Injury Compensation News

Doctor negligence claims for compensation have to show that “on the balance of probabilities” you, or somebody close to you, suffered an injury which could have been avoided had an alternative course of action been taken. A claim for doctor negligence compensation can originate from an incorrect prescription for medication to a misdiagnosis of cancer in the GPs surgery to wrong site surgery on the operating table in a hospital. Irrespective of the motive behind making doctor negligence claims for compensation, it is in your best interests to discuss your claim for doctor negligence compensation with an experienced personal injury solicitor.

Judgement Reserved in Test Result Mix-Up Claim

Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon has reserved judgement in a test result mix-up claim for compensation in which a woman was incorrectly told she had the HIV virus.

Judge O´Hanlon at the High Court heard that Michelle Kenny (35) from Crumlin in Dublin had returned from a  holiday in Majorca feeling unwell and – on 17th August 2010 – attended the St James Hospital in Dublin, where she underwent an ECG and blood tests, and had an x-ray taken of her chest.

Michelle was kept in hospital for a week as doctors believed she may have a blood clot on her lung, but was discharged on August 23rd to await the result of a blood test for TB. When she returned to the Outpatients Clinic on October 6th for an assessment, Michelle also underwent a blood test for HIV.

The following week, Michelle´s doctor rang her to say that, although she was clear of TB, her HIV test result had indicated positive. Three further tests showed that a mistake had been made, and that Michelle was not at risk from the HIV virus; however, as Michelle told the court, “I was devastated. I thought I was going to die, that I had no future.”

After an investigation revealed that the doctor at St James Hospital had given her the wrong person´s results, Michelle sought legal advice and made a compensation claim for nervous shock against the hospital – alleging that the news, albeit wrong, had stopped her socializing and caused a change in her lifestyle.

St James contested the test result mix-up claim for compensation on the grounds that Michelle had not suffered any loss or damage. They argued that Michelle had been told quickly after the mistake had been identified that she did not have HIV and denied that she was entitled to any compensation for a test result mix-up.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon said she would reserve judgement on the claim for test result mix-up compensation for a later date.

Posted in Delayed Diagnosis, Doctor Negligence Claims, Hospital Negligence Claims, Mental Stress Claims, Psychological Injury Claims - Comments Off

Interim Payment of Compensation for Cerebral Palsy Approved

A High Court judge has approved an interim payment of cerebral palsy compensation for a 12 year old girl who sustained birth injuries due to the negligence of an obstetric consultant.

Roisin Conroy was born at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portloaise on 14th November 2001, four days after her mother – Mary Conroy of Portlaoise, County Laois – had attended the hospital, believing that her waters had broke. Mary was sent home after being reassured that everything was okay but, three days after attended the clinic of Dr John Corristine – her private consultant obstetrician – and, following an ultrasound at the clinic, Mary insisted she be admitted into hospital.

A CTG scan conducted at the hospital failed to indicate any sign of contractions, and Mary was advised to take a bath. However, there was insufficient hot water was available at the hospital so Dr Corristine prescribed Mary with some medicine to induce labour. Thereafter, Dr Corristine was not present during Mary´s labour or Roisin´s birth the next day.

When Roisin was born the following morning, she suffered seizures soon after her birth and was transferred to a neo-natal unit in Dublin. However, her condition failed to improve and Roisin was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy – due to which she is permanently disabled and can only communication using eye movement.

Mary blamed herself for Roisin´s condition, and insisted on having her next two children delivered by Caesarean Section. Both Mary and her husband Kevin gave up work to look after Roisin, believing what the hospital had told them that nothing could have been done to avoid the tragedy and that the couple had just been unlucky.

An investigation was launched into the circumstances Roisin´s birth after the couple had spoken with a solicitor and, with evidence of negligence against both the hospital and the obstetric consultant, Kevin and Mary made a claim for cerebral palsy against both the Health Service executive (HSE) and Dr Corristine on their daughter´s behalf.

Both the defendants denied their responsibilities for Roisin´s injuries for almost two years until – five weeks before a scheduled court hearing – the hospital and Dr Corristine admitted that errors had been made in the management of Mary´s pregnancy which led to Roisin suffering birth injuries.

An interim payment of compensation for cerebral palsy amounting to €2.3 million was negotiated between the parties and, at the High Court in Dublin, the interim payment of compensation for cerebral palsy was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

The family also heard an apology read to them by an HSE representative and Dr Corristine, after which Ms Justice Mary Irvine adjourned the case for two years so that an assessment of Roisin´s future needs can be made and to allow time for the introduction of a system of structured compensation payments.

Posted in Birth Injury Claims, Children's Injury Claims, Compensation for Long Term Injuries, Doctor Negligence Claims, Hospital Negligence Claims, Medical Negligence Claims, Structured Injury Settlements - No Comments »

Second Interim Cerebral Palsy Compensation Payment Approved

A High Court judge has approved a second interim cerebral palsy compensation payment for a young girl who was born with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy in 2004 due to the negligence of her mother´s consultant.

