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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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