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Woman (60) has €5m Settlement for Medical Misdiagnosis Compensation Approved

Bernadette Surlis (60) from Co Roscommon has had her €5m medical misdiagnosis compensation settlement, in her litigation against the Health Service Executive (HSE) settled.

The legal action was in relation to the treatment she was given at Sligo General Hospital in 2013. Senior Counsel Mr Cush stated, if had Ms Surlis been speedily and correctly treated in November 2013, she would not have suffered the debilitating injuries that have changed her life completely. Mr Cush advised the court that liability was admitted by the Health Service Executive.

When she attended Sligo General Hospital on November 3, 2013, Ms Surlis was complaining of a headache, vomiting and had a dilated left pupil on her eye. However she was designated as category three ‘triaged’ case and left to wait for treatment for an additional three hours. ‘Triaged’ means that she was not treated as an immediate emergency requiring quick attention.

Doctors looked over her for symptoms of glaucoma and sent her home. However, she returned the very next day and, at this time, the severity of her ailments was “appreciated for the first time”.

Ms Surlis, who resides at Drinaum, Strokestown in Co Roscommon was moved to Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital on November 5 as she experienced a hemorrhage and severe/permanent injury. Mr Cush said the opinion of experts was that Ms Surlis, who now needs permanent care, will only slightly improve over the course of her life. She is aware of the severity of her condition and has difficulty communicating. However she can do so with the help of her close family members – three grown children and four sisters who live close to her.

It is claimed that if she had been sent to Beaumont when she first attended the Sligo Hospital she could have been treated in a correct manner and made a complete recovery and rehabilitation.

Now restricted to a wheelchair and living in a nursing home, Bernadette Surlis may realise her wish to return home in the future. Mr Justice Kevin Cross was advised that the misdiagnosis negligence settlement makes this a real possibility.

Judge Mr Justice Kevin Cross remarked that the medical misdiagnosis compensation settlement was a “reasonable and very good one”.

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Coombe Hospital to Pay €15m in Birth Injury Compensation to Donegal Boy

A €15 million infant compensation settlement has been approved at the High Courtfor a boy, now four years old, who sustained injuries at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin during his birth.

The hospital issued an apology to Eoin McCallig, who lives at Dunkineely in Co Donegal, and his parents for his devasting injuries he sustain while being delivered.

Following the apology, Eoin McCallig’s father Anthony said the family could forgive a genuine mistake. However, he stated that they could not accept the way HSE treated their family and others in similar cases.

Mr McCallig stated that he believes there must be a “better way” of handling cases involving devastatingly injured children than through litigation lasting years to a “bitter end” and last-minute settlement approvals. He told High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly that the culture and procedures needed to change and take more consideration for those who have suffered.

He claimed that the Health Service Executive has spent approximately €800m in the the last ten years in battling these legal actions. Mr McCallig stated that these funds could be put to much better use.

He said the compensation settlement of €15m infant compensation would never change what happened to Eoin, but it would provide some relief as they knew that Eoin would now be cared if anything happened to them.

Staff at the Coombe Hospital stopped monitoring Eoin’s heart rate at 9.30am on the morning of his birth, the High Court was told.

Eoin’s parents claimed that if he had been monitored after this, hospital staff would have seen he was in distress before he was born at around 11.30am. The court heard he had been deprived of oxygen in the 20 minutes just before he was delivered.

It was claimed that if their son had been monitored and delivered earlier, he would not have suffered such devastating injuries. The High Court was told Eoin was a very intelligent boy, but he cannot walk or talk and can communicate with others only using his eyes and expressions.

In a statement made public through their solicitor, Michael Boylan, Eoin McCallig’s parents said the infant compensation settlement was welcome but the family “would hand this €15 million settlement back in a heartbeat if Eoin could get back what was robbed from him in those two precious hours before his birth”.

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1,000 Irish Deaths Due to Medical Negligence Every Year

Roger Murray, Head of the Medical Negligence Department at a leading law firm, told a recent Pathways to Progress conference on medical negligence that around 1,000 unnecessary deaths are happening annually in Ireland due to medical mistakes.

