201704.26
0

Claims for Birth Defects due to taking Epilim

Claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant have been made in France on behalf of up to 4,100 children with foetal valproate syndrome.

Epilim is the trade name of an anti-epilepsy drug that uses the active ingredient sodium valproate to control electrical activity in the brain. Introduced in France in 1967, Epilim was passed for use in Ireland in 1983, and is now also often prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, migraine and chronic pain.

At the time it was introduced into Ireland, claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant were being investigated in France. It was alleged that the sodium valproate entered the bloodstream as valproic acid, which caused foetal congenital and development issues.

The evidence of birth defects due to taking Epilim was considered inconclusive, and the drug continued to be prescribed to pregnant mothers. It was only in 2006 that the manufacturers of the drug – Sanofi – warned that sodium valproate may have adverse effects and advised the medical profession to advise pregnant mothers of the potential risks.

Research conducted several years later by France´s social affairs inspectorate – IGAS – found the majority of doctors and pharmacists were unaware of the risks associated with Epilim. The research prompted the inspectorate to conduct a small scale study in the Rhone-Alpes region last year, where a much higher than expected rate of birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant was discovered.

France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) looked deeper into the issue and researched the health of 8,701 children born between 2007 and 2014 whose mothers were known to have taken Epilim during their pregnancies. ANSM identified up to 4,100 children suffering from foetal valproate syndrome and discovered hundreds of Epilim-related stillbirths.

ANSM´s study has resulted in the families of those affected by the adverse effects of sodium valproate to form a class action in order to jointly make claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim. The families claim that Sanofi did not do enough to adequately inform the medical profession of the risks associate with the drug. It also claims the drug manufacturer failed to put adequate warning on its packaging.

In Ireland, the Disability Federation has called on the government to conduct an audit of children diagnose with foetal valproate syndrome. The organisation claims the scale of the problem in Ireland should be identified in order that adequate support measures are provided for families. If a member of your family has been affected by foetal valproate syndrome, and you would like to know more about claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant, you should speak with a solicitor.

201606.13
1

UN Says State should Allow Terminations for Fatal Foetal Abnormalities

The United Nations´ Human Rights Committee has said that Ireland should revise the Eighth Amendment to allow terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities.

Under Ireland´s current abortion laws, the right to life of an unborn child is protected by the Eighth Amendment. New laws were introduced in 2013 to allow abortions when the mother´s health is at risk, but a ban remains on terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities and inevitable miscarriages, and when a pregnancy is attributable to rape or incest.

Due to the ban on terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities, 21-weeks pregnant Amanda Mellet was forced to travel to the UK for a termination after being told that her unborn child would die in the womb or shortly after birth. Amanda endured a traumatic experience due to there being little information available to her before undergoing the procedure and no bereavement support available to her on her return to Ireland.

After founding the organization “Termination for Medical Reasons” in order to campaign for a change to the law, Amanda made a complaint to the United Nations´ Human Rights Committee through the Centre for Reproductive Rights – claiming that Ireland´s ban on terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities was discriminatory, cruel, inhuman and degrading.

Last week the Committee found in Amanda´s favour – saying that Amanda´s physical and emotional well-being had been jeopardised by Ireland´s position on terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities, that Amanda had been subjected to unnecessary financial and emotional suffering, and that the State should compensate her for failing to allow an abortion “in the familiar environment of her own country and under the care of health professionals whom she knew and trusted.”

The Human Rights Committee also said that Ireland should introduce laws – or revise the Eighth Amendment as necessary – in order to provide “effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland, and take measures to ensure that healthcare providers are in a position to supply full information on safe abortion services without fearing being subjected to criminal sanctions.”

Speaking after the decision of Human Rights Committee had been announced, Leah Hoctor – the European Regional Director for the Centre for Reproductive Rights – said: “The Irish Government must now comply with this ruling, redress the harm Ms Mellet suffered and reform its laws to ensure other women do not continue to face similar violations.”

201605.03
0

Final Delayed Delivery Compensation Settlement Approved in Court

A final delayed delivery compensation settlement has been approved in the High Court in favour of a sixteen-year-old girl who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Mary Malee was born at the Mayo General Hospital on 11th October 1999 after becoming distressed in the womb. Due to there being no consultant available to assist with the birth, Mary´s delivery was avoidably delayed by eighty minutes. By the time she was delivered by emergency Caesarean section, Mary had sustained brain damage due to a lack of oxygen and she now suffers from cerebral palsy.

Mary´s mother – Maura Malee from Swinford, County Mayo – claimed a delayed delivery compensation settlement from the Health Service Executive, alleging that there had been a failure by the Mayo General Hospital to ensure that a paediatrician was present after a deceleration of the foetal heart rate had been identified, and that the hospital´s negligence had led to the failure to deliver Mary in a timely manner.

In March 2014, an interim delayed delivery compensation settlement of €1.5 million was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine, who then adjourned the case for two years to allow for the introduction of a structured settlement system. As no system for the phased payment of compensation to catastrophically injured claimants has yet been introduced, Mary and her family returned to the High Court to hear the approval of a final delayed delivery compensation settlement.

At the hearing a statement was read to Mary by representatives of the Mayo General Hospital, who apologised for “the many challenges that you have faced as a result of the treatment provided to your mother Maura at the time of your birth” and who told Mr Justice Peter Kelley that a final delayed delivery compensation settlement of €5.56 million had been agreed with the family.

After hearing from Mary that “the stress of ongoing engagement with the HSE and the courts is not what I want”, the judge approved the final delayed delivery compensation settlement. Judge Kelly also described Mary as “heroic” for the challenges she has overcome so far in her life and commended her for her ambition to become an advocate for people with disabilities.

201509.26
2

Compensation Awards made by the High Court under Attack

A representative of the motor insurance industry has claimed that judges need educating about who pays for compensation awards made by the High Court.

The attack on compensation awards made by the High Court was made by Conor Faughan from AA Ireland, who was responding to the news that the average value of High Court personal injury settlements had increased from €227,000 in 2013 to €304,000 last year.

