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Hospital Negligence News

Swine Flu Vaccination Compensation Settlement of €1m Provides will ‘Secure some Kind of Future’ for 16-Year-Old Girl

Posted: October 29th, 2021

A swine flu vaccination compensation settlement of €1m has been approved for a 16-year-old girl who claims that she developed a rare sleep disorder and continues to suffer with sleep attacks  since she was administered with it.

The High Court was told that the Pandemrix vaccine was given to the now teenage girl when she was just five-years-old.

The girl’s counsel, Jonathan Kilfeather SC, informed the court that his client had been administered with the Pandemrix vaccine in March 2010. Following this, the Judge was informed, she developed narcolepsy and cataplexy which affects the muscles and requires lifelong medication. In order to try and control this affliction she must have two planned naps every day and deal with associated fatigue and anxiety.

Via her mother, the girl took a legal action against the Minister for Health, the HSE, and Glaxosmithkline Biologicals SA (GSK) — the producer of Pandemrix. The State has previously allowed for  an indemnity to GSK in relation to any adverse vaccination reactions. 

The Court was informed that the girl is hoping to seek work in fashion and art following school but, due to her condition, will only be in a position to work part time. Her mother told the court her daughter suffers with narcolepsy and cataplexy, which impact the muscles, and she experiences sleep attacks that leads to the sudden onslaught of sleep without any previous warning. 

The mother told the court: “In preparing for this case the enormity of the challenges facing our daughter in her life is hard to ignore. As a parent you only want the best for your child and this is why we are here today to secure some kind of future for our child which she was robbed of. Our daughter’s strong character will get her through life but we lament the life she could have had.”

Mr Justice Paul Coffey praised the mother for providing her statement and referred to it as “a most chastening summary” adding that he had no reluctance in giving his approval for the swine flu vaccine compensation settlement.

It was agreed, as per the terms of that settlement, that half of the settlement figure would be paid out. The court was earlier informed in relation to the extensive benefits in the settlement which provide educational support, accommodation costs in relation to third-level education, a “gold” medical card as well as childcare costs.

This settlement comes in the aftermath of the November 2020 settlement for a 16-year-old boy which set the way for the resolution of 80 cases over the Pandemrix vaccine.

€55k Medical Negligence Compensation Awarded to Family of Man Who Died Days after A&E Treatment

Posted: August 2nd, 2018

 €55,000 medical mistreatment compensation has been awarded to the family of an 82-year old man who died at Mayo General Hospital a few days after being rushed to A&E following a road accident.

The man in question, Darby King, who was on anti-coagulation medicine, was only prescribed blood clotting medication ten hours after he was taken to A&E it was alleged.

The accident, which occurred on April 24 2014, left Mr King with minor injuries. However, his condition worsened over the next few days and he died in hospital three days later. A verdict of medical misadventure was returned in a inquest hearing in 2015.

The inquest was advised that there had been “unacceptable delay” in administering blood-clotting medication greatly diminished his chances of survival.

In the High Court, Mr Justice Robert Eagar approved a settlement of €55,000 in the case.

Outside court, Mr King’s daughter, Caroline Murnane, on behalf of the King family said they were very happy to finally have closure on this case.

They said: “There are no words to describe what the past four years has done to us. “We were traumatised by Dad’s death and we have spent the last four years trying to get justice for him and to give him a a voice. We have been tormented every day by the events that unfolded the day Dad was admitted to the hospital. However, the verdict received from Dad’s inquest together with the court ruling will now allow us to move forward.”

Ms Murnane, of Clogher, Claremorris, Co Mayo, and her brother John King, of Drummin, Castlebar, had sued the HSE over the death of their father. It the compensation case they claimed that, as a result of the accident, Mr King suffered cuts to the face, nose and head and was confused.

Addtionally it was claimed that:

  • The advice was that the prognosis was inadequate and by the early hours of April 25, Mr King was considered for palliative care.
  • There was an alleged failure to diagnose a traumatic head injury and to prescribe blood clotting medication in a timely fashion.
  • There was an alleged failure to adhere to the advice of Beaumont Hospital to administer the blood clotting medication as quickly as possible.

The claims were denied by the defendents.

High Court Compensation Upheld after Appeal

Posted: November 9th, 2015

The HSE have lost an appeal against the amount of compensation paid to a cerebral palsy sufferer, though the case may still proceed to the Supreme Court for a final resolution.