Isabelle Sheehan (now 8 years of age) was born at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in Cork on November 29th 2004 by emergency Caesarean Section, after a blood test on her mother – Catherine – had revealed an alarming rise in the presence of certain blood group antibodies.

Unfortunately, Catherine Sheehan´s consultant doctor – Dr David Corr – had failed to refer Catherine to an expert in foetal medicine, who would have identified potential difficulties with the pregnancy due to a clash between the antibodies in Catherine´s blood and those of her husband – Colm Sheehan.

When Isabelle was born, she was in a poor condition and was diagnosed with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Through her mother, Isabelle made a claim for compensation for the negligence of the consultant doctor, who admitted liability for Isabelle´s injuries when the case was first heard in October 2011.

At the original hearing, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill approved an interim cerebral palsy compensation payment of €1.9 million, and adjourned the case for two years in the hope that a structured compensation payments system would be in place to assure a life time of care for Isabelle.

However, as no legislation has yet been passed in Ireland which would allow a structured system of compensation payments, the case was back in front of Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who heard that a further interim cerebral palsy compensation payment of €635,000 had been agreed between the parties to provide the care that Isabelle needs for a further two years.

After hearing that Isabelle is “bright and intelligent” and keeping up with children in her mainstream national school class with the help of a home assistant, Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the interim cerebral palsy compensation payment, adjourned the case for a further two years and wished Isabelle a very good future.

Posted in Children's Injury Claims, Compensation for Long Term Injuries, Doctor Negligence Claims, Structured Injury Settlements - No Comments »

RCSI says Most GP Malpractice Claims are due to Misdiagnoses

A report compiled for the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) indicates that the majority of GP malpractice claims for compensation are due to missed or delayed diagnoses.

The report, which was prepared by the Centre for Primary Care Research in Dublin, was undertaken to identify which areas of primary care should be focused on when planning future educational strategies and developing risk management systems for primary healthcare professionals.

It revealed that GP malpractice claims often featured missed diagnoses and medication errors, with the delayed diagnosis of breast cancer and colon cancer being responsible for more malpractice claims against GPs than any other form of medical negligence.

Lead researcher of the report – Dr Emma Wallace – acknowledged that family doctors are practicing more defensively as the number of malpractice claims in Ireland increases, and this has led to more patients being unnecessarily referred to consultants – enabling an identifiable condition to deteriorate.

In addition to the misdiagnosis of breast and colon cancer, the report identified other cancers which were often misdiagnosed or identified later than they should have been. These included cancers of the skin, female genital tract and lungs; while children with appendicitis and meningitis were most likely to be misdiagnosed.

Admitting that GP malpractice claims are “not a perfect substitute for adverse events”, Dr Wallace – who is herself a GP – said that when malpractice claims are made against GPs, the doctors facing litigation often experience higher levels of stress – reducing the level of service they are able to offer and placing more patients at risk of a missed diagnosis or medication error.

She commented “this systematic review is timely considering the increased interest in focusing on primary care as a way of improving patient care and safety” and hoped that the review provided an insight into the types and causes of adverse effects in clinical practice which would reduce the number of GP malpractice claims in Ireland.

Posted in Delayed Diagnosis, Doctor Negligence Claims, Hospital Negligence Claims, Incorrect Medication Claims, Medical Negligence Claims - No Comments »

Family Settle Compensation Claim against the HSE

The High Court has heard that a family has settled its compensation claim against the HSE, made after the death of Eileen Maloney at Mayo General Hospital in February 2009.

Eileen (69) from Pullathomas in County Mayo had been admitted to Mayo General Hospital on 1st February 2009 complaining of a severe pain in the abdomen. Because it was the weekend and no doctor was available, the family alleged that an X-ray showing an obstruction in her small intestine was not reviewed and her perforated bowel misdiagnosed.

It was not until the following Friday that Eileen was given a CT scan – which revealed a tumour had developed in her large bowel – but despite Eileen being in constant pain, surgery was not scheduled until the Thursday of the next week. The family claimed in their action against the HSE that, had this scan be reviewed properly, Eileen´s perforated bowel would have been identified and surgery brought forward.

Eileen died five days after the operation to remove the tumour, and the family alleged in their compensation claim against the HSE they were told that Eileen – who was suffering from cancer – would have survived the surgery, and would have had at least six months to live, had the correct diagnosis been made at the time of her admission and the appropriate treatment provided.

Mayo general Hospital and the HSE denied their responsibility for Eileen´s wrongful death and disputed the family´s right to claim compensation for mental anguish due to hospital negligence. However, at the High Court, Mr Justice Michael Peart was told that an agreement had been reached which would see the compensation claim against the HSE settled for €50,000 without admission of liability.

