTÉ documentary.

The documentary concerning the standards of care at the Áras Attracta care centre in Swinford, County Mayo, was broadcast last week on RTÉ´s Primetime program. The documentary was built around video footage which had been recorded by an undercover investigator, and which showed staff at the centre slapping, kicking, and physically restraining residents with intellectual disabilities.

Allegations of the mistreatment of the care home residents had been brought to the attention of RTÉ by a former employee after her complaints to the centre´s management were unresolved. The undercover investigator filmed the mistreated of care home residents in Unit Three of Áras Attracta – a bungalow that is home to three women – which included the women being force-fed, abused and restrained in their chairs for hours at a time.

RTÉ contacted the Health Service Executive (HSE) prior to the broadcast of the program to advise the body ultimately responsible for the standard of care at the centre of what was to be shown. A spokesperson for the HSE described the mistreatment of care home residents as “totally unacceptable” and immediately launched an investigation.

 The director general of the HSE, Tony O’Brien, said in a statement: “Much of what was viewed on Primetime falls well below the standards that we expect in the health services. Such standards should not and will not be tolerated in the HSE.” He added: “At the centre of many of these examples of poor practice is individual responsibility of staff members.” Several staff have subsequently been suspended, and the HSE has informed the Gardaí and the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) of the lack of care at Áras Attracta.

The HSE also apologised to the residents of Áras Attracta and their families for the mistreatment of care home residents that had taken place. The apology stated that the HSE did not wish to “pre-empt the findings of an independent investigation” but that it has taken several immediate actions to “guarantee that a safe and caring environment exists for the residents of Unit Three”.

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Government Launch Scheme for Women to Claim Symphysiotomy Compensation

The government has launched a scheme for women to claim symphysiotomy compensation for operations conducted without their consent or knowledge between the 1940s and the 1980s.

Almost twelve months after the government performed a U-turn on extending the Statute of Limitations in order that women who had undergone symphysiotomies and pubiotomies during childbirth could claim symphysiotomy compensation, a new scheme has been launched to compensate the estimated 350 survivors of the procedures.

The new scheme to claim symphysiotomy compensation consists of a three-tier program which will pay compensation to the survivors depending on the level of injury they sustained:

  • Women who underwent a symphysiotomy and did not suffer any long term consequences are entitled to claim €50,000.
  • Women who suffered a recorded disability as the result of a symphysiotomy operation will be able to recover €100,000
  • Women who underwent a symphysiotomy subsequent to giving birth by Caesarean Section are entitled to €150,000

Maureen Harding-Clark – a former High Court Judge – has been appointed to consider each claim and, to qualify to claim symphysiotomy compensation, survivors have to submit their application for compensation before Friday 5th December. Judge Harding has the authority to extend the deadline by a further 20 working days in exceptional circumstances.

Once a claim for symphysiotomy compensation has been considered and valued, survivors have twenty days in which to accept Judge Harding´s assessment. However, under the terms of the compensation scheme, in order to receive the payment, the plaintiff must withdraw from any High Court action against the state that is in progress.

Currently there are more than 150 High Court actions in progress and, according to Marie O’Connor – chairwoman of Survivors of Symphysiotomy group – dates for two hearings have already been set. Ms O´Connor is unhappy with the new scheme to claim symphysiotomy compensation and says that the short time limit for applications makes it “impossible for women to seek independent advice and to make a considered decision”.

There has also been opposition to the scheme from Mark Kelly – the Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. Mr Kelly says that the scheme falls short of what is required under Ireland´s human rights obligations on two counts – that it does not address compensation on an individual basis, and that payments made under the scheme are made without admission of liability by the state.

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Interim Payment of Compensation for Birth Injuries at Waterford Regional Hospital Approved in Court

A High Court judge has approved a €2 million interim payment of compensation for the family of a child who suffered birth injuries at the Waterford Regional Hospital due to the negligence of medical staff.

In January 2010,Dylan Kenny was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital after an avoidable delay in his delivery which left him deprived of oxygen in the womb. Dylan now suffers from cerebral palsy, has difficulty communicating and is unable to walk independently.

On behalf of their son, Dylan´s parents – Claire O´Brien and Lloyd Kenny -made a compensation claim for birth injuries against the Waterford Regional Hospital, alleging that there had been a failure to monitor Dylan´s foetal heart rate during Claire´s labour or act within a reasonable time to signs of foetal distress and hypoxia.

It was claimed that Dylan´s birth injuries would not have been so severe had medical staff at the Waterford Regional Hospital been more diligent and, in June this year, the Health Service Executive (HSE) admitted that errors had been made in the management of Claire´s labour, acknowledged liability for Dylan´s birth injuries and issued the family with an apology.

Mr Justice John Cook at the High Court was told that the case was before him for the approval of a €2 million interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries at Waterford Regional Hospital, and heard that the interim settlement was to provide care for Dylan for the next three years.

Within the next three years, an assessment will be carried out on Dylan´s future needs and a further interim payment of compensation for birth injuries at Waterford Regional Hospital will be applied for if a structured compensation scheme has not been introduced.

After hearing that Dylan´s parents were satisfied with the interim payment, and preferred it to the lump sum settlement requested by the State Claims Agency, Judge Cook approved the interim payment and adjourned the case.

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Woman Allowed to Claim Compensation for the Failure to Identify Side Effects of Medication

A County Cork woman has been given permission by a High Court judge to claim compensation for the failure to identify the side effects of medication prescribed for her seventeen years ago.  

Forty-three year old Lorna Savage was given permission to claim compensation for the failure to identify the side effects of medication after an attempt to dismiss her claim by Pfizer was denied by a judge at the High Court.

Lorna had originally been prescribed the steroid Deltacortril when she was twenty-seven years old in 1997, in order to treat the condition vasculitis – a skin disorder in which damaged blood vessels cluster together to form an irritable and unsightly rash on the surface of the skin.

After taking Deltacortril for a prolonged period of time, Lorna developed Avascular Necrosis – a known but uncommon side effect of the steroid – a condition which prevents blood from reaching bones (usually the hip and knee joints) with the resulting effect that the bone tissue dies and the bone eventually collapses.

By the time Lorna was thirty one years old, she had undergone surgery to have and one hip and both knees replaced, and her condition had deteriorated to such an extent that she was confined to a wheelchair and regularly taking morphine to control the pain.

Lorna made a claim for compensation for the failure to identify the side effects of the medication against her GP – Dr. Michael Madigan – and her consultant doctor at Cork University Hospital – Dr. M Molloy.

In her legal action against her GP, Lorna alleged that Dr. Madigan had not investigated her vasculitis condition fully and had negligently prescribed the steroid Deltacortril when he was (or should have been) knowledgeable of the possible side effects.

She also claimed that her consultant – Dr. Molloy – had continued to prescribe Deltacortril after Dr. Madigan´s death (in 1999) and that he had failed to identify the side effects of the medication despite her deteriorating condition.

Lorna also included the pharmaceutical company Pfizer in her claim for compensation for the failure to identify the side effects of medication – alleging that Pfizer had neglected to include a warning on the literature accompanying the Deltacortril tablets that continued use of the steroids could cause Avascular Necrosis. Lorna also claimed that the company was negligent for failing to advise against the risks of drinking alcohol while taking the tablets.

Dr. Madigan´s estate, the HSE (on behalf of the Cork University Hospital and Dr. Molloy) and Pfizer each denied that they had been negligent. Pfizer applied to have Lorna´s claim for compensation for the failure to identify the side effects of medication dismissed on the grounds that there had been an “inexcusable delay” in bringing the case to court.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Mr Justice George Birmingham ruled that the delay was “excusable” on the grounds that the delay in bringing the case to court had been caused by Lorna having to undergo several more operations recently.

This, the judge said, had prevented Lorna from instructing her solicitors, and was a reasonably valid excuse. The judge denied Pfizer´s application to dismiss the case – stating that Lorna´s claim for compensation for the failure to identify the side effects of medication would be listed for a full court hearing later in the year.

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Settlements of Hospital Negligence Compensation in Ireland could be Delayed due to New Benefit Recovery Scheme

Settlements of hospital negligence compensation in Ireland could be delayed by up to 3 months following the implementation of the Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme.

The Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme is a new initiative that was introduced last week (on Friday 1st) that will enable the Department of Social Protection to recover welfare benefits paid to recipients of hospital negligence compensation in cases where the benefits relate directly to the plaintiff´s injuries.

Although likely to only affect the most seriously injured victims of hospital negligence, once a settlement of compensation is agreed, insurance companies (or the State Claims Agency) will have to apply to the Department of Social Protection for a statement showing the value of the qualifying welfare payments paid to the plaintiff over the previous five years.

The insurance company will then deduct the amount of the welfare payments from settlements of hospital negligence compensation, send the repayment of the welfare benefits to the Department of Social Protection, and send the balance of the compensation settlement to the plaintiff. The potential for delayed settlements is due to the procedures that are involved:

The Department of Social Protection has 4 weeks in which to send the insurance company the statement of benefits; after which the insurance company must submit the repayment of welfare benefits to the Department and wait for a certificate of repayment to be received before sending the balance of the compensation settlement to the injured plaintiff. Depending on the efficiency of the Department and the insurance company, settlements of hospital negligence compensation could be delayed by up to three months.

Plaintiffs waiting for settlements of hospital negligence compensation should note that the repayment of any welfare benefits you may have received is not your responsibility.

Potential plaintiffs considering making a claim for hospital negligence compensation should note that the receipt of welfare benefits does not disqualify you from claiming compensation.

The benefits to which the new rules apply are:

  •  Illness Benefit
  • Partial Capacity Benefit
  • Injury Benefit
  • Incapacity Supplement
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Disability Allowance

If you are unsure about the new procedures relating to settlements of hospital negligence compensation, how to check any welfare deductions from your compensation settlement are accurate – and the appeals procedure if they are incorrect – it is recommended that you consult with a medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible.

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Widower´s Compensation Claim for Delayed Operation Resolved for €165,000 after High Court Hearing

A widower´s compensation claim for a delayed operation which led to the death of his wife has been resolved after a hearing at the High Court.

Patrick Malone form Carlow City brought his compensation claim for a delayed operation following the events which led to the death of his wife – Helen (60) – at St Luke´s General Hospital on 12th January 2006.

Helen had been referred to the hospital for a bowel condition that required surgery, but the operation was delayed on several occasions while Helen “languished in pain”. Eventually the surgery was performed, but four days later Helen died.

An inquest into Helen´s death revealed that she died due to systemic sepsis and multiple organ failure brought on by a perforated bowel and that had Helen undergone surgery sooner, the likelihood was that she would have survived.

Patrick initiated a claim for compensation for the delayed operation causing his wife´s death, but despite the Irish Medical Council finding consultant doctor George Nessim guilty on four charges of professional misconduct, the HSE refused to accept liability.

The case was scheduled to be heard in court, but shortly before the first court date, the HSE acknowledged responsibility for Helen´s death due to a delayed operation, and a settlement of €165,000 was negotiated for the mental anguish that Patrick and his six children had suffered due to Helen´s untimely death.

Prior to the claim being concluded, the settlement had to be approved by a judge, and – after five postponements – the circumstances of Helen´s death were related to Mr Justice Ryan and an apology read to the family by a representative of St Luke´s Hospital, in which it was acknowledged that the standard of care Helen received was sub-standard and led to a series of events which caused her death.

After hearing the apology read out in court, Judge Ryan approved the compensation settlement – noting that it did not include aggravated damages and commending both parties for settling “a difficult, painful and tragic case”.

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Interim Settlement of Compensation for Failing to Act on CTG Readings Approved in Court

A judge has approved a second interim settlement of compensation for failing to act on CTG readings in favour of a boy who suffers from cerebral palsy due to being starved of oxygen in the womb.

Eight-year-old Luke Miggin from Athboy in County Meath was born at the Mullingar General Hospital in February 2006 after having been starved of oxygen in the womb due to his mother´s obstetric consultant – Mr Michael Gannon – failing to act on CTG readings which indicated a deceleration of the foetal heartbeat.

After he was born, Luke was resuscitated and transferred to a special care baby unit, but he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and now needs 24/7 specialist care as he is unable to walk or take care of his personal needs.

Luke´s mother – Emily Miggin – made a claim for compensation for failing to act on CTG readings against Gannon and the Health Service Executive, and in 2010 liability was admitted for Luke´s injuries. An initial interim settlement of compensation was approved by Mr Justice John Quirke, who adjourned the case for three years to allow time for legislation to pass which would allow for a more suitable structured settlement.

