An interim settlement of compensation for the failure to identify organ failure has been approved in favour of a man who has been in a coma since 2011.
In October 2011, Robert Bolton (71) had an operation at St James Hospital in Dublin to treat an oesophagus condition. The operation was initially considered to be successful. However, the morning after the operation, James suffered a heart attack due to a respiratory failure.
Robert was transferred to the intensive care unit of the hospital, where his condition deteriorated. Due to suffering from sepsis, Robert suffered a hypoxic ischaemic brain injury – leaving him in a coma from which he occasionally regains minimal consciousness.
Robert´s wife – Angela – had a solicitor investigate the standard of care Robert had received after his operation and during his stay in the intensive care unit. She subsequently claimed compensation for the failure to identify organ failure – alleging that the hospital had failed to diagnose Robert´s sepsis or met the generally accepted criteria for systemic inflammatory response.
The claim for compensation for the failure to identify organ failure was contested by the hospital, although there was a partial admission of liability in respect of the general level of care that had been provided for Robert.
An interim settlement of compensation for the failure to identify organ failure amounting to €550,000 was negotiated – an amount that should provide the twenty-four hour specialist care that Robert needs for the next two years.
As the claim had been made on behalf of a plaintiff unable to represent themselves, an approval hearing was scheduled at the High Court. At the hearing, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the circumstances of Robert´s heart attack, the alleged failings by the hospital, and the impact the alleged hospital negligence had on Robert´s wife and family.
Angela told Judge Cross that no amount of money would compensate for her husband´s condition, but the family was happy that Robert´s care would be provided for. The judge then approved the interim settlement of compensation for the failure to identify organ failure – commenting that the settlement was clearly the result of hard bargaining, and wishing Angela and her family all the best for the future.