After hearing the circumstances of Eileen´s death – which Mr Justice Michael Peart described as “very, very tragic” – the judge approved the settlement of the family´s claim.

Posted in Delayed Diagnosis, Doctor Negligence Claims, Failure to Diagnose, Hospital Death Settlements, Hospital Negligence Claims - No Comments »

Court Approves Interim Cerebral Palsy Compensation Settlement

An interim cerebral palsy compensation settlement has been approved in the High Court for a thirteen-year-old boy who sustained irreversible brain damage during his birth.

Ryan Brennan from Cahir in County Tipperary was born at St. Joseph´s Hospital in Clonmel in January 2000; hours after abnormalities had been discovered in the foetal heart rate tracing. Following his delivery, Ryan had to be resuscitated and later in the day suffered seizures.

It was claimed by Ryan´s parents – Lorraine and Raymond – that Ryan suffered irreversible brain damage and cerebral palsy due to a failure to act by the hospital´s consultant obstetrician – Dr Brendan Powell – and that Ryan´s injuries could have been avoided if staff at the hospital had acted with greater diligence.

On behalf of their son, the Brennans made a claim for cerebral palsy compensation against Dr Powell and the Health Service Executive (HSE) for alleged negligence, breach of duty and breach of contract.

The two defendants denied responsibility for Ryan´s injuries but, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that an interim cerebral palsy compensation settlement of €1.7 million had been agreed with the HSE without admission of liability and that the claim against Dr Powell could be struck out.

The interim settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy is for two years to allow for reports on Ryan´s future needs to be conducted and to allow for the possible introduction of a periodic payment system. After commenting that the settlement was ‘in the upper parameters of these types of cases’, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement.

Posted in Birth Injury Claims, Brain Injury Compensation, Compensation for Long Term Injuries, Doctor Negligence Claims, Hospital Negligence Claims, Structured Injury Settlements - No Comments »

Call for Better Access to Legal Aid for Medical Negligence

Speakers at a major Justice for Health conference in Dublin have called on the government to provide better access to Legal Aid for Medical Negligence.

Delegates at the conference recently hosted at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel by Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) heard guest speakers including Sheila O´Connor from Patient Focus and Dublin City Coroner, Dr Brian Farrell, discuss whether it was now harder than ever for those affected by medical negligence in Ireland to seek justice and if the lack of accessible legal aid for medical negligence claims was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The conference was chaired by AvMA´s Chief Executive, Peter Walsh, who told the conference over 100,000 ‘adverse events’ were reported in the health system by the Health Service Executive (HSE) last year. Although not every ‘adverse event’ would necessarily result in an injury, only 635 court summons were issued in respect of medical negligence claims and it was the conference´s opinion that thousands of patients are unable to take legal action against a negligent medical practitioner or hospital because access to legal aid for medical negligence is limited.

Legal Aid for Medical Negligence

Access to legal aid for medical negligence compensation claims in Ireland is currently means tested and only available to those with a small disposable income. Even those simply enquiring to find out if they are qualified to make a medical negligence compensation claim are expected to contribute towards the costs of running the Legal Aid Board.

Footnote: If you have suffered a loss, an injury or the preventable deterioration of an existing condition which you believe may be due to an ‘adverse medical event’, many medical negligence solicitors in Ireland will offer free, confidential legal advice without any pressure on you to make a medical negligence compensation claim thereafter. 

Posted in Doctor Negligence Claims, Hospital Negligence Claims, Medical Negligence Claims - No Comments »

Claim for Birth Injuries due to Lack of Staff Resolved in Court

The family of a girl who suffered brain damage at her birth due to hospital obstetric negligence have had their claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff resolved at the High Court in Dublin.

Alex Butler (8) from Dunmore East, County Waterford, was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005; however, due to the hospital´s failure to have an adequate number of properly trained competent medical staff to deal with the Alex´s delivery, and to ensure that an adequate and properly competent obstetrician was available, Alex´s delivery was delayed by twelve minutes – during which time she suffered brain damage which led to permanent tetraplegic injury.

Through her mother – Sonya – Alex made a claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff at the hospital, alleging that her consultant obstetrician had been allowed to take leave at the same time as the hospital´s two other obstetricians and that the hospital had employed a locum obstetrician without ensuring that he competent. It was further claimed that Sonya´s pre-operative assessment was substandard and there was a failure to recognise the necessity for a Caesarean section.

The High Court heard that the Health Service Executive (HSE) admitted liability for Alex´s injuries, and the claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff against the consultant obstetrician – John Bermingham – and locum obstetrician – Mahmud Khbuli – were dismissed. A representative from Waterford read out an apology for the mismanagement of Alex´s birth and accepted that the mistakes that were made should never have happened.