When Gill Russell, from Aghada in Co. Cork, was born on the 12th July 2006, he was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy as a result of a “prolonged and totally chaotic” birth when he was delivered at the Erinville Hospital. Karen Russell, Gill’s mother, then proceeded to make a claim for birth injury compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE admitted liability for Gill’s injuries, and then an interim compensation settlement was awarded by the High Court until a dull assessment could be carried out.

In December of last year, the drawn-out claim was eventually resolved for a total of €13.5 million, meaning that this settlement was the largest ever awarded by the High Court for cerebral palsy damages. However, the HSE decided to appeal the award, and claimed that the judge presiding over the case – Mr Justice Kevin Cross – had not used an appropriate rate of interest in his calculations. The HSE stated that Judge Cross had used a lower rate of interest than that which was usual in the Irish courts when dealing with such a case.

When the case was heard at the Appeals Court earlier this month, a panel of three judges upheld the settlement made by the High Court. They said that, if a higher rate of interest were used, the result would mean the injured party would be forced to take “unjust and unacceptable” risks with their investment to ensure future security.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine, one of the three judges on the panel, said that it was not for the courts to determine how the recipient of an award was to invest it. She also commented that the Russell family and the HSE would not be in this circumstance if the government had enforced adequate legislation to allow for periodic payments.

Despite the decision of the Appeals Court, the case is unlikely to have come to a full conclusion. Some spectators warn that this award of compensation has set a precedent that could cost the State Claims Agency and insurers up to €10 billion over the next decade. The HSE has indicated its intentions to bring the case to the Supreme Court.

Court Hears of Birth Injuries due to the use of Syntocinin

Posted: May 6th, 2015

A High Court judge has approved a €2.1 million interim settlement of compensation after hearing of birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon.

In April, the State Claims Agency´s clinical risk advisor – Mary Godfrey – called for national guidelines to be introduced for the use of Syntocinon during labour to improve outcomes for mothers and babies. Ms Godfrey´s appeal came after the Agency released a report showing an alarming lack of consistency in the way Syntocinon is used in maternity units throughout Ireland.

Syntocinon is the brand name of oxytocin – a synthetic drug frequently used in maternity units to induce labour and accelerate contractions. For many expectant mothers it speeds up childbirth, helps the womb to contract after their child has been born and prevents excessive bleeding. However, Syntocinon can also cause adverse reactions with other medication and escalate foetal distress when an infant is deprived of oxygen in the womb.

A little over two weeks after Ms Godfrey raised concerns about the use of Syntocinon, a case came before the High Court concerning how a young boy – Patrick Brannigan of Castleblayeny, County Monaghan – suffered birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon at Cavan General Hospital in 2007. Patrick suffers from dyskinetic cerebral palsy, is barely able to communicate and is confined to a wheelchair.

The court heard how, after a CTG trace had shown indications of foetal distress, Syntocinon had been administered to Patrick´s mother – Niamh – to bring forward her labour. However, the increased level of contractions brought on by the drug resulted in Patrick being deprived of oxygen and suffering devastating birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon.

Through his mother Patrick made a claim for compensation for birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon and Cavan General Hospital admitted liability. A €2.1 interim settlement of compensation was negotiated and approved by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court. Judge Cross then adjourned the claim for birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon for three years so that reports can be compiled on Patrick´s future needs.

Judge Approves Settlement in Broken Knee Misdiagnosis Claim

Posted: May 3rd, 2014

A High Court judge has approved the settlement of a broken knee misdiagnosis claim in favour of a young female athlete who had been hoping to compete in the Special Olympics.

The Special Olympics World Games is a bi-annual sporting event for athletes with intellectual disabilities and, in May 2009, Amy Rose McGowan (now 31 years of age) from Trim in County Meath was training to represent Ireland in the Games that were scheduled to take place in Athens in the summer of 2011.

Unfortunately Amy Rose had fallen and hurt her knee during a 50 metre sprint, and had attended Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan, County Meath, for a precautionary x-ray on 8th May 2009. At the hospital, an x-ray was taken, and doctors diagnosed Amy Rose´s injury as soft tissue damage.

A few months later, Amy Rose attended her GP because the pain in her knee had not subsided; and it was due to this visit that a depressed fracture in her knee was discovered. The discovery of the fracture came too late for corrective intervention, and Amy Rose missed her opportunity to qualify for the games.