Mr Faughan said there was a need for judges to be educated so that they would understand that compensation awards made by the High Court are paid for by the country´s two million drivers. Although not strictly true (few road traffic accident claims are resolved in the High Court), Mr Faughan pointed out that the average value of assessments conducted by the Injuries Board had remained steady during the same period at around €22,600.

It has also been suggested that the increase in the average value of compensation awards made by the High Court could be due to changes made under the Courts and Civil Law Act 2013, which saw the minimum potential compensation level at which cases would be heard by the High Court from €38,092 to €60,000. Some observers believe that High Court judges are awarding a minimum compensation settlement of €60,000 when – prior to the increase – they would have awarded less.

Dorothea Dowling – founding chairperson of the Injuries Board, and the chair of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board – believes that plaintiffs are shunning Injuries Board assessments for higher compensation awards made by the High Court. Ms Dowling told the Independent: “The Department of Justice was forewarned well in advance. This is what happens when you increase the limits of the lower courts – it sends out the message that €38,000 is small money.”

Whereas Ms Dowling has a point, it is not a point that everybody shares. Earlier this year (In McGarry v McGarry) Mr Justice Bernard Barton criticised the government for not updating the injury compensation values published in the Book of Quantum since 2004. During the case, Judge Barton acknowledged that for all practical purposes the Book of Quantum was being ignored by the courts because it was so out of date and commented “it is unquestionably in the interests of the proper administration of justice that the Book be reviewed and be kept updated to properly reflect [compensation awards made by the High Court]”.

201506.15
0

Is an Anembryonic Pregnancy Misdiagnosis Medical Negligence in Ireland?

An anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis is medical negligence in Ireland but your entitlement to injury compensation will depend on several factors.

An anembryonic pregnancy occurs during the early stages of pregnancy when a fertilised egg implants in the uterus, but an embryo fails to develop. This often occurs when there are too many or too few chromosomes during fertilisation, and rather than the cells developing into an embryo, a placenta and membranes, only the placenta and membranes develop – fooling the body into believing it is still pregnant, because pregnancy hormones are still being produced which prevent a miscarriage.

The first suggestions of an anembryonic pregnancy (often called a “blighted ovum”) occur during an expectant mother´s first ultrasound – when the ultrasound fails to reveal an embryo within the gestational sac. If the diagnosis of an anembryonic pregnancy is confirmed, the patient will be given the option of a dilation and curettage procedure to remove the tissue from inside the uterus, administered methotrexate to induce a miscarriage, or allowed to wait until a miscarriage occurs naturally.

The Misdiagnosis of an Anembryonic Pregnancy

An anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis can occur in many different circumstances. Most commonly an expectant mother is misdiagnosed with an anembryonic pregnancy because she has a tilted ovum, hiding the living embryo from the view of the ultrasound. Embryos in women with a tilted uterus often appear one to two weeks behind, giving the impression that the embryo has died or miscarried.

The ultrasound machine used for the scan may be faulty, or the person operating the scan may not have sufficient experience or training to detect a foetal heartbeat when the foetus is apparently underdeveloped. Indeed, in 2011, the Health Service Executive had to apologise to twenty-four women – twenty-two of whom who were diagnosed as having miscarried, and then went on to have perfectly healthy children (the remaining two only miscarried after undergoing medical procedures to remove the foetus).

Is an Anembryonic Pregnancy Misdiagnosis Medical Negligence in Ireland?

An anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis is medical negligence in Ireland when a medical practitioner has demonstrated a poor professional performance – whether a lack of skill or a failure to apply that skill. Even when the anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis is due to a faulty ultrasound machine, the medical practitioner should have sought a second opinion or second scan before misdiagnosing an anembryonic pregnancy.

Whether or not you can claim compensation for an anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis depends on what happens after the misdiagnosis. If you have been misdiagnosed with an anembryonic pregnancy – and do not undergo any procedures to remove the foetus or induce a miscarriage – and subsequently a foetal heartbeat is discovered and you ultimately give birth to a healthy child, no loss or injury has occurred and you will not be eligible for compensation for an anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis.

If you are misdiagnosed with an anembryonic pregnancy and do undergo a procedure to miscarry the foetus – and it is subsequently discovered that there was a fault with the ultrasound or that a medical practitioner has made similar misdiagnoses before, and that you may have been carrying a healthy embryo – it may be possible to claim for anembryonic pregnancy misdiagnosis compensation.

In order for the claim to be successful, it will have to be shown that on the balance of probabilities you would have delivered a healthy child and that the misdiagnosis was the reason for you agreeing to the termination of the pregnancy. In this scenario, you will only be able to claim for your emotional distress. The law in Ireland states that a plaintiff´s right to compensation only comes into existence when they are born, and therefore you will be unable to claim compensation for the wrongful death of your child.

201505.12
1

Health Service Medical Negligence Claims Double in Five Years

According to figures released by the State Claims Agency, health service medical negligence claims against the HSE have almost doubled within the past five years.

The State Claims Agency recently reported that last year 936 health service medical negligence claims were lodged with the High Court – almost double the number reported in 2010. In addition to the new health service medical negligence claims, the State Claims Agency is already dealing with more than 3,000 historical claims dating back to 2013 or earlier, and a further 218 claims have already been lodged this year.

However, the State Claims Agency´s figures do not tell the whole story. The 936 health service medical negligence claims fail to take into account claims issued in the District Courts and Circuit Courts, or public liability claims for accidents to hospital visitors and employer liability claims when healthcare workers have been injured working in – or on behalf of – Irish Hospitals.

The number of health service medical negligence claims could continue to rise given the recent high-profile issues with the nation´s maternity services. The damming Hiqa report into failings at the Portlaoise Hospital prompted HSE chief Tony O´Brien to call for a “clear-out of uncompassionate staff”, but Health Minister Leo Varadkar is under the impression that “wall of silence” is responsible for the substantial increase in health service medical negligence claims.

Minister Varadkar has criticised an “open disclosure” initiative implemented in 2013 by the HSE and State Claims Agency. The initiative was failing to work the Minister said because hospital managers were failing to engage with patients who had a negative experience in Irish hospitals, and the patients were going to the courts to get answers to what went wrong.