Unfortunately such legislation has not yet been introduced and, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was critical of former Ministers of Justice for failing to deliver on their promises of periodic payments for victims of catastrophic medical negligence. Judge Irvine said that the lack of a structured settlement system prevented families such as the Miggins from being able to get on with their lives when there was ongoing litigation.

The judge approved a second interim settlement of compensation for failing to act on CTG readings and adjourned Luke´s case for a further three years when his needs will be re-assessed and  a structured settlement system might be in place.

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High Court Clears Widower´s Claim for Death due to Hospital Negligence

A High Court judge has cleared the path for a widower to proceed with a claim for death due to hospital negligence, after the HSE asked for the claim to be dismissed because it had been made too late.

Joseph Hewitt made his claim for a death due to hospital negligence in January 2012 – nineteen months after his wife – Dolores – had passed away from liver cancer. Dolores had previously recovered from breast cancer in 2001, and was undergoing monitoring when, in February 2007, an ultrasound scan detected two cancerous lesions on her liver.

Nothing was done by the hospital at the time, and it was only after Dolores had told a surgeon about the lesions five months later that further scans were ordered. The new ultrasounds discovered that further lesions had developed on Dolores´ liver and she started a second fight against cancer. Unfortunately the cancer in her liver had progressed too far, and Dolores died in June 2010.

Joseph made a claim for death due to hospital negligence against the Health Service Executive (HSE) – alleging in his action that Our Lady´s Hospital had failed to act on Dolores´ February 2007 scan results within a reasonable period of time, and that prompt action would have avoided her wrongful death.

The HSE contested the compensation claim for a death due to hospital negligence on the grounds that Joseph´s allegations were based on Dolores´ treatment in 2007, and that a claim made in 2012 was beyond the two-year Statute of Limitations established by the Civil Liability Act of 1961.

The HSE applied for the hospital negligence compensation claim against Our Lady´s Hospital to be dismissed, but Joseph´s legal representative opposed the application and the case for dismissal was brought before Ms Justice Marie Baker at the High Court.

The judge ruled that the HSE was correct that allowed time period had expired for claiming compensation for hospital negligence that allegedly occurred in 2007; but Joseph was within the period of time allowed by the Statute of Limitations to make a claim for a death due to hospital negligence as Dolores had died just 19 months before the claim was filed.

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Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Apologises for Wrongful Death due to Failing to Diagnose Cancer

A family has received an apology from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda for a wrongful death due to failing to diagnose cancer.

The family of Sharon McEneaney from Carrickmacross in County Monaghan – who died in April 2009 from a cancerous tumour in her abdomen – were at the High Court when they heard an apology read to them by a representative of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, were Sharon attended complaining of a pain in her abdomen in October 2007.

The court heard how attending physician Dr Etop Samson Akpan failed to consider the potential of a tumour, and it was not until former TD Dr Rory O´Hanlon intervened on Sharon´s behalf that she was given a biopsy in June 2008.  By then the abdomen cancer had developed beyond the stage at which it could be treated. Sharon died ten months later.

The court was also told that a report compiled by the Health Service Executive (HSE) after an investigation into Sharon´s death made thirty-eight recommendations for the future prevention of a wrongful death due to failing to diagnose cancer and that Dr Akpan was found guilty of a poor professional performance at a hearing of the Medical Council of Ireland´s Fitness to Practise Committee in January 2012.

The apology to the family was read by Margaret Swords – the General Manager of the Louth & Meath Hospital Group – who admitted that Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital had failed Sharon and that the hospital was making progress in implementing the HSE´s recommendations. The court also heard that a settlement of compensation for a wrongful death due to failing to diagnose cancer had been agreed amounting to €62,500.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that €10,000 of the settlement was going to cover the cost of Sharon´s funeral and other expenses related to her death, while Sharon´s mother – Jane – is to receive €27,100, and the remainder to be divided between Sharon´s four brothers and sisters. The judge heard that the family was satisfied with Ms Swords´ apology and the terms of the settlement.

Closing the hearing, Judge Irvine said that the McEneaney family had shown “courage and tenacity” throughout the inquest into Sharon´s death and “marvellous fortitude” in the face of such a tragic loss.

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Judge Approves €142,000 Settlement in Knee Fracture Misdiagnosis Claim

A woman, who was had the opportunity to compete in the Special Olympics taken away from her by hospital negligence, has had the settlement of her knee fracture misdiagnosis claim approved at the High Court.

In May 2009, Amy Rose McGowan was in training for the Special Olympics World Games in Athens – the world’s largest sporting gathering for children and adults with intellectual disabilities – when she fell and injured her knee during a fifty metre sprint race.

Amy Rose (now 31 years of age) was taken to Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan; where doctors failed to recognise a depressed fracture on an x-ray and diagnosed her with a soft tissue injury. Several months later, Amy Rose attended her GP because of an ongoing a pain in her knee. Her GP discovered the depressed fracture of the knee, but too late for Amy Rose to undergo corrective surgery.

Amy Rose made a knee fracture misdiagnosis claim for compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE) through her mother Charlotte McGowan, claiming that the care, diagnosis and treatment she had received in the Emergency Department of Our Lady’s Hospital had been negligent and responsible for being unable to attend the Special Olympics World Games in Athens.

Liability was conceded by the HSE, who acknowledged that Amy Rose´s depressed fracture had been overlooked at the hospital, and a €142,000 settlement of compensation for a knee fracture misdiagnosis was agreed between the HSE and Amy Rose´s legal representatives.

Because of Amy Rose´s intellectual disability, the settlement of the knee fracture misdiagnosis claim had first to be approved by a judge and, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Michael Peart heard how before her accident Amy Rose won 34 medals and 10 trophies in swimming and athletics.

The judge invited Amy Rose to show her medals and trophies to the court and said that he was “very impressed and full of admiration”. After approving the settlement of Amy Rose´s claim, Judge Peart wished her a happy life with her family before adjourning the hearing.

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Interim Cerebral Palsy Compensation Settlement Approved by Judge after High Court Hearing

A €1.5 million interim cerebral palsy compensation settlement has approved in the High Court in favour of a County Mayo teenager who suffered severe birth injuries due to alleged hospital negligence.

Mary Malee (14) was born at the Mayo General Hospital on 11th October 1999 by emergency Caesarean section after there had been an alleged avoidable delay in finding a consultant to assist with the delivery and a claimed breakdown in communicating a deceleration of the foetal heart rate.

When Mary was born, a lack of oxygen in the womb resulted from her sustaining cerebral palsy, and she is now cared for full-time by her parents – although able to attend a mainstream school, from where she hopes to go to university.

Through her mother – Maura Malee of Swinford, County Mayo – Mary made a claim for cerebral palsy compensation against the Mayo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In the claim it was alleged that there had been a failure to intervene and initiate a Caesarean section delivery in an appropriate timeframe when it became apparent that Mary was suffering distress in the womb and likely to need resuscitation.

Mayo General Hospital and the HSE both denied their liability for Mary´s cerebral palsy; but agreed to an interim cerebral palsy compensation settlement of €1.5 million, with a further assessment of Mary´s needs to be made within two years pending the introduction of structured compensation payments.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that Mary´s mother had attended the consultant who had delivered her three previous children just days before Mary was born. The consultant was about to start treatment for cancer and would be unavailable for Mary´s delivery; but he told Maura that arrangements would be made for another consultant to be present.

When Maura saw her family doctor the following day, he told her to go to hospital immediately as she was displaying symptoms of pre-eclampsia. On arrival at the hospital, Maura was transferred to the labour ward, where she underwent a CTG which revealed a series of decelerations shortly before 6:00am.

A consultant who was called at the time was unavailable to attend for the Caesarean operation, and a second consultant arrived shortly before 7:00am. According to evidence given in court, there was an alleged failure of communication in relation to the severity of Maura´s condition, and the Caesarean procedure did not get underway until after 7:20am.

In court, Mary´s legal representatives told Judge Irvine that had the procedure been started earlier, Mary´s cerebral palsy injuries could have been prevented. Subsequently Mary read out a statement in which she commented “It would have been appreciated had the HSE/Mayo General Hospital said they were sorry”, after which Judge Irvine approved the interim settlement of compensation for a delayed delivery and adjourned the case.

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Claim for Being Given Wrong Blood Test Results Fails to be Resolved as Judgement is Reserved

A Dublin woman´s compensation claim for being given the wrong blood test results has been adjourned in the High Court while the judge considers her verdict.

The woman in question – Michelle Kenny from Crumlin in Dublin – had made her claim for being given the wrong blood test results after attending St James Hospital in Dublin in August 2010. Thirty-five year old Michelle had returned from a vacation in Majorca feeling unwell, and was given an x-ray and an ECG by doctors at the hospital.

Michelle was subsequently admitted into the hospital, as doctors feared she may have blood clot on her lung, but she was discharged a week later and told to attend the Outpatients Clinic so that her condition could be monitored. It was during a visit to the Outpatients Clinic in October 2012, that Michelle gave blood to be tested for tuberculosis, and also consented to being tested for HIV.

One week later Michelle received a telephone call from the hospital to advise her that she had tested positive for the HIV virus and that she should return to the Outpatients Clinic to take a further blood test to confirm the original results. Despite subsequent tests revealing that Michelle did not have the virus, she suffered a nervous shock and withdrew from her social environment.

St James Hospital later admitted that the blood test results had been mixed up, and that Michelle should not have been informed that she was HIV positive. However, Michelle was emotionally traumatised by the mistake and, after seeking legal advice from a solicitor, made a compensation claim for being given the wrong blood test results against the hospital.

Michelle´s claim was contested on the grounds that she had not suffered a loss, an injury, or the deterioration of an existing condition as a result of the hospital´s negligence; but Michelle pursued her case and it was heard at the High Court by Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon

After hearing arguments from both parties – and evidence from Michelle – the judge said she was reserving judgement on the case, and would deliver her verdict at a later date.

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Child Starved of Oxygen at Birth has Compensation Approved

A child, who was starved of oxygen at birth, has had a compensation settlement of €4 million approved at the High Court in Dublin.

Katie Martin (13) from Trim in County Meath was born at the Coombe Women´s Hospital in Dublin on November 9th 2000 by emergency Caesarean Section, after her mother – Fiona – had presented at the hospital earlier that morning having irregular contractions.

A CTG trace was made after 90 minutes and, according to Katie´s solicitor, the trace registered abnormal readings which would indicate that Katie was being deprived of oxygen in the womb.

However, it was a further 90 minutes before any action was taken in response to the abnormal readings; and when Katie was born she had suffered a cardiac arrest and showed no signs of life.

Fortunately medical staff were able to resuscitate Katie, but she had suffered severe brain damage due to a lack of oxygen that means that she will need constant care throughout the rest of her life.

Through her mother, Katie made a claim for child starved of oxygen at birth compensation against the Coombe Women´s Hospital – who denied their liability for her injury and contested that Katie was deprived of oxygen in the womb before her mother was admitted to the hospital.

Nonetheless, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that a settlement of €4 million compensation for a child starved of oxygen at birth had been negotiated without admission of liability, and that the case was before her for approval of the settlement.

The judge heard the circumstances of Katie´s birth – and that the hospital had entered a full defence against the claim – before commenting that the settlement was a good one in the circumstances and that she had no hesitation in approving it.

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HSE Admits Negligent Care in Hospital Led to Mother´s Death

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has admitted that negligent care in hospital resulted in the death of a mother of five in January 2010.

Eileen Brady (65) from Crosskeys in County Cavan had been admitted to the Cavan General Hospital on 5th January 2010 after her GP had diagnosed that mouth ulcers she was suffering from were attributable to a poor fluid intake.

At the time of her hospital admission, Eileen was also undergoing chemotherapy treatment in Dublin for stomach cancer and the intravenous dehydration treatment she received at Cavan General Hospital was ineffective due to her veins collapsing.

An investigation into Eileen´s death revealed that it could have been prevented if hospital staff had paid closer attention to Eileen´s medical charts, consulted senior doctors when her condition continued to deteriorate, or spoken with the hospital in Dublin where Eileen was receiving her chemotherapy.

On behalf of the Brady family, Eileen´s eldest son – Martin -made a compensation claim for negligent care in hospital; alleging that he and other members of the Brady family had suffered mental distress due to their mother´s tragic and avoidable death.

The HSE admitted that negligent care in hospital had caused Eileen´s death, and the family´s claim for compensation was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. However, as part of the settlement, the family wanted to hear an apology read out in court.

