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Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Apologises for Wrongful Death due to Failing to Diagnose Cancer

A family has received an apology from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda for a wrongful death due to failing to diagnose cancer.

The family of Sharon McEneaney from Carrickmacross in County Monaghan – who died in April 2009 from a cancerous tumour in her abdomen – were at the High Court when they heard an apology read to them by a representative of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, were Sharon attended complaining of a pain in her abdomen in October 2007.

The court heard how attending physician Dr Etop Samson Akpan failed to consider the potential of a tumour, and it was not until former TD Dr Rory O´Hanlon intervened on Sharon´s behalf that she was given a biopsy in June 2008.  By then the abdomen cancer had developed beyond the stage at which it could be treated. Sharon died ten months later.

The court was also told that a report compiled by the Health Service Executive (HSE) after an investigation into Sharon´s death made thirty-eight recommendations for the future prevention of a wrongful death due to failing to diagnose cancer and that Dr Akpan was found guilty of a poor professional performance at a hearing of the Medical Council of Ireland´s Fitness to Practise Committee in January 2012.

The apology to the family was read by Margaret Swords – the General Manager of the Louth & Meath Hospital Group – who admitted that Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital had failed Sharon and that the hospital was making progress in implementing the HSE´s recommendations. The court also heard that a settlement of compensation for a wrongful death due to failing to diagnose cancer had been agreed amounting to €62,500.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that €10,000 of the settlement was going to cover the cost of Sharon´s funeral and other expenses related to her death, while Sharon´s mother – Jane – is to receive €27,100, and the remainder to be divided between Sharon´s four brothers and sisters. The judge heard that the family was satisfied with Ms Swords´ apology and the terms of the settlement.

Closing the hearing, Judge Irvine said that the McEneaney family had shown “courage and tenacity” throughout the inquest into Sharon´s death and “marvellous fortitude” in the face of such a tragic loss.

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