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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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