Consequently, at the High Court in Dublin before Ms Justice Mary Irvine, barristers representing the HSE read a statement in which the Executive apologise for the failings in care which resulted in Eileen´s death and for the grief that had been suffered by Eileen´s family and friends.

Another of Eileen´s sons – Aidan – responded by reading a statement in which he hoped both Cavan General Hospital and the HSE had learned from “the grave mistakes” made in the care of his mother – after which Ms Justice Mary Irvine extended her personal sympathy to Eileen´s family and closed the hearing.

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HSE Apologises for Portlaoise Hospital Childbirth Negligence

Dr Philip Crowley – the National Director of Quality & Patient Safety at the Health Service Executive – has apologised on behalf of the HSE to four families who lost a child due to hospital childbirth negligence at Portlaoise Hospital.

The apology by Dr Crowley was made shortly before an RTE Prime Time television program was scheduled to be broadcast, which highlighted tragic failings in the standard of care at the hospital which led to four perinatal deaths during, or shortly after, the delivery of the babies.

The program – “Fatal Failures” – primarily focused on the story of Roisin and Mark Molloy from Tullamore, County Offaly; whose son Mark died shortly after being delivered on 24th January 2012.

Roisin and Mark had to fight a four-month battle before the hospital acknowledged that their son was still breathing when he was delivered – a condition that is required before an inquest can be held into a fatality.

The hospital´s own investigation into Mark Molloy´s death extended over twenty months – a delay which Dr Crowley described as “lamentable”. He also acknowledged that the Molloys had been deliberately misinformed when they asked questions about the death of their son.

A subsequent independent clinical review into Mark´s death reported “failures in the standard of care provided were casually linked to the foetal hypoxia damage that occurred [and the death of baby Mark]” and made recommendations to prevent such tragedies in the future.

However, as the RTE Investigation Unit discovered, the hospital childbirth negligence continued, and was responsible for the death of three more children due to foetal hypoxia. Two of the deaths were investigated internally, but the parents of the dead children were never advised of the outcomes.

The RTE investigators found that none of the measures that had been recommended following Mark Molloy´s death had been put into practice, and that there was an extreme shortage of midwives to provide as “safe” level of service.

Indeed, whereas the HSE recommends a ratio of one midwife for each twenty-eight women in the later stages of pregnancy, the Portlaoise Hospital had one midwife for every seventy-five expectant mothers – leading to “a lack of understanding of a deteriorating condition resulting in a failure to seek timely medical assistance”.

RTE investigators were also shown a letter written in 2006 by the hospital staff to the then Minister for Health Mary Harney and Minister for Finance Brian Cowen. In the letter concern was expressed over staffing levels at the hospital – a situation had been made clear to the hospital management, but no action had been taken.

The letter concluded by saying there was a “real fear” in the midwifery department that a mother or baby would die before the staffing issues were resolved.

The current Minister for Health James Reilly was invited onto the Today radio show, where he was asked about the hospital childbirth negligence that had taken place at Portlaoise Hospital.

The Minister said that the situation was “utterly unacceptable”, and that he planned to conduct a further investigation into the failings of care at the hospital and the deception that the parents of the dead children had experienced.

“I have asked the Chief Medical Officer to give me a report”, he stated, “It won’t take long and I will take action to make sure that this never happens again.”

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Woman Wins Medical Negligence Claim for being Given Wrong Medicine

A woman in Philadelphia was won her medical negligence claim for being given the wrong medicine, after a mistake at her local surgery caused her to go into cardiac arrest.

Jacqueline DiTore attended the Abington Surgical Centre in Pennsylvania on 7 June 2010 for an elective nasal procedure. Before starting the procedure, her surgeon – Dr Warren Zager – asked a nurse to prepare an anaesthetic injection of 1 percent lidocaine to soak some cotton balls soaked in a nasal decongestant (Afrin) to control the bleeding during the procedure.

The nurse poured the nasal decongestant into a bowl in order to soak the cotton balls before preparing the anaesthetic; but a second nurse mistook the contents of the bowl as lidocaine, drew the liquid into a syringe which she then passed to the doctor. Unaware that the syringe contained decongestant, Dr Zager injected the Afrin into Jacqueline´s nose, and then started to prepare for the surgery.

An anaesthetist present in the operating theatre noticed that Jacqueline´s heart rate had fallen to 36 beats per minute and – unaware that Jacqueline had been injected with enough Afrin to cause a 100-fold increase in vasoconstrictive activity (the narrowing of the blood vessels) – administered an anticholinergic which returned Jacqueline´s heart rate to 80 beats per minute.

When Dr Zager returned to begin the procedure, Jacqueline still had a sensation in her nose and the doctor asked for more 1 percent lidocaine. He was told that the surgery only had 2 percent lidocaine and it was then that the mistake with the nasal decongestant was discovered. Dr Zager chose to continue with the procedure regardless, and administered the 2 percent lidocaine into Jacqueline´s nose.

Following the injection of lidocaine, Jacqueline´s heart rate soared to 140 beats per minute and her blood pressure registered 260/150. At that point labetalol (a drug used to lower high blood pressure) was administered which caused Jacqueline´s blood pressure to crash and she went into cardiac arrest. Jacqueline was rushed to nearby Abington Memorial Hospital where she was resuscitated.

It soon became apparent that Jacqueline had suffered brain damage during the cardiac arrest which left her with impaired cognitive abilities, difficulty with her speech and vision, and short-term memory loss. Doctors advised her that her brain injury is likely to deteriorate as she gets older and, after speaking with a solicitor, Jacqueline made a medical negligence claim for being given the wrong medicine.

Both the Abington Surgical Centre and Dr Zager denied that they were liable for Jacqueline´s injury; arguing that Dr Zager was right to continue with the nasal procedure as the anaesthetic administered in the second injection did not compound the effect of the Afrin, and therefore did not contribute to her reaction. It was also claimed that Jacqueline was “high-functioning”, and that her condition was not as serious as she had claimed.

Jacqueline´s medical negligence claim for being given the wrong medicine went to Montgomery County Court in Philadelphia before Judge Thomas M. Del Ricci. After several weeks of testimony and deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in Jacqueline´s favour. The jury considered Dr Zager to be 38.5 percent negligent for Jacqueline´s brain injuries and the Abington Surgical Centre 61.5 percent negligent. They awarded her $5.1 million compensation.

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Court Approves Compensation for Wrongful Death after Caesarean Operation

The High Court has approved a settlement of compensation for wrongful death after a Caesarean operation in the case of Michael Kivlehan -v- The Health Service Executive.

Michael Kivlehan brought the claim for a wrongful death after a Caesarean operation following the events surrounding the birth of his son – Dior – and the death of his wife – Dhara – who died from multiple organ failure secondary to HELLP syndrome on September 29th, 2010.

Twenty-nine year old Dhara Kivlehan had been admitted to the Sligo General Hospital on September 20th 2010, two weeks overdue and having experienced painless contractions for two days. On examination, Dhara was exhibiting symptoms of oedema and had high blood pressure.

A blood test carried out on Dhara after her admission also showed that her liver and kidneys were not functioning correctly, but doctor´s were not made aware of her condition for twelve hours due to a break-down of communication within the hospital.

The morning following her admission, Dhara´s son was delivered by Caesarean Section and she was moved to a side room off of the main Maternity Ward at the hospital. However, after being placed in the side room, Dhara´s condition started to deteriorate and her family became concerned.

Dhara was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit at 4.45pm the day after giving birth to her son but, at 11.00pm that evening, her condition had deteriorated to such an extent that she was air-lifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast to receive specialist treatment. Dhara failed to recover, and died four days later.

Michael Kivlehan made a claim for compensation for a wrongful death after a Caesarean operation against the Health Service Executive; alleging that the Sligo Hospital had failed in their duty of care to identify the symptoms of pre-eclampsia and failed to act in time to prevent his wife´s death.

The Health Service Executive denied the allegations – claiming that there had been no failure by the Sligo General Hospital to recognise the significance and severity of Dhara´s condition or to treat her appropriately.

Michael persevered with his claim and, shortly before a scheduled court hearing was about to be held to determine whether the Health Service Executive had a case to answer, the HSE acknowledged that there had been “shortcomings” in the treatment Dhara had received and an out-of-court settlement of Michael´s claim for a wrongful death after a Caesarean operation was negotiated.

At the High Court, a representative from the Health Service Executive read out a statement of condolence in which the Executive apologised unreservedly for the mistakes that had been made in the management of Dhara´s condition. The statement also alleged that lessons had been learned from the case.

After hearing the apology, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement of compensation for a wrongful death after a Caesarean operation and offered the family her sympathy. She also criticised the Health Service Executive for “holding out until almost the bitter end” before admitting liability and causing the Kivlehan family additional distress unnecessarily.

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Options to Compensate Women for Symphysiotomy Injuries to be Investigated by Judge

Judge Yvonne Murphy has been appointed by the Government to investigate the options available to compensate women for the symphysiotomy injuries they sustained from the childbirth procedure.

Dr James Reilly – the Minister for Health – announced this week that Judge Yvonne Murphy has been appointed to investigate feasible options to compensate women for symphysiotomy injuries they sustained during the controversial childbirth procedure that took place in Irish hospitals between 1940 and 1990.

Judge Murphy´s appointment comes shortly after the government went back on a pledge to allow Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin´s Private Members Bill through the Dail unopposed – a Bill which would have created a one-year window in the Statute of Limitations and allowed around 300 women who underwent symphysiotomy operations to claim compensation.

The U-turn occurred after legal advisors warned the Government that the Bill would face legal challenges in passed – particularly from the insurance companies liable to compensate women for symphysiotomy injuries, who had already accused the Government of “moving the goalposts” on claims for personal injury compensation.

The judge has been asked to recommend a means to compensate women for symphysiotomy injuries by February 2014, and the Health Minster said that if this were to be in the form of “ex gratia” payments, the Government would be prepared to contribute to the fund. It is also understood that Judge Murphy will be speaking with insurance companies to discover whether they would also contribute towards such a scheme.

Reaction to the announcement was mixed, with Tom Moran – Chairman of the support group Survivors of Symphysiotomy Ltd – welcoming the appointment of Judge Murphy. However, Sinn Fein´s health spokesman – Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin – 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.”

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Compensation Claim for Mismanaged Birth Resolved

A Dublin couple´s compensation claim for a mismanaged birth has been resolved out of court after the couple in question agreed to a settlement of €150,000 without admission of liability.

Jane Farren from Rathgar in Dublin was close to the birth of her third child, and had been admitted to the Rotunda Hospital on the 16th October 2008 due to a spontaneous membrane rupture. Jane was administered Syntocinin to induce her labour and, at 3.45am the following morning, a vacuum delivery was attempted.

Thirty minutes later, her daughter Molly was born by emergency Caesarean Section, but staff at the hospital could not resuscitate her, and Molly was declared dead twenty minutes later – due to which both Jane and her partner Feidhlimidh Wrafter suffered nervous shock.

Jane and Feidhlimidh made a compensation claim for a mismanaged birth against consultant gynaecologist Professor Fergal Malone and the Rotunda Hospital, alleging that both parties had failed to identify abnormalities in the foetal heart rate in time to act upon them; and that when the abnormalities were noticed, nursing staff at the hospital failed to act in a timely manner.

It was also claimed that the couple had been misinformed after Jane´s admission into the hospital regarding the health of the foetus, and that they were led to believe – after Molly´s death – that nothing could have been done to save Molly as the cause of death could not be explained.

Professor Malone and the Rotunda Hospital both denied their liability for Molly´s death and the couple´s nervous shock; however a settlement of the couple´s compensation claim for a mismanaged birth was agreed without admission of liability and the case was struck out at the High Court.

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Judge Adjourns Claim for Failing to Act on Test Results

A High Court judge has adjourned a compensation claim for failing to act on test results after approving an interim settlement of compensation for an eight-year-old girl suffering from cerebral palsy.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told how Isabelle Sheehan was delivered by emergency Caesarean Section at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in Cork in November 2004, after the results from an earlier blood test on her mother – Catherine – had shown a significant increase in the presence of antibodies which had the potential to react with those of Isabelle´s father, Colm.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross also heard that, had Catherine Sheehan´s paediatric consultant – Dr David Corr – referred Catherine to a specialist at the time the results were known, Isabelle could have been born earlier and the spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy she suffered at the time of her delivery could have been avoided.