“When something goes wrong, it’s OK to say that you’re sorry about what happened”, the minister commented. “It does not mean you’re accepting liability. There is a never a good reason to conceal the truth from a patient or their family once the facts are known. Aside from making sense from a human point of view, it’s the right thing to do financially”.

New legislation is being drawn up by the Department of Health to reinforce the policy of open disclosure so that healthcare workers can provide information to patients and their families without prejudicing future health service medical negligence claims. While the legislation is being drawn up, the number of outstanding health service medical negligence claims continues to increase.

201504.22
0

Claim for the Failure to Treat Meningitis Resolved in Court

A young boy´s claim for the failure to treat meningitis has been resolved in court with the approval of a €3.7 million interim settlement of compensation.

Matthew McGrath was admitted to Wexford General Hospital on 27th May 2004 at the age of 17 months after it was noticed that he was uncharacteristically drowsy and vomiting fluids. Matthew was diagnosed with Haemophilus Influenza Type B – which is known to lead on to meningitis – and he should have been administered antibiotics.

Overnight, Matthew´s condition deteriorated and he was identified as being in shock. Despite medical guidelines recommending against it when a patient is in shock, Matthew underwent a lumbar puncture procedure to confirm suspected meningitis – due to which a compression of the spinal cord took place and Matthew is now permanently paralysed.

Due to the failure to administer antibiotics when Matthew was first admitted to the hospital, and the subsequent inappropriate lumbar puncture, Matthew cannot move his arms or legs and can only breathe through a ventilator. He spent the next two years of his life in hospital until his parents were eventually allowed to care for their son at home.

Through his mother – Cathy McGrath of Gorey in County Wexford – Matthew made a claim for the failure to treat meningitis against the HSE – alleging that, if he had been treated with antibiotics and given fluids at the time of his admission into Wexford General Hospital, he would not have suffered such devastating injuries.

After an investigation into the claim for the failure to treat meningitis, the HSE admitted liability and issued an apology to Matthew´s parents. An interim compensation settlement of €3.7 million was agreed, but first had to be approved by a judge before payment could be made.

Consequently, at the High Court in Dublin, the circumstances of Matthew´s devastating and unnecessary injuries were related to Mr Justice Matthew Cross. Judge Cross approved the settlement, and adjourned the claim for the failure to treat meningitis for five years in order that reports into Matthew´s future needs can be conducted.

201504.15
0

Guidelines Could Prevent More Syntocinon Birth Injury Claims

The State Claims Agency has said that a consistent set of guidelines should be compiled for birth-inducing drugs to prevent more Syntocinon birth injury claims.

Syntocinon is the brand name in Ireland of oxytocin – a synthetic drug that is frequently used in maternity wards to induce labour and accelerate contractions. The benefits of Syntocinon are that the drug reduces the time spent in labour, prevents excessive bleeding and helps the womb to contract after childbirth.

However, when Syntocinon is administered, both mother and child need careful monitoring to observe any signs of an adverse reaction or foetal distress. Oxytocin is one of the top ten “high-alert medications” in hospitals, and the death of four babies at the Portlaoise Hospital has been attributed to the lack of adequate monitoring.

Children who survive the accelerated contractions have been known to suffer brain damage, and among a series of recent Syntocinon birth injury claims was one in February this year, in which an interim settlement of birth injury compensation amounting to €2.32 million was approved by the High Court.

The State Claims Agency – the authority that pays out when Syntocinon birth injury claims are resolved – recently conducted a study into the use of oxytocin in Irish hospitals, which showed that there is a lack of consistency in how the drug is administered and how the health of mothers and their babies is monitored.

The report revealed that staff at one maternity unit had no guidance on the drug´s use and that at another staff had to refer to a checklist. Thirteen hospitals had similar guidelines – although not entirely consistent, five hospitals had introduced protocols, three had introduced procedures and six relied on policies. Two of the hospitals provided no guidance at all on the monitoring of mothers and babies, and one failed to advise nursing staff on the dosage of oxytocin that should be administered.

Mary Godfrey – the clinical risk advisor at the State Claims Agency – said that the results of the survey were alarming and called for a consistent set of guidelines to be compiled for all birth-inducing drugs to improve outcomes for mothers and babies, and to prevent more Syntocinon birth injury claims being made against the state.

However Ms Godfrey failed to comment on an important area of the report which revealed “No service obtains explicit written consent from women prior to starting them on the drug.” Informed consent is a vital issue for the State Claims Agency to address if it genuinely wishes to prevent more Syntocinon birth injury claims.

201503.05
1

HSE Found Liable in Hydrocephalus Brain Injury Claim

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has been found liable in a hydrocephalus brain injury claim after a hearing at the High Court.

Ava Kiernan started displaying the symptoms of hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”) when she was just a few months old. In April 2008 – when she was three months old – Ave was examined by a public health nurse, who failed to act on her mother´s concerns or arrange a follow-up examination.

Hydrocephalus is caused by spinal fluid “pooling” in the skull because it has failed to drain from the brain. It is most commonly identified in children under the age of one year by a rapid expansion of the head´s circumference or “soft spot” bulges appearing around the skull.

A follow-up examination would have identified a rapid growth in the size of Ava´s head, but her skull was not measured again until September 2008, when the measurement – which would have been conducted in time to prevent Ava from suffering brain damage – was performed incorrectly.

Due to the nurse´s failure to act and the subsequent errors in the measurement of Ava´s head, the pressure from the spinal fluid resulted in Ava suffering brain damage. She now suffers from physical and mental disabilities and, on her behalf, Ava´s mother – Ruth Kiernan from Duleek in County Meath – made a hydrocephalus brain injury claim for compensation against the HSE.

The hydrocephalus brain injury claim was contested by the HSE, and the case went to the High Court in Dublin, where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Judge Cross found in Ava´s favour after a hearing that lasted three weeks. He deduced that if Ava had been recalled for a second examination four weeks after the April head measurement, or the subsequent September measurement of her head in September had been performed correctly, Ava´s hydrocephalus would have been identified.