Mr Murray, joint Managing partner at Callan Tansey solicitors, went on to say that up to 160,000 people attending hospital for treatments suffer injuries due to human error. Mr Tansey, speaking during September at the gathering of solicitors, medical professionals and patients, insisted that there is “no compo culture” present when it comes to medical negligence compensation action in Ireland. He saidthat what we are currently seeing in the legal system in Ireland is just “the top of a very murky iceberg”.

Mr Tansey who has represented clients in a number of high-profile medical negligence compensation legal actions said that he feels that not all people injured in medical incidents make it known it while the HSE is alerted of 34,170 “clinical incidents” every year. Just 575 of these incidents lead to compensation claims against the HSE, a rate of less than 1.7 per cent.

The most commonly experienced cases, according to Mr Murray, relate to surgery (36 per cent) medicine (24 per cent), maternity (23 per cent) and gynaecology (7.5 per cent).

He emphasised that while injured patients and families do have pity for medical professionals after they make mistakes what “they cannot abide is systemic and repeated errors”.

He called for inn depth reviews to be completed when mistakes do occur. Mr Murray said he had seen many inquests where families learned that reviews had been completed following a death and, despite this, and the results were not disseminated to appropriate staff who could have learned from them.



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Woman Awarded €58,500 Injury Compensation for a Fall in Hospital

A woman, who suffered a fractured spine in an accident at Dublin´s Mater Hospital, has been awarded €58,500 injury compensation for a fall in hospital.

The seventy-nine year old woman from Finglas in Dublin made her claim for injury compensation for a fall in hospital after the events of April 2015 when she visited the Mater Hospital for routine day surgery. The gastroscopy procedure she had been scheduled for went well, but she was left unattended in the recovery unit after the procedure and, while trying to get out of bed, she fell.

The woman suffered a fractured spine as a result of the accident and, rather than return home that evening as she was supposed to, she spent nearly a month in the hospital recovering from her injury. She was then transferred to the Clontarf Hospital in Dublin, where she spent a further three months as an inpatient receiving specialist care in the orthopaedic unit.

Now requiring regular care, the formerly active and independent woman wears a lumbar brace and needs the assistance of a Zimmer frame to walk. After seeking legal advice, she claimed injury compensation for a fall in a hospital against the Mater Hospital, alleging the hospital staff were negligent by failing to monitor her throughout her recovery.

At the Circuit Civil Court, Judge James O´Donohoe heard the woman had been previously hospitalised due to a fall at her home and, aware of this, the hospital should have monitored her at all times in compliance with its falls prevention policy. Unfortunately – according to an expert witness appearing on behalf of the woman – the hospital failed in its duty of care.

Commenting the plaintiff was not the same woman as she had been prior to her accident, Judge O´Donohoe awarded her €58,500 injury compensation for a fall in hospital. He gave the Mater Hospital leave to appeal the decision provided that a payment of €30,000 was made immediately.

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Judge Approves Settlement of Cerebral Palsy Claim for Compensation

A judge at the High Court has approved the settlement of a cerebral palsy claim for compensation that took eight years to resolve.

The cerebral palsy claim for compensation was made on behalf of a boy born at Cork University Hospital on August 11th 2008. Due to a multiple failures on the day of his delivery – and an avoidable delay in acting on a telling CTG trace – the boy suffered unrecognised foetal distress and was starved on oxygen in his mother´s womb.

As a result of hospital negligence, the boy was born with cerebral palsy. Now almost nine years of age, he suffers daily seizures due to his epilepsy, is confined to a wheelchair and has cognitive impairments that will prevent him from ever leading an independent life. He requires around-the-clock care which, until recently, was provided for him by his parents.

On their son´s behalf, his parents made a cerebral palsy claim for compensation against Cork University Hospital and the HSE. The HSE denied liability for the boy´s birth injuries until February, at which point legal representatives from both parties agreed a €15 million settlement of boy´s claim that will ensure his financial future and provide him with the care he needs for the rest of his expected life.

The details of the settlement were related to Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court, who – after hearing an impact statement read to the court by the boy´s mother – ordered that $720,000 of the settlement be paid to the boy´s parents in special damages. The remainder will be paid into court to be managed on the boy´s behalf. The boy will also become a ward of court.

An apology from the Cork University Hospital was also read to the court before the judge formally approved the settlement of the cerebral palsy claim for compensation. The judge closed the approval hearing by saying that the settlement was a good one and by wishing the boy and his family well for the future.

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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 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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