Through her mother, Isabelle made a compensation claim for failing to act on test results against Dr Corr – who admitted that he had “made a mistake” and accepted liability for Isabelle´s injuries – and, at a hearing in October 2011, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill approved an initial €1.9 million settlement of compensation and adjourned the case for two years to allow for the introduction of a structured compensation payment system.

As two years had passed, and no system for structured compensation payments has yet been introduced, Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved a further interim payment of €635,000 to provide Isabelle she will need for the forthcoming two years and adjourned her compensation claim for failing to act on test results once again.

The judge heard that, with assistance, Isabelle was keeping up with her classmates at her mainstream national school and that she was bright and intelligent. Mr Justice Kevin Cross closed the hearing by wishing Isabelle all the best for the future.

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Woman to Receive Compensation for Prescription of Wrong Drug after Case goes to Appeal Court

A woman in Australia is to receive compensation for the prescription of the wrong drug against a doctor contracted by her employer after the case was heard in the Court of Appeal.

Michelle Strickland from Macquarie Fields in Sydney brought her compensation claim for the prescription of the wrong drug after the fifty-three year old process line worker had passed out in November 2010 at Chep Australia’s Wetherill Park factory.

Michelle was taken to hospital, where a CT scan revealed that an aneurysm in her brain had ruptured and she had suffered a near-fatal neurological injury. Michelle underwent two major brain operations over the course of the next twelve months, but now suffers from facial paralysis and memory loss, and has difficulty holding a conversation with her two grandchildren.

Following a routine visit to her GP, a connection was found between the ruptured aneurysm and anti-inflammatory medication she had been prescribed by her employer´s contracted doctor to treat a repetitive strain injury she had developed while working on the factory process line.

Michelle made a claim for compensation for the prescription of the wrong drug against her employer, claiming that she had complained to the company´s doctor about headaches which occurred whenever she took the medication, but the doctor had advised her to rest until headaches passed and then to start working again.

Chep Australia denied Michelle´s claim, arguing that there was no link between Michelle´s neurological injury and her role in the factory, and that her ruptured aneurysm was probably caused by Michelle´s high blood pressure and smoking habit.

After an initial hearing at the New South Wales Workers Compensation Commission, Michelle was awarded a weekly compensation amount and her medical expenses paid; however Michelle´s employers contested the decision and took the case to the Court of Appeal in Sydney.

At the Court of Appeal in Sydney, judges found in Michelle´s favour and upheld the original decision to award compensation for the prescription of the wrong drug.

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Tipperary General Hospital Negligence Claim Settled out of Court

A woman has settled her Tipperary General Hospital negligence claim out of court after a judge considered she would have a “huge hill to climb” to establish liability for her husband´s death.

Margaret Devereux from Greenrath, County Tipperary, brought her Tipperary General Hospital negligence claim following her husband´s death in March 2008 after he had been treated at the hospital for an infected toe.

John Devereux had attended the South Tipperary General Hospital with a swollen toe on his right foot and was diagnosed as having a toe infection caused by septic arthritis. Doctors prescribed Sodium Fusidate to treat the infection and sent John home.

John returned to the hospital several weeks later complaining of pains in his legs. The infection in his toe had not got better, so John was administered further doses of Sodium Fusidate and kept in for observation.

However, John´s condition deteriorated, and it was later diagnosed that he was suffering from the condition rhabdmoloysis – a condition in which the muscles break down – due to which John developed acute renal failure, from which he died on March 2nd.

John´s widow – Margaret – made a claim against Tipperary General Hospital for negligence on the grounds that the medication John had been prescribed when he first attended the hospital had conflicted with the treatment he was receiving for his diabetes.

She further alleged that doctors at the hospital should have recognised the symptoms of rhabdmoloysis when John returned to the hospital and claimed that she had suffered severe mental distress due to the Health Service Executive´s breach in their duty of care.

The HSE denied liability for John´s death and disputed the Tipperary General Hospital negligence claim. However, at the High Court in Dublin, Mrs Justice Mary Irvine was told that an out of court settlement had been agreed which would see Margaret receive €45,000 compensation without admission of liability.

Mrs Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement, saying that John´s death had been very tragic but in the circumstances Margaret would have had a huge hill to climb to establish negligence against the South Tipperary General Hospital.

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Percentage of Accepted Awards by the Injuries Board Continues to Decline

The percentage of accepted awards made by the Injuries Board has continued to decline according to data published on injuriesboard.ie.

The six-month interim report shows that 16,162 applications for the assessment of personal injury compensation were received by the Injuries Board in the six months to June 2013. 5,286 awards by the Injuries Board were accepted during this period, for an average value of €22,349 – an acceptance rate of 32.7 percent, considerably lower than the acceptance rate of 37.2 percent for the corresponding period in 2012.

Despite the lower acceptance rate, the value of awards by the Injuries Board continues to rise. The total value of awards in the six month period (€118.14 million) was significantly higher than in the first six months of 2012 (€109.03 million) and was explained by Patricia Byron – CEO of the Injuries Board – as being due to some exceptional Injuries Boards awards – including their highest ever accepted assessment of €976,000.

Ms Byron commented that the higher volume of applications for assessment and the increased value of the awards by the Injuries Board should not be used as an excuse by insurance companies to increase their premiums. She said that preliminary figures for Quarter 3 of 2013 indicated a reduction in the number of applications for assessment received by the Injuries Board and that “a continuation of that trend could see full year volume increases being pared back to about 5% – on par with prior years”.

She added that, although there had been an increase in the value of awards by the Injuries Board, the reduction in the processing fee paid by respondents from €850.00 to €600.00 (usually paid by insurance companies on behalf of their policyholders) should more than counter the effect of the higher personal injury compensation settlements.

The majority of awards by the Injuries Board were made for injuries sustained in road traffic accidents (75.5 percent) with public liability claims for injuries sustained in places of public access accounting for 16.4 percent and compensation claims for injuries in the workplace falling once again to 8.1 percent of the awards made by the Injuries Board. The Injuries Board does not process applications for assessment when the plaintiff has sustained a loss, injury or the deterioration of an existing condition due to hospital negligence.

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Compensation for Side Effects from Flu Jab Available in UK

A support group in Ireland has claimed that the government has not fulfilled its promise to provide permanent compensation for the side effects from the flu jab Pandemrix despite families in the UK being able to claim compensation from the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme

The support group Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder (SOUND) has claimed that comments made by Health Minister James Reilly in a radio interview last week were made without knowledge of the facts.

In the radio interview, the health minister said that – to the best of his knowledge – the personal and financial assistance that had been asked for by families in Ireland whose children had suffered side effects from the flu jab Pandemrix had been provided.

However, Eilish Plunkett – a SOUND committee member, whose son Sean is one of the children suffering from narcolepsy as a result of the Pandemrix flu vaccine – has claimed that the minister’s statement is not supported by the facts.

Ms Plunkett claims that although some services and financial compensation for the side effects from the flu jab Pandemrix were in place, the assistance that was being provided was classified as temporary and could be taken away at any time.

She said that her son has a permanent illness which needs life-long support and claimed that Health Minister James Reilly had promised the group that a package of permanent support measures recommended in an official 2012 report would be approved before the summer recess in 2012.

However, the report – Investigation of an Increase in the Incidence of Narcolepsy in Children and Adolescents in 2009 and 2010”has still not gone before the government for approval while families in the UK have already been told how much compensation for the side effects of the flu jab Pandemrix they will be able to claim.

The financial support in the UK is being provided by the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme which is administered by the Department of Work and Pensions. Families who have children who have developed narcolepsy as a consequence of being administered the swine flu vaccine will be able to claim up to £120,000 provided that a severe disability can be proven.

A spokesperson from the Department of Work and Pensions said “The Department for Work and Pensions has looked at some vaccine damage payments cases again in light of new information regarding swine flu and narcolepsy provided by the Department for Health”.

More than 800,000 doses of the flu jab Pandemrix were administered in Ireland throughout the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009/10. The Health Service Executive acknowledged that there were thirty cases of the sleeping disorder narcolepsy among children who were administered the flu jab. However, SOUND claim to represent the interests of fifty-four families in Ireland with children who are suffering from side effects to Pandemrix.

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Judge Katz Delays First Bellwether Hearing for Faulty DePuy Hip Replacement Systems

The judge in charge of the multidistrict litigation has delayed the hearing for the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems to allow additional time for both parties to complete the discovery process.

The first Federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) hearing for the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems was delayed again last week after the parties in McCracken -v- DePuy (Case No 1:11 dp 20485) were permitted more time by the U.S. District Judge in charge of the hearing – David A. Katz.

The first `Bellwether` hearing for the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems has now been rescheduled for September 24th, and will concern the hip dislocation suffered by Ann McCracken (57) from Rochester in New York, instead of the injury sustained by the original plaintiff Fate Dorney-Madgitz.

Ann had a DePuy ASR XL metal-on-metal hip replacement system implanted in August 2009, but had to undergo revision surgery in January 2011 after she had suffered a dislocated hip. Her claim against DePuy Orthopaedics is based on testimony from her orthopaedic surgeon who alleges there was evidence of metallosis when he removed the DePuy implant.

In October 2011, Ann had to endure a further painful operation to implant a second device which would restrict the movement of her hip and prevent future dislocations. This second implant has reduced Ann´s mobility further and will result in her present hip replacement system wearing out quicker – resulting in future revision surgery being required.

The latest delay stems from Judge Katz´s decision that the worldwide recall of the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems should not be referred to in the hearing – not only in order that Ann´s claim be heard on its individual merits, but also because the judge agreed that any reference to the DePuy recall might dissuade other companies from voluntarily withdrawing their potentially dangerous medical devices.

Ann´s hearing for the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems is the first in a series of Federal cases which will establish the relative strengths and weaknesses of the plaintiffs´ claims and DePuy Orthopaedic´s defence. If Ann´s case – and other Bellwether trials still to be heard – helps to determine a yardstick for compensation settlements, DePuy Orthopaedics are likely to negotiate settlements of compensation with the other 7,800 plaintiffs who have included their own claims in the multidistrict litigation.

However, if the outcome of the ‘Bellwether’ trials does not establish a scale against which compensation for the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems can be measured, the remaining DePuy compensation claims will be referred back to the US District Courts in which they were originally filed – with each hearing for the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems heard separately.

This would also be the scenario in Ireland, where plaintiffs who have made claims for compensation against DePuy Orthopaedics, Johnson & Johnson and the Health Service Executive would have to pursue their legal action individually through the courts.

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Cerebral Palsy Birth Injuries Could be Reduced by More Senior Doctors Claims Consultant

A leading hospital consultant has claimed that the number of cerebral palsy birth injuries could be reduced if more senior doctors were available to provide 24/7 cover for labour wards.

Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, Master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, was speaking at a special conference convened to hear from doctors, midwives, the legal profession and families on how preventable cerebral palsy birth injuries to babies could be reduced.

He said that the number of babies born with cerebral palsy birth injuries had not reduced in the past twenty years despite an increase in foetal monitoring and births by Caesarean section, and acknowledged that a percentage of babies born with cerebral palsy were due to mistakes by hospitals and medical staff which could have been prevented.

Dr Coulter-Smith told the conference that junior doctors are being asked to make decisions regarding the healthcare of the mother and baby without the necessary experience, and that “there needs to be 24/7 cover of labour wards by senior consultants to address this problem”.

However, the consultant continued, senior doctors are only required to work between 8.00am and 8.00pm under the terms of their current consultant contracts and, for the remainder of the time, they can be at home on call and only have come to the hospital when there is an emergency.

Dr Coulter-Smith explained that the Rotunda Hospital had tried to reduce the number of cerebral palsy birth injuries by setting up a second tier of experienced junior doctors who are available outside “normal” working hours. However, he admitted, this policy was contrary to the demands of the Health Service Executive, who want the Rotunda Hospital to reduce their medical staff.

He added that he hoped the Health Service Executive would pay attention to the message from the conference because State compensation payments for cerebral palsy birth injuries each year amounted to €45million – equivalent to the Rotunda Hospital´s annual budget.

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Judge Reduces Hospital Negligence Claim Legal Costs

A High Court judge has reduced an award of hospital negligence claim legal costs, payable to a woman who was successful in her claim for compensation against the HSE in June, due to other unsubstantiated allegations.

The case of Madeline Wright v. the Health Service Executive and the Mater Misericordiae Hospital was heard in the High Court during May and June of this year and, at the end of the court case, the plaintiff – Madeline Wright – was awarded compensation on the grounds that an unreasonable delay in treating her spinal injury had constituted negligence.