Judge Cross continued to say that Ava´s hydrocephalus could have been diagnosed and treated before it resulted in permanent brain damage where it not for the public health nurse´s failure to act on Ruth´s concerns and the medical negligence in the second measurement. The judge adjourned the hydrocephalus brain injury claim so that an assessment can be conducted to determine Ava´s future needs and an appropriate damages settlement.

201502.18
0

Interim Settlement of a Cerebral Palsy Claim Approved

An interim settlement of a cerebral palsy claim against the Kerry General Hospital has been approved in court in favour of a three–year-old girl.

Skye Worthington was born at the Kerry General Hospital on April 22nd 2011 after her mother – Colleen – had been administered with syntocinon to accelerate her labour. Colleen´s contractions thereafter became very strong, but a prolonged deceleration of Skye´s heartbeat went unnoticed and the baby was starved of oxygen in the womb.

Due the brain damage she suffered at her birth, Skye – now three years of age – now suffers from cerebral palsy. She has to be fed through a tube and can only communicate with her eyes. An investigation into the circumstances of her delivery revealed that if Skye had been born fifteen minutes earlier, she would have suffered no injury at all.

Through her mother, Skye made a cerebral palsy claim against the Kerry General Hospital – alleging that, were it not for the negligence of the maternity staff, she would not have suffered a devastating birth injury. The hospital and HSE admitted liability and an interim settlement of the cerebral palsy claim was agreed pending an assessment of Skye´s future needs.

At the High Court, Skye´s patents and Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard a statement read to the court in which the HSE South/South-West Hospital Group and the maternity department of Kerry General Hospital apologised unreservedly for the errors that led to Skye´s birth injuries – an apology which Mr Justice Kevin Cross described as “out of the ordinary and very meaningful”.

The judge then explained to Skye´s parents that he was approving a €2.52 million interim settlement of the cerebral palsy claim and adjourning Skye´s case for three years. This meant that once the assessment of Skye´s needs had been completed, they could either request a lump sum final settlement of the cerebral palsy claim or – subject to legislation being introduced – annual periodic payments.

201412.11
0

Abuse of Care Home Residents Investigated by HSE

Alleged abuse of care home residents at the Áras Attracta care centre is being investigated by the HSE after being exposed in an RTÉ documentary.

The documentary about the Áras Attracta care centre in Swinford, County Mayo, formed part of RTÉ´s Primetime program which was broadcast earlier this week. The documentary was based on secretly recorded video footage which showed staff at the centre slapping, kicking, and physically restraining residents with intellectual disabilities.

The footage had been recorded by an undercover researcher, posing as a work experience student, after a whistleblower had contacted RTÉ with allegations of mistreatment. The researcher filmed the abuse of care home residents in Unit Three of Áras Attracta – a bungalow that is home to three women – which included the women being confined to their chairs for hours at a time.

Before the program was broadcast, RTÉ contacted the HSE – the body ultimately responsible for the standard of care at the centre – who described the actions of the staff portrayed in the footage as “totally unacceptable”. Several staff have been suspended as a result of the HSE´s intervention, and the HSE has also the Gardaí and the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

The director general of the HSE, Tony O’Brien, said in a statement: “Much of what was viewed on Primetime falls well below the standards that we expect in the health services. Such standards should not and will not be tolerated in the HSE.” He added: “At the centre of many of these examples of poor practice is individual responsibility of staff members.”

The HSE also issued an apology to the residents of Áras Attracta and their families for the abuse of care home residents that had taken place. The statement continued that the HSE did not wish to “pre-empt the findings of an independent investigation” but that it has taken a number of immediate actions to “guarantee that a safe and caring environment exists for the residents of Unit Three”.

Commenting on the alleged abuse of care home residents, Kathleen Lynch – Minister of State at the Department of Health – “I refuse to believe Áras Attracta is the only place where this is happening. We are looking at what other processes we can put in place.” A spokesman for the minister said later that the HSE had allocated €1.3 million towards setting up safeguarding and protection teams in order that allegations of abuse were fully investigated.

201409.24
0

Compensation for Teenager´s Birth Injury Approved in Court

A settlement of compensation for a teenager´s birth injury has been approved in court after a judge agreed it would be difficult to prove full liability.

Emma O´Donnell (16) from Aklow in County Wicklow was born at the National Maternity Hospital on 9th June 1998. Hours after her birth by suction, Emma started to have seizures and turned blue. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and has been cared for solely by her father – James Forde – since her natural mother was institutionalised in 2007 suffering from a significant bi-polar condition.

Emma needs round-the-clock care, suffers from an intellectual disability and has behavioural problems. On her behalf, James Forde made a claim for compensation for a teenager´s birth injury, but encountered difficulties establishing causation between the treatment Emma had received and negligence before and after her birth.

Emma´s solicitors had attempted to recover €9 million in compensation for the teenager´s birth injury, but the hospital and Health Service Executive placed value on the claim at €6 million – and only then if full proof of negligence could be established. Eventually a compromise was agreed in which the claim would be settled for €3 million provided it was approved by a judge.

Consequently, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns was told the tragic case of Emma´s life to date. He heard that the case had been brought so late in Emma´s life due to difficulties with liability and that the hospital had provided a letter of consent to a settlement of compensation for a teenager´s birth injury amounting to €3 million.

Judge Kearns agreed with Emma´s solicitors that it would be a hard case to prove if the claim went to a full hearing, and he approved the settlement of compensation for a teenager´s birth injury – describing the care that had been provided by James Forde as “heroic”.

201406.20
0

Interim Obstetrician Negligence Compensation Payment Approved

A High Court judge has approved a further interim payment of obstetrician negligence compensation in favour of an eight-year-old boy who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Luke Miggin of Athboy, County Meath, suffered brain damage prior his birth on 26th February 2006 at Mullingar General Hospital due to consultant obstetrician Michael Gannon failing to act on decelerations of the child´s heart rate recorded on CTG traces taken throughout the day.

Luke has cerebral palsy due to the obstetrician´s negligence, is confined to a wheelchair and will need 24-hour care for the rest of his life.

Liability for Luke´s birth injuries was admitted by Mr Gannon and the Health Service Executive in 2010 and, in January 2011, an interim settlement of obstetrician negligence compensation was approved by Mr Justice John Quirke, pending the introduction of legislation to allow for a structure settlement to be put in place.

