Medical Negligence in Ireland

Medical negligence in Ireland is not limited to negligence which occurs in hospitals. Dentists, midwives and chiropractors can all be guilty of medical negligence in Ireland when they are responsible for a loss or injury due to a lack of professional skill or the ability to demonstrate that skill. Claiming compensation for medical negligence can be difficult without the assistance of medical experts to attest that “on the balance of probabilities” an avoidable loss or injury has been sustained due to a lack of care, and it is therefore recommended that you speak with one of our courteous and professional solicitors at the earliest possible opportunity to receive accurate and impartial advice about your claim for medical negligence in Ireland.

Wrongful Birth Compensation of €1.8m Awarded Following Incorrect Foetus Test

Posted on: June 21st, 2018

The first ever wrongful birth case in Ireland has been settled for an interim payment of €1.8m after a mother, who is a carrier of a rare genetic condition,  claimed she was deprived of her right to travel for an abortion.

Her baby was delivered with the same disabling condition after a prenatal test on the foetus for that condition came back with a normal result.

This is the first ever case for wrongful birth, based upon the right to travel, that has been successful at the High Court.

The mother advised the High Court that she had planned to exercise her constitutional right to travel to the England for an abortion if the test had returned results showing that her unborn child had the same debilitating genetic condition. However, her child was born with the this condition and now requires 24-hour care. The mother alleges that, based on the test results, she was deprived of the ability to have an informed consent and to make an informed choice in respect of the continuance of her pregnancy.

Legal Counsel for the mother, Oonagh McCrann SC, told the High Court that the parents proceeded happily and joyfully with the pregnancy after the normal result came back on the test. Subsequently, they experienced much shock and grief when the baby was delivered and found to have the rare genetic condition with very significant and profound disability.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross placed a barring order in relation to reporting of details that may identify the mother and child. The mother had taken the wrongful birth compensation action against the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Dublin. Complete liability in the case was officially accepted by latter on June 13 last.

It said that “in the particular circumstances of this case and in light of the outcome of the recent referendum repealing the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution”, liability was accepted and the public policy defence was withdrawn.

Mr Justice Cross, noting liability had been accepted, said he would have thought the result of the referendum had nothing to do with this.

 

Failures and Delays in Diagnoses Top Emergency Room Negligence Claims

Posted on: June 5th, 2017

Failures and delays in diagnosing illnesses and injuries accounted for more than half of the emergency room negligence claims made between 2010 and 2014.

Last week the State Claims Agency released its review of “National Clinical Incidents, Claims and Costs” covering the period between 2010 and 2014. In the publication, the nature of clinical incidents is categorised into medical, surgical, maternity, disability or elderly care. Within each category, the reasons for the most common clinical negligence claims are listed.

Within the medical negligence category, a sub-category has been created to account for clinical incidents in hospital emergency rooms and the claims that result when an adverse outcome has occurred. At the top of the list is the failure to diagnose an illness or injury and, once the number of delayed diagnoses is taken into account, the two combined account for more than 60% of emergency room negligence claims.

Overall there were more than four times as many claims for a failure or delay in diagnosing an injury or illness as there were in the second most common reason for emergency room negligence claims – the failure to treat or a delay in treatment. Other motives provided for emergency room negligence claims included foreign objects left inside a patient, soft tissue damage during the administration of treatment and avoidable reactions to known allergens.

The reasons given for their being such a high proportion of emergency room negligence claims related to diagnostic failures were the failure to perform a radiograph (or interpret the results correctly) in the case of a fracture, and incomplete medical examinations in other illness and injury scenarios. Other areas of concern included incomplete patient note taking and a lack of communication.

The aim of the review – according to the review´s lead author Dr Dubhfeasa Slattery – is to improve patient safety by analysing the most common areas of failure and implementing measures to improve patient care. It is hoped that this process – described by Dr Slattery as a “learning health system” – has a positive effect in relation to the treatment received in hospital emergency rooms and leads to a reduction in emergency room negligence claims.

Birth Defect Claims against Sanofi made in France

Posted on: April 21st, 2017

Parents whose children were exposed to valproic acid in the womb have started making birth defect claims against Sanofi – the French manufacturer of Epilim.

Epilim is the trade name in Ireland for an anti-epilepsy drug (Depakine) introduced into France in the 1960s. Epilim contains sodium valproate and has also been prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, migraine and other chronic pain conditions because of an agent in valproate called GABA that stabilises electrical activity in the brain.

When taken by woman during pregnancy, the sodium valproate is broken down into valproic acid which – when it enters the bloodstream – can have an adverse effect on the health of the unborn child. Children born with “foetal valproate syndrome” have been known to suffer from a range of congenital and development issues including autism and spina bifida.

The risks of foetal valproate syndrome due to taking Epilim during pregnancy were first identified in the 1980s, but the evidence was considered not sufficiently conclusive and was allegedly covered up to prevent “fruitless anxiety”. Sanofi, the manufacturer of Epilim, later informed the medical profession of the risks in 2006 but in a manner that left many medical professionals in the dark.