However, in a departure from the normal legal principal of “costs follow the event”, Ms Justice Mary Irvine – the judge who heard the original case – has penalised Madeline for attaching unsubstantiated allegations to a genuine claim – suggesting that (in the judge´s opinion) only 20% of the evidence presented in court related to the act of negligence for which Madeline was ultimately compensated.

Although tempted to limit Madeline´s hospital negligence claim legal costs to just 20% of what had been pursued, the judge acknowledged that the practice of reducing the recovery of legal costs in “this type of litigation” is not customary and that it would be harsh to attach a large sanction in such a complex case.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine said “I am satisfied that regardless of the fact that the plaintiff only succeeded on the last of what I consider to have been four separate legs of her claim that she must nonetheless be deemed to be the overall winner of proceedings in which the defendants denied any liability and in the course of which she duly established a right to compensation she would not otherwise have been able to recover”.

The judge then 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.” Ms Justice Mary Irvine subsequently allowed 65% of the hospital negligence claim legal costs – meaning that Madeline will have to pay the remaining 35% from her settlement of hospital negligence compensation.

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Inspectors Find Hygiene Problems in Hospitals

Inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority have published a series of reports identifying hygiene problems in hospitals which could result in patients developing serious infections.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is an independent authority which examines the quality, safety and accountability of the health service in Ireland. Under health legislation, these standards are applicable to services provided by or on behalf of the Heath Services Executive (HSE), as well as services provided by nursing and independent care homes – with particular scrutiny on services for children, older people and persons with disabilities.

In June, HIQA conducted a series of inspections, and found serious hygiene problems in hospitals in Ireland. Their reports have just been released, with the five hospitals most seriously in breach of the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections being identified as:-

Waterford Regional Hospital

Among a litany of hygiene issues, HIQA inspectors discovered that patients with suspected communicable diseases were accommodated in the main area of the emergency department (because the isolation room was being used as a storeroom), that the hand hygiene of staff working in the Emergency Department was inadequate and risked spreading healthcare associated infections to other patients, and that the Emergency Department environment – and the equipment used in it – was generally unclean.

Navan Hospital

The authority found that the Emergency Department at Navan Hospital (with some exceptions) was generally unclean, and that it was not effectively managed to reduce the spread of infections. There were also hygiene problems in the hospital´s female medical ward – where patients and visitors were not adequately protected from the risk of healthcare associated infections.

Portiuncila Hospital

In Portiuncila Hospital in Ballinasloe, inspectors found an inadequate management of risk infection in breach of the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections and also that uncontrolled access was allowed to hazardous clinical waste material. There was also a failure to utilise security measures already in place to prevent access to medical equipment by the general public.

St Michael´s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire

At St Michael´s Hospital, inspectors found hygiene problems in the hospital´s toilets and showering facilities for patients – where mould had been allowed to develop – and identified that hand hygiene practices were generally inconsistent with the National Standards and posed a risk of transmitting infections to patients.

Louth County Hospital

Finally, at Louth County Hospital, medical care being provided in isolation rooms in a stepdown ward was not compliant with national hygiene standards, and inspectors discovered two cases where patients with known transmissible infections were cared for in isolation rooms where the doors onto the general ward were left open as standard practice.

The five establishments above that have been identified as having hygiene problems in hospitals will be required to develop a quality improvement plan which should be published on the hospital´s website within six weeks.

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Support Groups Disagree over Compensation for Symphysiotomy Operations

Groups representing the victims of medical procedures carried out in Ireland between the 1940s and 1990s, to aid childbirth as an alternative to a Caesarean Section, have publicly disagreed about the right path to take in order to recover compensation for symphysiotomy operations.

Following a meeting with Minister for Health James Reilly at the beginning of the month, Patient Focus and SOS Ltd issued a joint statement in which they supported a proposal by James Reilly to determine compensation for symphysiotomy operations through a negotiated mediation with a judge rather than litigation in the courts.

However, speaking at a Survivors of Symphysiotomy emergency general meeting in Dublin, chairperson Marie O´Connor declared that the proposed scheme is exploitative and they do not want to be involved in it – stating that the system proposed by James Reilly “seeks to buy their silence”.

Comparing it to a Magdalene-type solution, Ms O´Connor claimed that Minister Reilly´s proposals were based on the draft findings of the Walsh Report due to be published in the autumn, in which it was determined that the majority of the symphysiotomy operations that were carried out were “medically acceptable” at the time.

Ms O´Connor said that Minister Reilly is yet to openly admit that a wrong had been committed and called on the government to proceed with legislation removing the Statute of Limitations for symphysiotomy claims, which first passed its Private Members Bill stage back in April, but has since failed to progress to committee stage.

Survivors of Symphysiotomy are seeking compensation for symphysiotomy operations of between €250,000 and €450,000 for each victim and have argued that, by not acknowledging that hospitals and medical practitioners were negligent when performing symphysiotomy procedures, the government is denying victims access to justice and a “fair and equitable” settlement of their claims.

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Most Compensation Claims for Primary Care Negligence are for Missed Diagnoses finds Report

A report prepared by the Centre for Primary Care Research in Dublin on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has found that most compensation claims for primary care negligence are for missed or delayed diagnoses.

The “The Epidemiology of Malpractice Claims in Primary Care: A Systematic Review” – published recently in the British Medical Journal – was compiled by a team lead by Dr Emma Wallace with the objective of identifying where the focus should be targeted in future risk management systems and educational strategies for primary healthcare workers.

The report found that the most common reason for compensation claims for primary care negligence were claims against GPs and front-line doctors in hospitals for the missed or delayed diagnosis of cancer – specifically colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and cancer of the female genital tract – medication errors (administration errors and prescription errors) and, in medical negligence compensation claims for children, the failure to correctly diagnose appendicitis and meningitis.

Dr Wallace – who is herself a GP – acknowledged that compensation claims for primary care negligence were not the ideal tools against which to measure adverse events in primary care environments, but commented that when medical negligence claims are made against GPs and front-line doctors, the medical practitioners against whom the claims are made often experienced increased stress levels – reducing their effectiveness, and placing more patients at risk of a misdiagnosis or medication error.

The report also highlighted that GPs are more commonly practicing defensively because of the risk of litigation if they make a mistake and consequently referring a higher proportion of patients to consultants rather than make a diagnosis themselves. This unwillingness to make – and act on – the diagnosis of a cancer can lead to patients´ conditions deteriorating unnecessarily and ultimately put more pressure on an under-resourced Irish health service.

Dr Wallace hoped that her team´s “review”  provides an insight into the nature of adverse events in GPs surgeries and hospital outpatients departments and the reasons for them happening, which would reduce the number of compensation claims for primary care negligence in Ireland and have the knock-on effect of improving the standard of primary care provided.

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Family Claim Compensation for Fatal Bath Accident in Hospital

The father of a woman who died due to a lack of nursing care is to make a claim for compensation for a fatal bath accident in hospital following an inquest into her death.

Amy Hauserman (26) died two days after voluntarily being admitted to the psychiatric unit of Melbourne´s Frankston Hospital when – according to Coroner Peter White – she either lapsed into unconsciousness or slipped while trying to get out of the bath she had allowed to take without supervision.

At the inquest into her death, the Coroner was critical of the fact that Amy had been allowed to take a bath without a risk assessment being conducted or without consulting her consultant. He found that one nurse on the ward was not even aware that protocol for allowing psychiatric patients to take a bath existed, while the Head of Nursing gave precise details of how supervised baths should be managed.

Returning a verdict of from death due to “a hypoxic brain injury in a setting of immersion”, Coroner White said that the fatal bath accident could not have happened if a nurse had been present who could have rescued Amy and that it was an “appropriate response to this tragic episode” that the hospital no longer allowed patients in its high dependency psychiatric ward to take unsupervised baths.

After the hearing, Amy Hauserman’s father said “We are relieved the failings by Frankston Hospital have been recognised by the Coroner. But these findings confirm ours and the Coroner’s belief that if the hospital had looked after Amy better and showed her the due and proper care she deserved, she would still be with us now.”

He confirmed that the family would be making a claim for compensation for a fatal bath accident in hospital against the Mornington Peninsula Health Service, who was not prepared to comment on the case, but who said in a statement “Peninsula Health is deeply saddened by the death of Ms Amy Hauserman. We have expressed condolence to the Hauserman family on a number of occasions since Amy’s death.”

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Settlement of Claim for a Fatal Sedative Overdose in Hospital Approved in Court

The settlement of a family´s claim for a fatal sedative overdose in hospital has been approved following a hearing in the High Court.

The claim concerned the death of Margaret Duggan (69) from Screen in County Wexford, who died just eight days after being admitted to St. Vincent´s Hospital in Dublin on 11th December 2009 suffering from an abdominal pain.

Despite suffering from multiple sclerosis, Margaret was not considered to be in serious ill-health, but throughout the first few days of her stay in hospital she was administered inappropriate doses of medication to calm her down whenever she became upset or agitated.

Margaret subsequently developed aspiration pneumonia and a failure to treat once the condition was identified led to her suffering a cardiac arrest soon after being moved to intensive care.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that Margaret´s widower – William Duggan – and her three children had made a claim for a fatal sedative overdose in hospital after William suffered from severe shock on hearing the news of his wife´s death.

It was also alleged in the family´s action that his condition had been exacerbated by the hospital´s insensitivity at requesting an immediate post-mortem without giving the family any explanation of how Margaret´s death occurred.

A subsequent investigation resulted in St Joseph´s Hospital admitting that Margaret´s death could have been avoided were it not for the negligent treatment she received, and an offer of compensation for a fatal sedative overdose was made to the family amounting to €110,000.

After hearing the circumstances of Margaret´s death, and that the family were prepared to accept the proposed settlement of their claim for a fatal sedative overdose in hospital, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement, saying to William Duggan, “It must have been very traumatic to arrive in the hospital after her death. I hope as the years go by the loss lessens”.

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Judge Approves Compensation for a Lack of Medical Treatment Resulting in Death

A High Court judge has approved a settlement of compensation for a lack of medical treatment which resulted in the death of a woman from County Mayo.

The claim for compensation had been made against the Health Service Executive (HSE) by the family of Eileen Maloney (69) from Pullathomas in County Mayo – a mother of thirteen who had attended the Mayo General Hospital in February 2009 complaining of severe abdominal pains.

Eileen was admitted into Mayo General Hospital after a small obstacle in her small bowel was indicated on an X-ray. However, no doctor was available to review the x-ray for the possibility of a perforated bowel as it was a Sunday when Eileen was admitted.

It was not until the following Thursday that Eileen underwent a CT scan – which in it was revealed that a tumour had developed within Eileen´s bowel – but again this scan went unreviewed for the possibility of a perforation.

Despite suffering from cancer and being in constant pain, Eileen did not undergo surgery until the following week and died five days later. Following an investigation, it was claimed by Eileen´s family that had her condition been correctly identified and promptly treated when she was first admitted into the hospital, her death would not have occurred.

The family made a claim for compensation for lack of medical treatment resulting in death, alleging that they had suffered avoidable mental anguish due to the negligence of Mayo General Hospital and the HSE.

The HSE denied that it was liable for Eileen´s death, but the family pursued their claim and shortly it was due to be heard in court, Mr Justice Michael Peart heard that an out-of-court agreement had been reached

Under the terms if the agreement, the HSE will pay Eileen´s family €50,000 compensation for lack of medical treatment resulting in death without admission of liability. After hearing the circumstances of the case and that the family were satisfied with the agreement, Mr Justice Michael Peart approved the settlement, adding his sympathy for the family´s loss.

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Hospital Obstetric Negligence Compensation Claim Settled at Court

The family of a girl, who sustained brain damage at birth when a locum doctor failed to recognise the necessity for a Caesarean section, have had their hospital obstetric negligence compensation claim settled at the High Court.

Sonya Butler, a native of Dunmore in County Waterford was taken to Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005 after a healthy pregnancy and was looking forward to giving birth to her first child. However, her consultant obstetrician – John Bermingham – and the hospital´s two other obstetric doctors had all been permitted to take annual leave at the same time, and the hospital had employed a locum – Mahmud Khbuli – to cover for them.

Sadly, Dr Khbuli did not recognise the necessity for a Caesarean section during Sonya´s pre-operative examination and, when Sonya´s daughter – Alex – was delivered, she had experienced a lack of oxygen in the womb which resulted in the little girl suffering brain trauma and she was born tetraplegic.