However, with no such legislation yet available, Luke´s mother – Emily – had to return to court to have a further interim payment of obstetrician negligence compensation approved; where she was commended for her patience by Ms Justice Mary Irvine, who apologised for successive Ministers of Justice failing to deliver on their promises of periodic payments.

The judge approved a second interim obstetrician negligence compensation payment of €580,000 to add to the €1.35 million interim payment Luke received in 2011. The payment is in respect of Luke´s care for the next three years, after which time Emily Miggin will have to return to court once again for a further interim payment of compensation or to have the terms of a structured settlement approved.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine expressed her frustration at not being able to approve a final settlement of obstetrician negligence compensation, and commented that the ongoing litigation prevents families such as the Miggins from getting on with their lives.

201406.03
0

Meningitis Medical Negligence Claim Resolved at Court

A County Wicklow teenager´s meningitis medical negligence claim for compensation has been resolved after a High Court hearing at which her settlement of compensation was approved.

Laura Kavanagh (18) from Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow had fallen ill on 29 January 1998 at the age of thirteen months with a high temperature and severe fatigue. Her mother – Simone – had telephoned the surgery of Dr Frank Malone and Dr Paul Crean in Greystones in County Wicklow to communicate her daughter´s condition and had been told to keep an eye out for a rash.

Several hours later, Laura´s condition had deteriorated and Simone Kavanagh rang the surgery again – on this occasion speaking with Dr Crean, who said he would make a house call after surgery due to Simone not having transport available.

Three and a half hours later, Dr Crean arrived at the Kavanagh´s home and diagnosed a bowel infection. He left two suppositories and told Simone to call him back in the morning if Laura´s condition had not improved. The following day, Simone called the surgery requesting a home visit, but later cancelled the call as Laura seemed to be looking better.

However, the next morning Laura once again was very ill, and Simone was able to get an on-call doctor to visit straight away. He immediately admitted Laura to hospital, where she was diagnosed with severe meningitis.

As a result of the illness, Laura lost her hearing, and through her mother she made a meningitis medical negligence claim for compensation against Drs Malone and Crean, alleging that Dr Crean had failed to diagnose meningitis and that there had been a failure to attend Laura in good time, ensure proper care or any continuity of care.

The two doctors denied Laura´s meningitis medical negligence claim, however agreed a €5 million settlement of meningitis medical negligence compensation without admission of liability.

At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that if Laura had been admitted to hospital when Dr Crean misdiagnosed her condition as a bowel infection, it was likely that Laura would not have lost her hearing.

The judge was also told that after Laura lost her hearing, she learned to communicate through sign language and lip reading – but has a moderate intellectual disability. Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement of Laura´s meningitis medical negligence claim, saying that it would never give Laura the life she was meant to have.

201405.13
0

Family Receive Compensation for Failure to Diagnose Cancer

The family of a woman who died from an undiagnosed tumour in her abdomen is to receive €62,500 compensation for the failure to diagnose cancer.

Sharon McEneaney (31) from Carrickmacross in County Monaghan died in April 2009 from a cancerous tumour in her abdomen, eighteen months after she had first attended the emergency department of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda complaining of abdominal pain.

The cancerous tumour went undiagnosed for a further nine months, and was only identified after Sharon was given a biopsy due to the intervention of former TD Dr Rory O´Hanlon in June 2008. By then the tumour had developed to such as size that it was too late for any treatment, and Sharon died the following April.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation in Sharon´s death and made 38 recommendations to prevent future failures to diagnose cancer, while – in January 2012 – Dr Etop Samson Akpan was found guilty of a poor professional performance by the Medical Council of Ireland´s Fitness to Practise Committee.

At the High Court in Dublin, Margaret Swords – the General Manager of the Louth & Meath Hospital Group – read out an apology to the McEneaney family, admitting that the hospital had failed Sharon, but also stating that the hospital was making progress in making the changes required. The court heard that, five years after Sharon´s death, six of the HSE´s recommendations are still to be implemented.

The court also heard that a settlement of compensation for the failure to diagnose cancer had been agreed between the hospital and Sharon´s family, with €10,000 going towards Sharon´s funeral and other expenses connected with her death, €27,100 compensation for the failure to diagnose cancer going to Sharon´s mother Jane, and the remainder to be shared by Sharon´s four siblings.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine closed the hearing after commending Sharon´s family for their courage and tenacity, and commented “You have shown marvellous fortitude in the face of such a loss”.

201405.03
0

Compensation for Missed Knee Fracture Approved in Court

A young woman, whose opportunity to compete in the Special Olympics was denied due to medical negligence, has had her settlement of compensation for a missed knee fracture approved in court.

In May 2009, Amy Rose McGowan (now 31) was in training for the Special Olympics World Games that were scheduled to take place in the summer of 2011 in Athens. Unfortunately, while participating in a 50 metre training race, Amy Rose fell and hurt her knee.

Amy Rose attended Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan, where – after an x-ray had been taken – she was diagnosed with a soft tissue injury and her knee was strapped for support. However, a few months later, a pain started to develop in her knee and Amy Rose saw her GP.

 On inspection of her injury, her doctor discovered that Amy Rose had suffered a depressed fracture which had been overlooked at the hospital. Unfortunately the discovery was made too late for corrective surgery, and Amy Rose had to abandon her dreams of representing Ireland in Athens.

Through her mother – Charlotte McGowan of Trim, County Meath – Amy Rose made a claim for missed knee facture compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE), alleging that the care, diagnosis and treatment she had received in the emergency department of Our Lady’s Hospital had been negligent.

After an investigation, the HSE acknowledged that the depressed fracture had been overlooked by hospital staff and liability was admitted for Amy Roses´ knee injury. A settlement of compensation for a missed knee fracture was agreed; but, as the claim had been made on behalf of Amy Rose due to her intellectual disability, the settlement had to be approved by a judge.

Consequently, Mr Justice Michael Peart at the High Court in Dublin heard how Amy Rose had previously been a successful swimmer and athlete before her accident and had won 34 medals and 10 trophies. Approving the settlement of €142,000 the judge said it was a pity Amy Rose´s athletics career had been cut short.

