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Liability Admitted by HSE in Claim for Inappropriate Cancer Treatment

The HSE has admitted liability in a claim for inappropriate cancer treatment, which will now be assessed by the High Court for an award of compensation.

In July 2010, Kevin McMahon (then fifty-eight years old) visited his GP with a hoarse voice. Kevin was referred to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick where doctors identified a lesion on the left side of his vocal chords and a biopsy was taken.

As there were concerns that the lesion was cancerous, Kevin was scheduled to have a second biopsy in October. The October appointment was subsequently cancelled and Kevin from Roxboro in County Limerick was not seen again until January 2011.

On the re-scheduled appointment the cancer was confirmed. Kevin was told he would have to have an urgent operation and later that month he underwent a fourteen-hour procedure to have his larynx removed. Kevin now has to speak through an artificial voice box.

Kevin later found out that the cancer could have been treated with targeted radiotherapy. After seeking legal advice, he made a claim for inappropriate cancer treatment against the Mid-Western Regional Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In the claim for inappropriate cancer treatment, Kevin alleged that there had been a failure to discuss the options available to him. As a consequence Kevin had been unable to give his informed consent for the removal of his larynx to take place.

It was also claimed that the delay in seeing him after the first biopsy had allowed the preventable development of the cancer and that, as a result of the hospital’s negligence, he had suffered significant and avoidable damage and distress.

The HSE declined to accept liability for Kevin’s unnecessary injuries until Tuesday this week – the day before his claim for inappropriate cancer treatment was scheduled to be heard in the High Court. The hearing has gone ahead but, rather than determine liability, Mr Justice Kevin Cross will be asked to assess how much compensation for inappropriate cancer treatment Kevin is entitled to.

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