In a legal action taken on her behalf by her mother, Alex made a hospital obstetric negligence compensation claim against the hospital, Dr Bermingham and Dr Khbuli; claiming that the hospital was negligent by failing to employ a sufficient number of adequately trained and competent medical staff to supervise her delivery, that Dr Bermingham should not have taken leave when the family had chosen private treatment and that Sonya´s pre-operative examination by Dr Khbuli was substandard.

At the High Court, the Health Service Executive (HSE) agreed that errors were made which should never have occurred and an apology was read out to the family on behalf of Waterford Regional Hospital. The court was informed that the action against Doctors Bermingham and Khbuli had been dropped and medical negligence compensation of €1.4 million had been agreed as an interim settlement of the family´s chospital obstetric negligence compensation claim.

The compensation figure is to be reviewed in two years, when Alex’s future care needs have been assessed and there may be the option of a structured settlement.

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One Step Closer to Compensation for Symphysiotomy Survivors

The prospect of compensation for symphysiotomy survivors moved one step closer last night when the second stage of Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Private Members Bill to introduce a one year window in the Statute of Limitations passed through the Dáil unopposed.

Many of the women who underwent symphysiotomy and pubiotomy procedures without their knowledge or consent were in the Dáil to hear the Sinn Féin’s Health Spokesman introduce his Bill by saying “Lifting the statute bar – unanimously recommended by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in June 2012 – would obviate procedural battles and ensure unfettered access for all to the courts. Judges here have no discretion in relation to the statute bar, as they do in other common law jurisdictions”.

The issue that faced the survivors of symphysiotomy procedures – carried out in Ireland between the 1940s and 1990s to aid childbirth as an alternative to a Caesarean Section – is that their right to claim compensation for symphysiotomy injuries was time-barred by the Statute of Limitations. Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin´s proposed legislation would open a one-year window to enable claims for compensation for symphysiotomy survivors to be processed through the courts.

The Government had already indicated that they would not oppose the proposed Private Members Bill, and Health Minister Dr. James Reilly received a warm reception when he announced that he would ensure that legislation to allow compensation for symphysiotomy survivors would be put in place by the end of the year. “Actions must bring closure for those who have been harmed, and who we cannot give back their lives,” he said. “But we can ensure resources flow to them and not elsewhere.

A spokesman for the Department of Health believes some work needs to be done on the drafting of the legislation for it to pass through the committee stage and into law, but Dr. Reilly indicated in his speech that he would brief the Government further once he receives the final independent Walsh Report.

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Hip Replacement Compensation for DePuy ASR Awarded

The first hip replacement compensation for DePuy ASR to be heard in court has seen an award of $8.3 million being made.

The claim made by a former prison officer, Loren Kransky (65) from South Dakota, was brought forward ahead of the Multi District Litigation (MDL) due to be heard in Ohio in May, as he is terminally ill from diabetes, heart disease and cancer of the kidney.

Mr Kransky’s legal team at the Los Angeles Superior Court claimed that he had to undergo a second hip replacement procedure – causing him pain and suffering – due to dangerously high levels of chromium and cobalt in his bloodstream caused by metal-on-metal friction within his ASR XL Acetabular hip replacement device.

The solicitors claimed that Johnson and Johnson – the parent company of DePuy Orthopaedics – promoted the faulty hip replacement products knowing that the ASR systems were defective, in effect accusing them of fraud in addition to negligence which would have allowed Kransky to qualify for major punitive damages.

The company, Johnson and Johnson, disputed that they knew the ASR hip replacements were faulty in 2007 – the year in which Kransky underwent his initial hip replacement operation – and contested Kransky’s claim for DePuy ASR hip replacement compensation on the grounds that Kransky’s pain and suffering was due to his pre-existing medical conditions.

At the Los Angeles Superior Court, the jury found that Johnson and Johnson had not acted “with malice” by marketing their product in 2007, but agreed that the product was defective and awarded Kransky $8 million in settlement of his DePuy ASR hip replacement claim, with a further $338,000 to account for the medical expenses he has incurred to date.

It was revealed immediately after the decision that Johnson and Johnson will to appeal the decision, as the precedent of $8 million in compensation for pain and suffering could be greatly inflated when claims for claimants who do not have a terminal illness are heard in the MDL action for hip replacement compensation for DePuy ASR in Ohio in May.

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Failed Sterilisation Compensation Awarded by High Court

The High Court has awarded a mother €100,000 for failed sterilisation compensation after the son she was never supposed to have died after only six months of life.

Karen Hurley-Ahern (41) from County Limerick, underwent the sterilisation operation in February 2001 after finding from her GP that she had an unusual blood-clotting disorder that would pose a risk to herif ever she were to fall pregnant again.

The operation was carried by gynaecologist Dr Victor Moore at the Tralee General Hospital, but in April 2002 Karen became pregnant once more and, after a difficult pregnancy, gave birth to baby Samuel on 10th October 2002 – six weeks prematurely and by emergency Caesarean section.

Samuel experienced severe abnormalities which were unrelated to Kare’s sterilisation operation, and stayed in hospital for six months – kept alive by a series of life-support machines. In April 2003, Samuel experienced a severe heart attack and Karen and her partner – Garrett Ahern – made the difficult decision to turn off the life-support machines.

After seeking legal guidance, Karen and Garrett began a claim for failed sterilisation compensation against Dr Moore and the Southern Health Board (now the Health Service Executive), for the pain and trauma the couple had been through due to the unsuccessful sterilisation procedure.

Dr Moore and the HSE did not accept liability – alleging that the operation had been performed correctly and the couple had been advised that there was a chance of failure. However, in the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Sean Ryan ruled in favour of the now-separated claimants – recognising that Samuel’s disability was not as a result of the failed sterilisation procedure, but stating that Karen had suffered to a major extent due to the defendant´s negligence.

Awarding Karen €100,000 in failed sterilisation compensation, Mr Justice Sean Ryan stated that the award was in respect of the worry she had suffered when she found she was pregnant, the pain of childbirth, the distress of Samuel’s illness and distress after his death. However, no compensation award was made to Garrett as – according to Mt Justice Sean Ryan – while he had undoubtedly endured emotional trauma, there was no evidence Garrett had sustained a defined psychiatric injury.

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Negligent Hospital Hysterectomy Compensation Awarded to Secretary

A female, who suffered both physical and emotional injuries due to the negligence of a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, has been awarded €438,000 in negligent hospital hysterectomy compensation following a court hearing.

Cynthia Kinsella (52) from Terenure, Dublin, underwent the initial surgical procedure at Mount Carmel Hospital in April 2008 after contracting menorrhagia – an illness which causes severe menstrual bleeding. Three weeks after her surgical procedure she started leaking from the bladder – a condition known as medically as a fistula – which lead to significant distress and loss of amenity.

The surgeon overseeing the initial operation – consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr. Gerry Rafferty – was also present, assisting, at a second operation in July in an attempt to resolve the issue; where it was found that the menorrhagia may have been attributable to a misplaced suture in the bladder. After discovering that the most likely cause of her injury was hospital negligence, Cynthia sought legal guidance and subsequently made a claim for negligent hospital hysterectomy compensation.

Dr Rafferty claimed that Ms Kinsella’s condition was due to a rare complication of the hysterectomy procedure and he denied his liability for Cynthia´s injuries. However, at Dublin´s High Court, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill did not accept the surgeon´s argument and found in favour of Cynthia negligent hospital hysterectomy claim for compensation.

The court was informed that in November 2008 Cynthia had been made redundant from her senior secretarial position with an engineering firm. She was unable to find another role eue to a combination of her fistula condition and the severe anxiety disorder she suffered from.

The judge ruled that Cynthia´s capacity for work had been affected by her condition and that there was small chance of her finding future employment because of it. Awarding Cynthia €200,000 for past and future pain and suffering, €225,000 for past and future loss of salary and €13,184 for negligent hospital hysterectomy special damages, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill said that if it had been the case that Cynthia had not suffered as a result of the hysterectomy operation, he was of the belief that she would have in all probability found different employment following her redundancy.

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Hospital Delayed Action Compensation Approved in Court

A settlement of compensation for hospital delayed compensation has been approved at the High Court in the case of Brid Courtney – two years after the brain damaged child was awarded an interim payment.

Brid, who is now nine years of age and comes from Ardfert in County Kerry, was born in Tralee General Hospital in February 2003 suffering from brain damage after medical staff at the hospital allegedly failed to act on a sudden and dramatic change in the foetal heart rate pattern.

As a result of the decrease in heart beat, Brid suffered perinatal asphyxia in the womb and because of the oxygen starvation is now confined to a wheelchair from which she has to be lifted bodily. Additionally, she is unable to speak and has to rely on the use of her eyes and facial expressions to communicate with her family.

After a claim for injury due to delayed hospital action made through her mother – Deidre – the Health Service Executive agreed to settle the claim without admission of liability and, in November 2010, Mr Justice John Quirke approved an interim payment of 2 million Euros and adjourned the case for two years to allow for the introduction of periodic payments.

However, a system for periodic compensation payments for catastrophic injuries has still not been brought in by the government and – two years after the initial payment of compensation for hospital delayed  action was approved – the case returned before the court for the approval of a final settlement.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard evidence from experts that a further 9 million Euros in compensation for delayed hospital action would have to provide adequate care for Brid through the remainder of her expected life and, as both Brid´s mother and the Health Service Executive agreed with the expert´s assessment, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement.

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Delayed Eye Injury Diagnosis Claim Heard in Court

A former student, who suffers severe spasticity of the limbs and has eye movement problems allegedly due to the negligence of a Galway hospital, has had his delayed diagnosis of an eye injury claim heard in court.

Seamus Walshe Jnr (27) of Taylor´s Hill, Galway, was a 21-year-old student in a course of construction studies when he first started suffering problems with his eyes in 2006 whenever he looked upwards. His symptoms deteriorated to the point where upward eye movement left him feeling nauseous and he would being to vomit.

Seamus attended Galway University Hospital with his problems, but was told after a neurological examination that there was nothing seriously wrong with him and he should get used to having persistent problems with his eyes.

Seamus went back to Galway University Hospital later in the year when he started to develop pains in his head and underwent a scan which revealed a brain tumour. He was referred to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin where he had surgery to remove the tumour in May 2007.

However, issues during the brain tumour operation resulted in severe haemorrhaging around the brain and Seamus was kept in intensive care for nine weeks following surgery. When he started to recover, he was sent back to Galway University Hospital in November 2007.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court heard that in September 2008 Seamus was sent to the National Rehab Centre but, because of the alleged negligent treatment he had received, was restricted to a wheelchair with spasticity of the limbs and had problems moving his eyes.

Seamus made a compensation claim for the delayed diagnosis of his brain tumour through his father, Seamus Snr, claiming that had he had a scan when he first attended the Galway University Hospital, the tumour would have been discovered earlier and he would have been referred to the Beaumont Hospital sooner.

A second claim was made against the Beaumont Hospital for opting to perform brain surgery when treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy had resulted in long term survival rates of up to 90 percent.

Both the Health Service Executive – on behalf of Galway University Hospital – and the Beaumont Hospital denied their liability for Seamus´ injury, but Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that a negotiated settlement of 2.5 million Euros in compensation for the delayed diagnosis of a brain tumour had been settled on without admission of liability.

The settlement of compensation is intended to provide Seamus with the care he needs for the next three years, after which time a structured periodic payment system would provide for his future care if legislation was introduced by the Government in time to allow such a payment structure.

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New Government Statistics Show Fewer Claims for Whiplash Injury Compensation

The Department for Works and Pensions Compensation Recovery Unit as released figures  that show claims for whiplash injury compensation have fallen year-on-year by more than 4 percent.

An overall amount of 547,405 claims for whiplash injury compensation were recorded by the Compensation Recovery Unit in 2011/2012, whereas in the previous twelve months 571,111 whiplash injury compensation claims were registered.

This drop in the volume of claims for whiplash injury compensation was noted by president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) – Karl Tonks – when he was giving evidence to a Transport Select Committee ahead of the latest amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill 2012.

Mr Tonks also reveal the outcome of a survey prepared on behalf of APIL by market research company Canadean which showed that 40 percent of people eligible to make claims for whiplash injury compensation declined to do so. The survey also revealed that 1 percent of people who answered the survey had suffered a whiplash injury in the past twelve months, while 20 percent of those had experienced a whiplash injury in the past suffered symptoms of their whiplash injury for more than twelve months.

