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”.