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.