The Government is expected to reveal a strategy for new specialist medical panels to support improvements in the diagnosis of whiplash and to increase from 1,000 pounds to 5,000 pounds the value up to which claims can be handled by the small claims court, but Mr Tonks warned the Transport Select Committee that the Government could be embarking on a potentially damaging reform agenda.

Agreeing that a “universal commitment was required to reduce the number of fraudulent claims for whiplash injury compensation”, Mr Tonks added “But it’s even more important to stand firm against any move to put barriers in the way of the majority of people who have genuine injuries and who need to make genuine claims.” Mr Tonks presented a ten point plan to the Transport Select Committee which he hoped could be discussed with the Government.

1. Information on fraud to be freely available to all parties to help identify possible fraudsters

2. Claimants to be legally bound statement of truth

3. Ban insurance companies from paying compensation without medical evidence

4. No offers of gifts or cash to potential clients to be made by any party involved

5. Enforcement of future ban preventing insurance companies from selling the details of claimants’

6. Identities of potential expert witnesses to be shared by all sides involed

7. New guideline to help medics identify and understand whiplash injury to a greater extent

8. Photo Identification to be provided when attending a medical

9. Claimant´s solicitor to arrange access to relevant medical records

10. Spam texting to be outlawed

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Compensation for Hospital Mismanaged Birth Approved in Court

A woman, who was starved of oxygen at birth and has suffered a lifetime of learning difficulties, has had a settlement of compensation for her hospital mismanaged birth approved at London´s Royal Courts of Justice.

Susanne Turner (45) from Wittersham in Kent was born at Buchanan Street Hospital in St Leonards-on-Sea after a delayed Caesarean operation due to neither a surgeon nor an anaesthetist being available to perform the procedure at the time. Due to this, Susanne was deprived of oxygen in the womb, unable to breathe independently when she was born and suffered severe brain damage.

Susanne´s parents – Christopher and Sandra – brought up Susanne without assistance, and unaware that they were entitled to claim compensation for the hospital mismanaged birth, until they read a magazine article which explained Susanne´s rights to compensation.

When they sought legal advice about their situation, Christopher and Sandra discovered that – as Susanne did not have the mental capacity to bring a claim for hospital mismanaged birth compensation herself – they were still within the time frame allowed to sue the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority for the negligent situation which had occurred in 1967.

After reviewing the claim for hospital mismanaged birth compensation, South East Coast Strategic Health Authority quickly admitted their liability for Susanne´s birth injury and, at the Royal Courts of Justice, issued a formal apology for the mismanagement of Susanne´s birth.

Approving the settlement of compensation for hospital mismanaged birth, which will take the form of annual payments and a lump sum payment to pay for a specially-adapted home for Susanne, judge Mrs Justice Nicola Davies paid tribute to Christopher and Sandra´s “love and devotion”. The settlement is estimated to be worth 4.2 million pounds and will provide Susanne with the care she needs for the remainder of her life.

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High Court Compensation for Early Hospital Discharge

A female, who was released from hospital just eight hours after being admitted with a broken pelvis, has won a High Court hearing and been awarded with 35,000 pounds in early hospital discharge compensation.

Lydia Eaton (102) from Wigmore, Kent, sued the Medway NHS Trust through her daughter after she was unable to walk independently following the events of March 2007. Lydia, who had broken her pelvis in a fall near her home, was taken to the A&E Department of Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham but discharged after just eight hours and given with a prescription for painkillers.

Lydia´s physical condition deteriorated after she returned home and, as her mobility decreased, started to develop sores and ulcers. Her family, it was claimed at London´s High Court, were given no instruction on how to deal with Lydia´s condition or support from the hospital, and the following month Lydia was moved into a nursing home.

Judge Sweeney at the High Court heard solicitors on behalf of Lydia contend that Lydia would still be living independently and able to walk had it not been for the negligence of doctors at the Medway Maritime Hospital and they advised the judge that, since the claim for early hospital discharge compensation had been filed, Lydia had been forced to move into another – more expensive – nursing home where a higher level of care could be provided.

Finding in favour of Lydia, Judge Sweeney agreed that the hospital had been negligent in prematurely releasing Lydia from hospital – a situation which had directly resulted in the deterioration of her condition. The judge made the award of 35,000 pounds in early hospital discharge compensation to Lydia and ordered that it be placed in a trust fund to pay for Lydia´s care.

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Paramedic Awarded Compensation for Brain Surgery Negligence

An ex-paramedic, who was left severely disabled after doctors removed the wrong part of his brain, has accepted a seven figure settlement of compensation for brain surgery negligence from the NHS Trust responsible for the error.

John Tunney (63) from Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, went under the operation in April 2008 after an MRI scan had revealed abnormalities around his pituitary gland. However, instead of abstracting the tumour, surgeons took away healthy tissue during the operation which resulted in John´s brain hemorrhaging.

The error left John partially blind and requiring 24 hour care. He later learned that the operation had not even been necessary as doctors had failed to check the results of a blood test which would have revealed that John was suffering from prolactinoma – a benign and common pituitary tumour which can be medically treated with tablets.

After taking legal advice, John – who worked for the West Midlands Ambulance Service as a paramedic for 23 years – made a claim for brain surgery negligence compensation against the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and, after an investigation, the NHS Trust admitted liability for the dual error.

John´s solicitors entered into negotiations with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust over how much compensation for brain surgery negligence should be awarded and, although details of the final settlement have not been released, a settlement in excess of one million pounds has been agreed.

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Family to Receive Compensation for Hospital Misdiagnosis of Meningitis

The family of a six-year-old girl, who were told their daughter was well enough to return home when suffering from pneumococcal meningitis, are to receive an anticipated seven figure payout in compensation for hospital misdiagnosis of meningitis.

Kate Pierce from Wrexham, North Wales, was just nine months of age when she developed the infection and was taken to Wrexham´s Maelor Hospital. A junior doctor diagnosed Kate with viral tonsillitis and advised her parents it was safe to take her home. When asked if they could have a second opinion, Kate´s parents were told that the guidance of a senior doctor had been sought when it in fact had not.

Kate´s parents took the little girl home but, when her condition deteriorated further, returned to the hospital the next day. On their return Kate was properly diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and transferred to Liverpool´s Alder Hey Children´s Hospital. However, Kate had already suffered severe brain damage and now suffers from chronic lung disease, severe epilepsy and is registered both blind and deaf.

The family took legal counsel about claiming compensation for hospital misdiagnosis of meningitis and sued the Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board for medical negligence – claiming that the severity of Kate´s condition could have been avoided if she had been diagnosed correctly. After an investigation into the misdiagnosis claims, Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board admitted 75 per cent liability for Kate´s injuries and, at Mold County Court, a judge heard that a compromise situation had been reached.

How much compensation for hospital misdiagnosis of meningitis Kate´s family will receive will be decided at a hearing later this year.

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Woman to Receive Compensation for Hospital Surgical Procedure Error

A Nottingham woman, who was left with cerebral palsy after being starved of oxygen during a routine operation when she was a baby, has been awarded a six-figure settlement of compensation for hospital surgical procedure error at London´s High Court.

Stacey Jayne Smith (24) was brought to Nottingham City Hospital in 1988 with a high temperature and doctors, suspecting gall stones, scheduled an operation to removed Stacey Jayne´s gall bladder. However, as Mr Justice Tugendhat at the High Court heard, during the surgical procedure Stacey Jayne´s bowel was punctured and she went into cardiac arrest.

Although she was resuscitated, Stacy Jayne´s heart had stopped and she suffered catastrophic brain injuries as a result. Stacey Jayne now has cerebral palsy and had to cope throughout her childhood with severe learning difficulties and experiences problems with walking long distances.

Stacey Jayne´s parents made a hospital negligence claim against the East Midlands Strategic Health Authority (EMSHA) who, after an investigation, acknowledged their error and agreed an undisclosed settlement of compensation for hospital surgical procedure error which is believe to be in six figures.

Approving the hospital compensation settlement, Mr Justice Tugendhat said “I do express my sympathy to Stacey’s family and wish them all the best for the future. Stacey has been very fortunate in the support her family has given her, so lovingly, for so long.”

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Hospital Medical Negligence Claims Against NHS Rise due to Increased Awareness

Increased awareness of patient rights has resulted in a dramatic increase in hospital medical negligence claims against the National Health Service (NHS). According to government figures, the number of claims made in the past five years has gone up from 5,697 to 8,655 per year, and has forced the NHS Litigation Authority to seek additional funding from the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansbury.

Tom Fothergill, financial director of the NHS Litigation Authority, admitted that marketing campaigns by “No Win, No Fee” solicitors had added to the public body´s financial shortfall and had added a premium to legal costs. However, he was also eager to point out that legislation which linked the wages of claimants´ carers to earnings rather than inflation has also led to increased amount of payouts.

With approximately 100 hospital medical negligence claims a year relating to birth injury compensation, and the average value of each claim close to 6 million pounds in the lifetime of the child, an improvement in the survival rates of brain damaged babies – who will require a lifetime of care – has also placed significant strain on the NHS Litigation Authority´s budget.

A further 185 million pounds is needed by the NHS Litigation Authority to prevent it running out of money by the end of the fiscal year, a sum which has been approved by Mr Lansbury and health minister Lord Howe. Following the announcement of the bail-out Lord Howe revealed “Following a review of claims, we have made additional funds available to the NHS Litigation Authority in order to make sure that those claimants who are entitled to compensation receive it in a timely way.”

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Cancer Misdiagnosis Victim Wins Hospital Medical Negligence Claim

A woman who had her stomach erroneously removed after being misdiagnosed with cancer has won her hospital medical negligence claim and received an undisclosed settlement from Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals NHS Trust.

The 74-year-old woman from Rugeley, Staffordshire, had the surgery in 2004 after doctors told her that a tumour in her stomach was malignant. She later was told by support medical staff that her test results had been misinterpreted and that the tumour was benign.

Due to her operation and long recovery period the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, has lost a significant amount of weight and suffers from painful digestive problems. She has been unable to carry on in the voluntary work she did before the operation and now requires regular care and assistance.

The undisclosed out-of-court hospital medical negligence claim settlement has been calculated to include the psychological trauma of being told that she had a life-threatening tumour inside of her and the deterioration in her quality of life due to the unnecessary surgery. It will allow the woman to receive a higher level of care in the future and support to help her recover from her emotional ordeal.

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Baby Tube Hospital Medical Negligence Claim Settled

A couple from Staffordshire have been awarded an undisclosed baby tube hospital medical negligence settlement after their son coughed up a tube which had been left in his throat following a surgical procedure.

Claire Thomas of Cannock, Staffordshire, had just given birth to her son, Owen, at the Stafford Hospital in February 2007 when the error happened. Owen had been a difficult birth, and because he had suffered shoulder dystocia during the delivery, an endotracheal tube had been inserted into his throat to enable him to breathe.

Due to the birth difficulties, Claire and Owen were still in the specialist care unit at Stafford Hospital ten days later when Owen started choking. Claire slapped him on the back, and Owen brought up the six inch tube which had been left in his throat following the procedure.

After taking legal guidance, Claire and her husband, Kevin, filed a hospital medical negligence claim against the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust which has now been resolved for an undisclosed sum. Owen, their son, has luckily suffered no long-term consequences as a result of the hospital oversight.

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Brain Damaged at Birth Hospital Compensation Settlement Approved

An eleven year old girl, who was starved of oxygen during her birth and is now permanently brain damaged, has had a brain damaged at birth hospital compensation settlement of 1.75 million pounds approved at the High Court.

The unnamed girl was born at West Sussex Hospital in 2000 but, during her delivery, obstetric staff did not notice signs of foetal distress. The girl is not able to walk or talk, and uses an electric scooter for mobility and a computer to communicate.

“I am constantly amazed by the triumph of hope over adversity” stated Mr Justice Butterfield, as he approved the  brain in jury at birth hospital compensation settlement against the West Sussex NHS Trust which includes an immediate lump sum payment of 1.75 million pounds and annual payments to fund a lifetime of care.

Mr Justice Butterfield also had words for the girl´s parents, stating that “The devotion and care of her parents is undoubted and we very much hope that this sum of money will provide her with the very best possible future.”

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15,000 Pounds for Missed Severed Tendon Hospital Diagnosis

A renowned magician, whose doctor´s overlooked a severed tendon in his hand which threatened to end his career, has been awarded 15,000 pounds in an out-of-court settlement of his missed severed tendon hospital diagnosis claim.