201404.29
0

Court Approves Compensation for Delayed Delivery

The High Court has approved an interim settlement of €1.5 million compensation for the delayed delivery of a young girl who now has cerebral palsy due to the hospital´s alleged negligence.

Mary Malee (14) was born on 11th October 1999 by emergency Caesarean section at the Mayo General Hospital after there had been a delay in finding a consultant gynaecologist to assist with the delivery and an alleged breakdown in communicating her foetal distress.

As a result of the hospital´s alleged negligence, Mary is confined to a wheelchair after being born with cerebral palsy and now needs full-time support from her family. Despite her handicap, Mary is a bright and popular girl, who aims to go to university.

Mary made a compensation claim for the injuries she sustained through her mother – Maura Malee of Swinford, County Mayo – alleging that there had been a failure to intervene and perform a Caesarean section delivery in a timely manner when it became apparent that the foetus was suffering distress and likely to need resuscitation.

Mayo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE) both denied their liability for Mary´s cerebral palsy; but agreed to an interim settlement of compensation for a delayed delivery amounting to €1.5 million, with a further assessment of Mary´s needs to be conducted within two years.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that Maura Malee had attended the consultant gynaecologist who had delivered her three previous children three days before Mary was born. The gynaecologist had informed Maura that he would be unavailable for Mary´s delivery, as he was about to undergo treatment for cancer. However, he had told Maura that arrangements would be made for her to be transferred to another consultant.

Maura saw her family doctor the following day, and he told Maura to go to hospital immediately as she was showing symptoms of pre-eclampsia. Maura was admitted to Mayo General Hospital and transferred to the labour ward, where she underwent a CTG shortly before 6:00am which revealed a series of decelerations.

The first consultant that was called was unavailable to attend Mary´s birth, and second consultant arrived shortly before 7:00am. Allegedly there was a failure to communicate the severity of Maura´s condition, and the Caesarean delivery did not take place until after 7:20am.

In court, after Mary had read out a statement in which she commented “It would have been appreciated had the HSE/Mayo General Hospital said they were sorry”, Judge Irvine approved the interim settlement of compensation for a delayed delivery and adjourned the case.

201403.05
0

Judge Resolves Claim for Hospital´s Lack of Care after Birth

A judge has resolved a forty-year-old woman´s claim for a hospital´s lack of care after the birth of her child which resulted in a significant loss of blood due to haemorrhaging.

Honey Larkin brought her claim for a hospital´s lack of care after the birth of her child following the events of January 2008 at the Letterkenny General Hospital in County Donegal.

Honey had given birth to her final child by Caesarean section, but started haemorrhaging heavily while in recovery. Honey claimed in her action against consultant gynaecologist Eddie Aboud and the Health Service Executive (HSE) that she had a near-death experience due to the loss of blood while she was waiting for the hospital to arrange a further surgery to stop the bleeding.

Honey – who also comes from Letterkenny in County Donegal – claimed that neither the staff at the hospital nor Mr Aboud checked for indications of bleeding after the Caesarean operation; and when the cause of her distress was acknowledged the hospital failed to act appropriately within a reasonable timeframe. The result, Honey claimed, is that she now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Both Mr Aboud and the HSE contested Honey´s claim for the hospital´s lack of care after the birth of her child; entering the defence that she was treated appropriately throughout and after the Caesarean procedure, and in a timely manner once staff raised the alarm about the haemorrhage. Consequently the case went to the High Court and was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the hearing, Judge Cross was told that no internal haemorrhaging had been apparent when Mr Aboud had finished the Caesarean operation; but, when he was called back to attend to Honey, he performed the second operation quickly and successfully. Judge Cross said he felt that Mr Aboud could not be held liable for any of Honey´s suffering and dismissed the gynaecologist from the case.

However, after considering the actions of the hospital once Honey´s condition had been identified, Judge Cross found that the Letterkenny General Hospital had failed in their duty of care towards her. He ordered the HSE to pay €25,000 compensation in resolution of Honey´s claim for the hospital´s lack of care after the birth of her child.

201402.21
0

HSE Admits to Errors in Care at Birth – But Fails to Apologise

The High Court has been told that the HSE should apologise for errors in care at birth that resulted in a young girl suffering from dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Grace Orchard from Carrigaline in County Cork was born on 23rd February at St Finbarr´s Maternity Hospital in Cork shortly after her mother – Deidre O´Callaghan – had been given syntocinon to help bring on contractions.

According to the evidence presented at the High Court, the drug had been administered inappropriately and, as a consequence, it took four attempts to deliver Grace – including one using a vacuum cup – before she was eventually delivered with the use of forceps.

Due to the trauma she had endured, Grace had to be resuscitated after her delivery, and her face, head and forehead were badly bruised due to the force that had been used. Grace was subsequently diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy was attributed at the High Court to “appalling poor handling” during her birth.

Through her mother Grace (now seven years of age) claimed compensation for errors in care at her birth against St Finbarr´s Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE admitted liability for Grace´s injuries just two weeks before a schedule court hearing was due to commence.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Daniel Herbert was told that the claim for errors in care at birth was before him to be assessed for the level of damages that should be awarded to Grace. Judge Herbert was told by Grace´s counsel that the circumstances of her birth were tragic and that the HSE were yet to apologise for the injuries she had suffered.

The Court also heard that Grace´s family had done everything they could for her after she was born – including taking her to a specialist centre in New York for physiotherapy – and that Grace had been accepted into mainstream school where she was in the first class, but the services available to her at the school are being reduced due to cut-backs.

201312.03
0

Settlement of Claim for Fatal Hospital Errors Approved at Court

A family from Dromahair in County Sligo have heard the settlement of their claim for fatal hospital errors approved in the High Court following the death of Dhara Kivlehan three years ago from avoidable multiple organ failure.

On 20th September 2010, Dhara (29) was admitted to Sligo General Hospital for the delivery of her first child after having experienced painless contractions for two days. Dhara was two weeks passed her due date and, on examination, was exhibiting signs of pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure and fluid retention around her ankles (also known as oedema).

