Donal O’Sullivan, a widower who took a wrongful death compensation legal case against a doctor and the Health Service Executive (HSE) after his wife passed away just a day after a blood test indicated that she had low levels of potassium, has settled his High Court compensation action for €850,000.
The court was advised that mother-of-four Maureen O’Sullivan, who was in her 50s, should have been immediately taken to hospital after a test indicated she had dangerously low levels of potassium. As a result of this Mr O’Sullivan, from Crookstown Co Cork, sued Dr Therese Crotty of Main Street, Ballincollig, Co Cork, and the HSE in relation to the wrongful death of his wife on November 8, 2011.
It was claimed that on November 4, Ms O’Sullivan had attended Dr Crotty as she was experiencing palpitations. A blood test was completed and taken for analysis at Cork University Hospital. On November 7 the result showing severe hypokalaemia, a low level of potassium, was sent to the Doctor’s clinic in Ballincollig.
Dr Crotty, it is claimed, did not plan to admit Ms O’Sullivan to hospital immediately upon learning she suffered severe hypokalaemia. Neither did she advise the patient that this is what she was suffering from.
Additionally, it was claimed that the HSE did not properly indicate the importance of the abnormal blood test results to the doctor and that there was an absence of efficient systems of communication. Along with this, it was stated by Mr O’Sullivan’s legal representatives that the HSE had depended on a clerical officer to send the test results that they required urgent clinical attention.
In a letter that was read aloud to the court, Dr Crotty and the HSE apologised for their part in the events that led to Ms O’Sullivan’s passing. It referred to the O’Sullivan family on behalf of Dr Crotty remarking: “I deeply regret the tragic circumstances that led to the death of your wife, mother and sister Ms Maureen O’Sullivan. I apologise unreservedly for the part I played in the events leading up to her death. I am acutely conscious of the pain and suffering which this has caused to you all.”