Kyle Summers (40) from Burbage, Wiltshire, had gone to the Accident and Emergency Department of the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton after a cup he had been cleaning shattered in his hand. Doctors at the hospital took an x-ray of Kyle´s left hand to make sure that there was no china lodged in his thumb and then stitched the wound up and sent Kyle home.

When Kyle started to experience difficulty performing his magic tricks, he decided to have the hand looked at by his GP, but because the notes made at the hospital indicated that there was no damage to the tendon – even though the cut on Kyle´s thumb had been deep enough to reach the bone – the GP and a physiotherapist decided that the tendon had swollen.

It was after another check-up six weeks later that the true cause of the problem was identified. Kyle had to undergo two operations to insert a rod in his wrist and attach a thicker tendon before the injury started to mend. Only after months of intense specialist physiotherapy did Kyle gain the dexterity in his hand to allow him to work again.

After seeking legal guidance, Kyle sued the George Eliot NHS Trust for medical negligence and, in an out-of-court settlement, received 15,000 pounds for the missed diagnosis of his severed tendon.

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London Boy Awarded 6.6 Million Pounds for Hospital Birth Injury

A young boy, who suffered catastrophic brain damage during his delivery, has had a hospital compensation settlement package approved at London´s High Court.

Leo Whiten (7) from Tooting, London, was born in 2004 at St. George´s Hospital in Tooting but, due to the mismanagement of his birth, sustained brain damage which has left him requiring full-time care as he is unable to stand or walk by himself and has limited speech, which was described in court as non-functional.

St. George´s Healthcare NHS Trust admitted errors in respect of managing Samantha Nowell´s labour – Leo´s mother – and during his birth, and at the High Court in London, Mrs Justice Swift heard expert testimony that Leo will always be totally dependent on the care of others for his daily activities.

Announcing the hospital birth injury compensation settlement package, which consists of a 2.7 million pounds lump payment and staged annual payments, the judge stated that “Leo will never be able to live independently, will not be capable of any form of employment and will never have the necessary mental capacity to be able to manage his own affairs”.

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Hospital Birth Injury Cerebral Palsy Girl Awarded 5 Million Pounds Compensation

A twelve-year-old girl, who sustained severe brain damage due to mistakes made during her delivery, has been awarded 5 million pounds in a hospital birth injury cerebral palsy compensation.

Sophie Clarke (12) from Pontyclun, Rhondda Cynon Taf, was born in 1998. However, a gross abnormality of Sophie´s heart rate was not identified, despite it registering on monitoring equipment.

If staff at the Princess of Wales Hospital had noticed Sophie´s condition, they would have intervened and delivery her by Caesarean Section. However, they permitted the birth to continue naturally, causing Sophie to suffer from a lack of oxygen in the womb.

Sophie suffers from traumatic cerebral palsy as a result of the errors made at the hospital and now needs twenty-four hour care, is fed via a tube and is confined to a wheelchair.

Solicitors acting for the family sued the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board for negligence, and in a hearing at Cardiff Crown Court the negotiated settlement of 5 million pounds was approved.

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Child Paralysed at Birth Awarded 6 Million Pound Package

A six year old boy, who is only able to move his eyes after an error in his delivery left him in a quadriplegic condition, has been awarded a 6 million pounds child paralysed at birth compensation package at London´s High Court.

The boy, whose name was withheld in court, suffered severe cerebral palsy due to delays in a caesarean section being performed at Epsom Hospital in December 2004 and now requires around-the-clock care.

Suing Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust through his mother, the boy alleged that their medical negligence had led to his condition and, after an investigation, Mr Justice Eady at the High Court heard that the NHS Trust admittedly liability.

The child paralysed at birth compensation settlement which totals 5,961,199 pounds, is to paid in a lump sum of 2.8 million pounds to pay for the care and specialist treatment he requires now, with further index-linked and tax free payments throughout the remainder of the child´s life.

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1 Million Pounds Hospital Heart Surgery Disablement Compensation

Two teenagers, who claimed to have suffered disability following hospital  heart surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary when they were children, have each had medical negligence compensation awards of 500,000 pounds approved in the High Court.

The two teenagers – Kristian Dixon (19) and Jessica Johnson (18) – were both babies when undergoing heart surgery at the hospital in 1992 and 1993 respectively.  Mr Dixon alleged that brain damage sustained when he was sixteen months caused cognitive and learning difficulties, while Ms Johnson has required permanent care ever since her heart surgery.

It was claimed at the High Court in London that both had sustained hospital brain damage due to professional misconduct by Surgeon Mr James Wisheart and hospital manager Dr John Roylance – who were struck off following a review into the deaths of 29 babies at the hospital between 1988 and 1995 – and Dr Janardan Dhasmana, who was barred from performing heart surgery at a disciplinary hearing in 1999.

In approving the awards, which were agreed by United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust without admission of liability, Mr Justice Owen commended the families of both teenagers for the devoted care they had given over the years.

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Multi-Million Hospital Celebral Palsy Compensation Due To 15 Minute Delay

An eight year old boy, who sustained terrible brain damage due to being starved of oxygen at his birth, has been awarded a multi-million pound hospital cerebral palsy compensation package by the High Court in London.

Callum Davies, of Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, was born at tAbergavenny in November 2002. A fifteen-minute delay in his delivery starved his brain of oxygen, and resulted in Callum sustaining dyskinetic hospital cerebral palsy and brain damage.

Claiming medical negligence against the Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust through his father Paul, Callum will now need extensive care for the remainder of his life – care which has been provided for him until now by his parents.

The health board which succeeded Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust in 2009 – the Anuerin Bevan Health Board – admitted liability for Callum’s hospital birth injury and issued an apology in front of Mrs Justice Nicola Davies at the High Court.

Announcing details of the hospital cerebral palsy compensation package, Judge Davies approved an immediate payment of 2.275 million pounds in order to adapt the family home and provide an education programme for Callum. Further annual payments will be made by the NHS Trust to cover the cost of his future care.

Addressing Callum’s parents in court, the judge went on to say “It is clear that the care which you and your wife have given is of the highest order. I know that Callum’s injuries have impacted on you and your whole family as a unit and that is something which at times is very, very difficult for families. I am well aware that the settlement approved by the court is not the complete answer, but what I do hope for the family is that these monies will make life easier”.

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Hospital Disability Compensation Award Set At 1.5 Million Pounds

Disabled Stuart Morley, 29, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, could be the recipient of more than 1.5 million pounds in hospital disability compensation, after an out of court agreement was reached in his medical negligence claim against the North West London Hospitals NHS Trust.

Stuart, who has suffered from learning difficulties during his life, was fitted with a colostomy bag at the age of 11 after he was diagnosed with chronic constipation with overflow. In 2002, he was referred to St. Marks Hospital in Middlesex, where he was advised that the surgical procedure could be reversed.

However surgeons incorrectly closed Stuart’s bowel, which inevitably burst causing Stuart to suffer life threatening peritonitis and septicaemia, and requiring further extensive surgery to repair the damage.

After almost a decade of seeking hospitality disability compensation for his injuries, Stuart’s family have now reached agreement with the NHS Trust and will receive an immediate lump sum payment of 500,000 pounds, with further annual amounts of 25,000 pounds for the remainder of Stuart’s life.

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Hospital Infection Compensation Award Tops 8 Million Pounds

A 13 year old girl, who sustained brain damage after her premature birth due to a hospital “superbug”, has been awarded a hospital infection compensation package worth in excess of 8 million pounds at the Royal Court of Justice in London.

The court was told how Ayesha Canning-Kishver from Coventry, West Midlands, was delivered at 25 weeks and 3 days at Birmingham City Hospital in July 1997. At just 1lb and 12 ounces, and suffering from mild periventricular leukomalcia, she was immediately transferred to a special neonatal care unit where she appeared to improve over the following seven days.

However, Ayesha contracted a double infection of staphylococcus epidermidis and klebsiella due to bacteria associated with medical devices – such as indwelling catheters – and nearly died. The resuscitation process lead to Ayesha sustaining brain damage, and she will require around the clock care for the rest of her life.

The allegation of hospital infection medical negligence was brought against Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust by Ayesha’s mother, Shahana Kishver, on the grounds that a breach in the hospital’s duty of care led to delay in the infections being diagnosed and treated.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust had initially refuted the claim, stating that their staff were blameless and Ayesha’s condition was due to her premature birth. However, a High Court hearing in 2008 found Birmingham City Hospital liable for the infection.

Announcing the hospital infection compensation package at the Royal Court of Justice, the Honourable Mr. Justice Neil Butterfield stated that “This should not be viewed as a ‘lottery win’ – rather it will be used to fund the lifetime of care which Ayesha will need.”

Ayesha’s hospital infection compensation package consists of an immediate lump sum payment of 1.3 million pounds, with annual payments of 70,000 pounds a year until Ayesha reaches the age of 18, with payments increasing thereafter to 90,000 pounds a year for the rest of her life.

In response to the hospital infection compensation settlement, the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust commented that they regretted the delay to respond to Ayesha’s symptoms.

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Hospital Birth Injury Claim Won by 33 Year Old Man

An incredible 33 years after his birth, an Oxfordshire man you suffered catastrophic injuries during his birth, has been awarded a 5.7 million pounds package in a hospital birth injury claim for compensation.

Ian Murphy was born in the city’s John Radcliffe Hospital in 1977. During his delivery his brain was starved of oxygen, resulting in Ian sustaining a cerebral palsy injury and being confined to a wheelchair from birth.

Ian has been always been supported by his parents, who have given day-to-day care since he was diagnosed with the condition. Ian experiences difficulties in communicating and socialising and it was only when his parents started enquiring about suitable accommodation for when they are no longer able to care for him themselves, that they discovered they were entitled to compensation.

After taking legal guidance, they claimed compensation for medical negligence against the South Central Strategic Health Authority, and in the Royal Court of Justice received an apology for errors made during the delivery and approval of a 5.7 million pounds compensation package.

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Delayed Hospital Brain Tumour Diagnosis Claim Settled for 4.5 Million

An NHS manager, who suffered severe brain damage after a delay in the diagnosis of her brain tumour, has had a 4.5 million pounds delayed hospital brain tumour diagnosis compensation claim settled in the High Court.

Frances Bowra (45)of Maidstone, Kent, worked as a chiropody manager, was a volunteer for the charity “Crisis Over Christmas” and a keen dancer and dressmaker when, in 2003, she was taken to Maidstone General District Hospital Accident and Emergency Department after collapsing at home suffering from violent headaches and vomiting.

A delay in diagnosing her brain tumour, and taking her to Kings College Hospital, London, for an emergency operation resulted in Frances’ condition deteriorating, and she now suffers from partial paralysis and visual impairment.

In the High Court, the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust recognised that it had breached its duty of care, and apologised to both Frances and her family for the errors they had made.

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Hospital Operation Debris Leads to 350,000 Pounds Compensation

A 36-year-old man has received 350,000 pounds in hospital operation debris compensation after part of a latex surgical glove was left in his throat following hospital surgery.

Wayne Williams, from Tooting, London, was taken to St. Georges Hospital in South West London for heart surgery in June 2006, during which a tracheotomy was performed to enable him to breathe.

After the surgery, Wayne experienced difficulties breathing and was referred back to the hospital for throat surgery, during which surgeons discovered a small piece of latex left behind in his trachea.

The latex debris was admitted to not only have been the cause of Wayne’s breathlessness, but had additionally permanently scarring his vocal chords.

St. George’s NHS Healthcare Trust accepted liability for medical negligence and the compensation settlement of 350,000 was agreed.

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Undiagnosed Brain Tumour Compensation Award Undisclosed

A former Church of England assistant minister, whose brain tumour was left unattended for three years, is to receive a substantial out of court settlement for undiagnosed brain tumour compensation.

Adrian Underwood, 42, from Birmingham, had been particapting in a theology course in Nottingham in 2001, when he started to suffer severe headaches. He was sent to Nottingham University Hospital, where he underwent a brain scan which revealed a growth inside his skull, but no further action was taken and Adrian was discharged – being told he had nothing more serious than a migraine.

Adrian was unable to complete his course – moving back to Birmingham to take the position of a curate. However, his health continued to worsen, and it was during a medical investigation in 2004 to determine why Adrian was losing his sight that the much enlarged brain tumour was noticed after a scan at Birmingham Eye Hospital.

An emergency operation removed a tumour the size of a lemon, which had forced down on Adrian’s brain and formed a lump in his head. Adrian now suffers from regular fatigue and epilepsy due to this oversight – medical conditions which could have been avoided if the tumour had been removed after the initial scan.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust acceped liability but did not add any further comment.

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