Blood taken from Dhara showed that she had abnormal kidney and liver function (a further symptom of pre-eclampsia), but no action was taken due the results of the blood tests not being communicated to Dhara´s doctors for twelve hours. The morning following her admission, Dhara gave birth to her son -Dior – by Caesarean Section and was transferred to a side room off of the main Maternity Ward.

While Dhara was in the side room, her condition started to deteriorate, but it was not until 4.45pm the following day that she was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit at Sligo General Hospital. At 11.00pm that evening, Dhara´s condition became critical and she was air-lifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast to receive specialist treatment.

Dhara died four days later due to multiple organ failure secondary to HELLP syndrome – a variant of pre-eclampsia – but, as yet, both the Belfast coroner and the Sligo coroner have declined requests to conduct a post-mortem.

Dhara´s husband – Michael – believing that the symptoms of haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and a low latelet count were not identified and treated in time to prevent his wife´s death, made a compensation claim for fatal hospital errors against the Health Service Executive (HSE) – alleging that the Sligo general Hospital had breached its duty of care and that the care provided for Dhara once she had given birth to Dior was negligent.

The HSE denied that there had been a failure in the duty of care by Sligo General Hospital in the treatment that Dhara had received, but Michael persevered with his claim, and a court hearing was scheduled to determine whether the HSE had a case to answer.

Shortly before the claim for fatal hospital errors was due to be presented in court, the HSE acknowledged that there had been shortcomings in the care provided for Dhara both before and after the birth of her son, and an €800,000 settlement of compensation for fatal hospital errors was negotiated.

At the High Court in Dublin, the family heard a statement read out to them in which the HSE apologised unreservedly for the errors that had been made which led to Dhara´s death and offered their condolences to Michael and Dior.

Following the apology, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement of compensation for fatal hospital errors, and also used the opportunity to criticise the HSE for “holding out until almost the bitter end” before admitting liability, and consequently causing the Kivlehan family unnecessary distress.

201311.27
0

New Symphysiotomy Compensation Plan Announced

The Government has proposed a new symphysiotomy compensation plan after its U-turn on extending the Statute of Limitations for women who underwent the procedure between the 1940s and 1980s.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly announced in a press conference that Judge Yvonne Murphy has been asked to examine the feasibility of a compensation scheme for women who underwent the controversial childbirth procedure, and who have been left with permanent injuries such as incontinence, difficulty with walking and chronic pain.

Judge Murphy has been asked to compile a series of compensation options for review in February 2014, to “assist in finding closure” for the women affected by the operation. Dr Reilly said that the Government would contribute to an ex gratia scheme if that is the symphysiotomy compensation plan recommended, and it is understood that Judge Murphy will be meeting with insurance companies to explore whether they would contribute towards such a scheme.

Originally Dr Reilly had said he would not oppose a private members bill introduced into the Dáil by Sinn Féin’s Health Spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin to allow a one-year window for the affected women to make claims for symphysiotomy compensation; however the Government were then told that such a move could result in a legal challenge by the insurance companies who would have been liable for compensating the women.

Sinn Féin’s health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin criticised plans to keep the statute of limitations in place. He said “The type of scheme outlined in the terms of reference offers the women no prospect of adequate compensation for what was so barbarically done to them nor the choice to pursue their rights in the courts.”

However Chairman of the support group Survivors of Symphysiotomy Ltd – Tom Moran – welcomed the announcement of a new symphysiotomy compensation plan. His comment was “We welcome this decision to appoint the judge and we hope it leads to women finally being given a chance of some kind of closure.”

201311.26
0

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.

201310.14
0

New articles online on personal injuries and medical negligence

Two comprehensive new personal injury articles published today.

The first article explains how to make medical negligence claims in Ireland.

http://www.injury-compensation.ie/medical-negligence-claim/

The article covers what constitutes medical negligence, the common types of medical negligence, the procedures for medical negligence claims, and the special rules for medical negligence of children.

The second article explains how to make personal injury claims in Ireland.

http://www.injury-compensation.ie/personal-injury-claim/

The article explains negligence, the role of the Injuries Board, the role of the solicitor, how claim settlements are calculated, third-party capture, special rules for children making personal injury claims, and contributory negligence.


201309.23
0

Families Can Claim Pandemrix Injury Compensation in the UK

Families in the UK have been told that they will be able to claim Pandemrix injury compensation for children who developed narcolepsy following the administration of the flu vaccine in 2009 and 2010.

Parents will be able to claim up to £120,000 Pandemrix injury compensation from the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme which is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the UK, provided that they are able to show that their child has suffered a severe disability.

If their claim for Pandemrix injury compensation is rejected, the families will still have the option of court action, but a DWP spokesperson said “The Department for Work and Pensions has looked at some vaccine damage payments cases again in light of new information regarding swine flu and narcolepsy provided by the Department for Health”.

The news comes just days after Health Minister James Reilly was criticised for comments he made about Pandemrix injury compensation in Ireland during a radio interview. The minister claimed that – to his knowledge – the financial assistance that had been requested by families in Ireland whose children had developed narcolepsy as a side effect of the vaccine had been provided.

However, the support group SOUND (Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder) objected to his remarks – stating that the assistance that was being provided was only temporary and alleging that the government had reneged on a promise to approve a permanent solution last year.

SOUND committee member Eilish Plunkett – who has a son who developed narcolepsy due to Pandemrix in 2010 – said that her son (Sean) has a permanent illness which needs permanent support. She added that the personal services and financial Pandemrix injury compensation could be withdrawn at any time under the current arrangements.

She claims that James Reilly made a commitment to the support group to have the recommendations made in the official report Investigation of an Increase in the Incidence of Narcolepsy in Children and Adolescents in 2009 and 2010” approved by the government before the 2012 summer recess. The report is still waiting to be heard.

Almost one million doses of Pandemrix were administered to children in Ireland due to the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009. SOUND provides support for families which contain children who are suffering from the side effects of the flu jab.

201309.17
2

DePuy ASR Hip Replacement Case Put Back Again

The twice-postponed DePuy ASR hip replacement court case has been put back in date again – this time after a change of plaintiff and a ruling about referring to the DePuy recall as evidence.