The Court also heard that an interim settlement of Alex´s claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff amounting to €1.4 million had been agreed upon between the HSE and Alex´s parents. The compensation settlement is to be reviewed again in two years when an assessment of Alex´s care needs for the future has been made, and by which time it is hoped that the option of a structured settlement is available.

Posted in Birth Injury Claims, Brain Injury Compensation, Children's Injury Claims, Compensation for Long Term Injuries, Delayed Diagnosis, Doctor Negligence Claims, Failure to Diagnose, Hospital Negligence Claims, Structured Injury Settlements - No Comments »

Woman Awarded Compensation for Injuries from Symphysiotomy

A woman, who underwent a symphysiotomy procedure at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in 2000, has been awarded €591,297 compensation for injuries from symphysiotomy by the High Court.

Tracey Nelson (45) from Navan in County Meath underwent the procedure prior to the delivery of her second child, when medical staff at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda failed to correctly diagnose the symptoms of symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD).

After suffering for many years with the physical discomfort from the symphysiotomy, Tracey underwent surgery in 2004 to stabilise her condition and again, in 2007, had to have a spinal cord stimulator fitted – since when Tracey has been relatively free of pain.

However, as Tracey related to Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill at the High Court, she has also suffered emotionally due to the negligence of the medical staff who failed in their duty of care to manage her pregnancy.

Tracey told the court she had developed fibromyalgia – where she had constant pain in her muscles and joints – and due to the pain, started to drink alcohol heavily. This resulted in the break-up of her marriage and, in turn, to depression.

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital denied their liability for Tracey´s injuries, but Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill ruled that he was satisfied from the medical evidence there was a failure to diagnose SPD on February 2nd when Tracey attended the hospital complaining of pain in the pelvic area.

The judge said there was no doubt that the “primary cause” of Tracey´s physical and psychological injuries was the negligence of the HSE and “terrible consequences” of it. “I am quite satisfied that the failures in this regard fell substantially below the standard of care to be expected of doctors practising obstetrics in a maternity unit such as Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda,” he said.

Awarding Tracey €591,297 in compensation for injuries from symphysiotomy, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill said that he was also satisfied the doctors and midwives who attended Ms Nelson were “oblivious” to her SPD condition and consequently took no precautions to prevent the risk of avoidable injury during the course of her labour.

Posted in Birth Injury Claims, Compensation for Long Term Injuries, Delayed Diagnosis, Doctor Negligence Claims, Failure to Diagnose, Hospital Negligence Claims, Medical Negligence Claims, Mental Stress Claims, Psychological Injury Claims, Surgical Negligence Claims - No Comments »

High Court Awards Compensation for a Failed Sterilisation

The High Court has awarded a mother €100,000 compensation for a failed sterilisation after the son she was never supposed to give birth to died after only six months of life.

Karen Hurley-Ahern (41) from Newcastlewest, County Limerick, underwent the sterilisation procedure in February 2001 after discovering from her GP that she had a rare blood-clotting disorder that would pose a risk to herself and her unborn child if ever she were to fall pregnant again.

The operation was performed by gynaecologist Dr Victor Moore at the Tralee General Hospital in County Kerry, but in April 2002 Karen fell pregnant again and, after a difficult pregnancy, gave birth to baby Samuel on 10th October 2002 – six weeks early and by emergency Caesarean section.

Samuel suffered from severe abnormalities which were unrelated to Karen´s sterilisation procedure, and remained in hospital for six months – kept alive by a series of life -support machines. In April 2003, Samuel suffered a severe heart attack and Karen and her partner – Garrett Ahern – made the painful decision to switch off the life-support machines.

After seeking legal advice, Karen and Garrett made a claim for failed sterilisation compensation against Dr Moore and the Southern Health Board (now the Health Service Executive), for the suffering and trauma the couple had been through due to the unsuccessful procedure.

Dr Moore and the HSE denied liability – claiming that the procedure had been performed correctly and the couple had been warned that there was a risk of failure. However, in the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Sean Ryan found in favour of the now-separated claimants – acknowledging that Samuel´s disability was not a consequence of the failed sterilisation procedure, but stating that Karen had suffered to a significant extent due to the defendant´s negligence.

Awarding Karen €100,000 compensation for a failed sterilisation, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said that the award of compensation was in respect of the worry she had experienced when she discovered she was pregnant, the pain of childbirth, the distress of Samuel´s condition and distress after his death. However, no award was made to Garrett as – according to Mt Justice Sean Ryan – while he had undoubtedly endured emotional anguish, there was no proof Garrett had suffered a defined psychiatric injury.

Posted in Birth Injury Claims, Doctor Negligence Claims, Hospital Death Settlements, Medical Negligence Claims, Professional Negligence, Psychological Injury Claims, Surgical Negligence Claims - No Comments »