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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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