The first Federal DePuy ASR hip replacement case was delayed again last week after the parties in McCracken -v- DePuy (Case No 1:11 dp 20485) were allowed additional time by U.S. District Judge David A. Katz for discovery to take place and to deal with other legal matters.

The first `Bellwether` DePuy ASR hip replacement case has now been rescheduled for September 24th, and will revolve around the hip dislocation sustained by Ann McCracken (57) from Rochester in New York, which is alleged to have been due to metal particles displaced by her DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System causing the soft tissues around her hip to decay.

Ann had a DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System implanted in August 2009, but had to undergo revision surgery in January 2011 after she had suffered her dislocated hip. In October 2011, Ann had to undergo further surgery to insert a device restricting the movement of her hip, which has reduced her mobility and will result in her present hip replacement system wearing out quicker – resulting in another hip replacement operation in the future.

The latest delay is due to Judge Katz agreeing that the worldwide recall of the DePuy hip replacement systems should not be referred to in court – not only because the DePuy ASR hip replacement case to be heard on its individual merits, but DePuy´s lawyers successfully argued that any reference to the DePuy recall at trial might prevent other companies from voluntarily withdrawing potentially dangerous medical devices because of the legal consequences.

One of the purposes of this first ‘Bellwether’ DePuy ASR hip replacement case is to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the plaintiffs´ claims and DePuy Orthopaedic´s defence. If Ann´s case – and others still to be scheduled among the `Bellwether’ trials – results in a yardstick for compensation settlements, DePuy Orthopaedics are likely to negotiate settlement offers with the 7,800 plaintiffs also attached to this DePuy ASR hip replacement case through the consolidated multidistrict litigation (MDL).

If no compensation yardstick is established by the juries in each of the trials – or if there are both positive and negative verdicts returned – all of the remaining DePuy ASR hip replacement cases will be referred back to the US District Courts in which they were originally filed – each to be heard individually and prolonging the how long it will take for each plaintiff to receive a fair settlement of DePuy hip replacement injury compensation.

This second scenario would also have an impact on plaintiffs in Ireland who have made a claim for DePuy hip replacement injury compensation, as each DePuy ASR hip replacement case in Ireland would then have to go through the court process.

201308.20
0

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.

201307.05
1

Savita´s Husband seeks Compensation for Hospital Negligence

The husband of Savita Halappanavar has announced that he is seeking compensation for hospital negligence after the HSE report was release into the circumstances of her death in October last year.

Savita died at the University Hospital in Galway one week after having attended the Accident and Emergency department complaining of acute back pain. She was found to be in the process of miscarrying her 17 week foetus and was sent home.

Savita returned to the hospital later in the day as the pain had not subsided and was admitted under the care of consultant doctor Dr Katherine Astbury. Savita´s waters broke the following morning and requested a termination, but was told to “await events” as an abortion was not possible while there was still a foetal heartbeat.

Savita´s condition continued to deteriorate – during which time she was misdiagnosed by Dr Astbury as suffering from sepsis after the consultant doctor had failed to read the patient notes made the previous evening. Dr Astbury eventually consulted with a senior colleague about a termination, but a scan later revealed that Savita´s baby was already dead.

After being moved into theatre, Savita spontaneously delivered her deceased baby and was later moved into intensive care suffering from septic shock. The following morning it was discovered that Savita had developed severe septicaemia due to E.coli ESBL, due to which she became critically ill and, on Sunday October 28th, she suffered a cardiac arrest and died of multiple organ failure.

A verdict of medical misadventure was delivered at the inquest into Savita´s death, but a subsequent Health Service Executive investigation failed to identify who was to blame for the negligent treatment Savita received or acknowledge liability for her death; prompting family and friends to describe the investigation as a “whitewash”.

In order to get answers to the questions which remain after the investigation, Savita´s husband – Praveen Halappanavar –  has made a claim for compensation for hospital negligence against the University Hospital Galway and the HSE alleging that the hospital failed to treat, failed to follow up blood tests, and failed to diagnose.

The University Hospital Galway and the HSE have not yet indicated whether they will acknowledge liability before a court date is arranged to resolve the claim for hospital negligence compensation.

201305.30
0

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. 

201304.17
0

Statute of Limitations for Symphysiotomy Claims to be Set Aside

The Statute of Limitations for symphysiotomy claims moved one step closer to being set aside last night in order to allow surviving victims of symphysiotomy and pubiotomy procedures to claim compensation for their injuries.

Symphysiotomy and pubiotomy operations were carried out on mothers during childbirth from the 1940s until the 1990s in order to increase the size of the pelvic outlet to aid childbirth as an alternative to a Caesarean Section – often without the mother´s consent or knowledge.

The procedure involved cutting the cartilage between the pubic bones and breaking the pelvis – an operation which frequently left the mother in extreme pain, incontinent and with impaired mobility. Many women did not even know that they had undergone the procedure until their medical records were reviewed years later.

Due to the two-year Stature of Limitations for making personal injury claims in Ireland, nearly all of the women who underwent a symphysiotomy or pubiotomy have been time-barred from claiming compensation for injuries caused by a symphysiotomy or pubiotomy procedure.

Now, thanks to a Private Members Bill introduced into the Dáil by Sinn Féin’s Health Spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, women who underwent these procedures may have the opportunity to claim compensation for symphysiotomy injuries.

The Bill proposes that a one year window be allowed in the Statute of Limitations for symphysiotomy claims in order to allow women to recover compensation for symphysiotomy injuries through the courts. Last night, the Bill passed through its second stage in the Dáil and will now move onto committee stage.

Speaking in the Dáil, Health Minister Dr. James Reilly said the coalition would not oppose the proposed legislation to set aside the Statute of Limitations for symphysiotomy claims and received a warm reception when he announced that he would ensure closure for the survivors of symphysiotomy by the end of the year.

A spokesman for Dr. Reilly announced later that the Government is also examining how best to meet the health and social needs of women affected. The final Walsh Report, expected soon, should go some way to assisting the Government with the final drafting of the legislation which will temporarily set aside the Statute of Limitations for symphysiotomy claims.

201303.12
0

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.