It was also determined that, due to the oversight of her injury, Amy Rose is likely to need knee replacement surgery later in life; and – after seeking legal advice – Amy Rose made a broken knee misdiagnosis claim against the hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE) through her mother – Collette McGowan.

After an investigation at Our Lady´s Hospital, the HSE admitted liability for Amy Rose´s injury and a settlement of €142,000 was agreed. However, as the broken knee misdiagnosis claim had been made on Amy Rose´s behalf due to her intellectual disability, it first had to be approved by a judge.

In the High Court, Mr Justice Michael Peart heard how Amy had previously won 34 medals and 10 trophies in athletics and swimming before the accident, and he invited her to show them to the court.

Stating that he was “very impressed and full of admiration” for Amy Rose, he added it was a pity that her athletics career had been cut short. After approving the settlement, Judge Peart adjourned the hearing after wishing Amy Rose a happy life with her family.

Judge Awards €25,000 Compensation for Failure to Recognise Surgical Complications

Posted: March 6th, 2014

A woman has been awarded €25,000 compensation for the failure to recognise surgical complications after suffering a near death experience following a Caesarean operation.

Honey Larkin (40) from Letterkenny in County Donegal made her claim for the failure to recognise surgical complications after giving birth at the Letterkenny General Hospital in January 2008.

Honey claimed in her action against the Health Service Executive and consultant gynaecologist Eddie Aboud that she began to haemorrhage internally after her baby was delivered by Caesarean section, and that she lost more than half of her blood volume by the time she was returned to the operating theatre more than one hour later.

Claiming that she had a near-death experience which has left her with a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Honey alleged that  the defendants failed to check or recognise she was bleeding profusely, and there was a failure to attach due significance – to or take appropriate action – in response to her distress signals.

Both the HSE and Mr Aboud denied the allegations, and said that Honey was treated in a timely and appropriate manner once the surgical complications had been recognised. However, Honey persisted with her claim for compensation for the failure to recognise surgical complications, and the case was heard at the High Court before Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the High Court, Judge Cross heard that no bleeding was apparent when Mr Aboud had finished the surgery; but, when he was called back to attend to Honey´s haemorrhage, he took full charge and performed the operation to successfully prevent the bleeding. The judge said that no blame could be attributed to the gynaecologist and he was dismissed from the action.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross did however find the HSE negligent in needlessly delaying the second operation, and awarded Honey €25,000 compensation for the failure to recognise surgical compensation for the distress she had experienced.

More Could be Done to Reduce Cases of Cerebral Palsy in Ireland Claims Senior Doctor

Posted: September 18th, 2013

A senior doctor has claimed that more could be done to reduce cases of cerebral palsy in Ireland and called on the HSE to provide more comprehensive cover for labour wards.

Dr Sam Coulter-Smith – Master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin – was speaking at a conference organised to hear from doctors, midwives, families and members of the legal profession on how preventable cases of cerebral palsy in Ireland could be reduced.

He told attendees that one of the major reasons for cases of cerebral palsy in Ireland was that consultants work under a contract which only requires them to be present in a hospital from 8.00 in the morning to 8.00 in the evening. Outside of these hours, a senior doctor may be on call, but he could be many miles away when a medical emergency occurs.

The doctor said that this situation often results in inexperienced medical staff having to make decisions which affect the healthcare of mothers and their babies and said “there needs to be twenty-four hour cover of labour wards by senior doctors to address this problem.”

Dr Coulter-Smith informed the conference delegates that the annual number of cases of cerebral palsy in Ireland has remained the same over the past twenty years despite more foetal monitoring and more deliveries being conducted by Caesarean section.

The doctor continued by explaining the situation at his own hospital, where a second level of experienced junior doctors has been introduced to provide cover for labour wards outside of consultants´ contracted hours.

However Dr Coulter-Smith admitted that the creation of a second level of experienced junior doctors had been contrary to the instructions to reduce the number of medical staff employed at the hospital provided by the HSE.

The doctor commented that the State currently pays €45 million each year in compensation payments to victims of cerebral palsy due to hospital negligence – an amount equivalent to the Rotunda Hospital´s annual budget – and he suggested that investing more to reduce the number of cases of cerebral palsy in Ireland may be a more prudent option.

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