Only recently has France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) looked deeper into the birth defect claims against Sanofi, and the agency has just published a report revealing that up to 4,100 children were born between 2007 and 2014 with “severe malformations” due to their mothers having taken the French version of Epilim. Hundreds more died in the womb.

The report has prompted the children´s parents to form a class action making birth defect claims against Sanofi on the grounds that the drug manufacturer failed to adequately advise the medical professional of the risks associated with Epilim or print warnings on the outside of the packets. The French government has also got involved and is discussing a compensation package.

In Ireland, Epilim is still sold without a warning on the front of the packet, and it is not known how many children have been diagnosed with foetal valproate syndrome due to being exposed to valproic acid in the womb. If a family member has been affected by this issue, and you would like to know more about birth defect claims against Sanofi, please do not hesitate to speak with a solicitor.

Boy´s Claim for an Erb´s Palsy Birth Injury Resolved

Posted on: February 20th, 2017

A boy´s claim for an Erb´s palsy birth injury against the HSE has been resolved at the High Court with the approval of a €530,000 compensation settlement.

The six-year-old boy was born via a natural delivery on 22nd March 2010 at Kerry General Hospital despite his mother having requested a birth by Caesarean section because of his size in the womb. During the delivery process, the boy´s shoulder got trapped in the birth canal and he had to be extracted with the assistance of a vacuum cup.

Due to the force applied to free his shoulder, the boy suffered a brachial plexus injury and has since been diagnosed with Erb´s palsy. Due to his birth injury, the boy has a weak right arm that will permanently affect him for the rest of his life. After seeking legal advice, the boy´s father made a claim for an Erb´s palsy birth injury against the HSE on his son´s behalf.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) initially denied liability for the boy´s birth injury but after a period of negotiation agreed to a €530,000 settlement of the claim for an Erb´s palsy birth injury without an admission of liability. As the claim had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the child´s best interests.

Consequently at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that the boy had been identified as a big baby two months before his birth and that his mother had requested a Caesarean section delivery on two consultations and again when she was admitted to Kerry General Hospital in labour.

Judge Cross also heard that the boy attends mainstream school, has learned to write with his left hand and is very good at maths. An expert witness testified that the boy is unable to tie shoes or close buttons and will struggle at sports, after which the judge approved the settlement of the boy´s claim for an Erb´s palsy birth injury against the HSE and wished the family well for the future.

Compensation for Personal Injuries in Ireland about to be Amended

Posted on: September 29th, 2016

The amount of compensation for personal injuries in Ireland plaintiffs will be entitled to is about to be amended with the release of a revised Book of Quantum.

The Book of Quantum is a guide used by the Injuries Board, solicitors, judges and insurance companies in order to assess how much compensation a plaintiff in Ireland is entitled to for a physical injury. The “Book” includes a comprehensive range of physical injuries and assigns them a financial value according to the extent of the injury and its permanence.

The current Book of Quantum was published in 2004 at the time the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (later the Injuries Board) was launched. In recent years the guidelines have been considered out of date and largely ignored in the consideration of court-issued awards of compensation for personal injuries in Ireland. The Book of Quantum has also been criticised for its lack of granularity.

Now, after research into 52,000 personal injury claims settled between 2013 and 2014 – and months of talks between the Injuries Board, the Courts Service and senior judges – an amended Book of Quantum is due to be published in the next few weeks. Those who have seen the work in progress say that the “new” Book of Quantum is a vast improvement on the “current” publication.

In addition to bringing the financial values assigned to physical injuries up to date, the injuries themselves will be classified in more detail. This is so that judges can more accurately compare details on a medical report against the Book of Quantum and award consistent amounts of compensation. The same should apply to insurance companies´ offers of settlement.

Although the revisions to the Book of Quantum are welcomed, it should be remembered that compensation for personal injuries in Ireland consists of just more than a consideration for a physical injury. Any quantifiable psychological injury, loss of amenity or financial loss due to an injury should also be factored into a compensation settlement.

Consequently, in order to ensure you receive a fair and appropriate settlement of compensation for being injured in an accident for which you were not at fault, you should always consult a personal injuries solicitor.

UN: Change Eighth Amendment to Accommodate Fatal Foetal Anomaly Abortions

Posted on: June 10th, 2016

The UN has told the Government to relax its prohibition on fatal foetal anomaly abortions – reforming the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution if necessary.

In November 2011, 21-weeks pregnant Amanda Mellet was given the devastating news that her unborn child had a fatal foetal anomaly and would die in the womb or shortly after birth. As the law in Ireland prohibits fatal foetal anomaly abortions, Amanda had the options of continuing with a non-viable pregnancy or travelling to the UK to have an abortion.

Despite there being little legally-available information about fatal foetal anomaly abortions in the UK, Amanda chose the latter option. Unfortunately her experience was exceptionally disturbing. Amanda had to travel to the UK alone, leave the UK hospital twelve hours after the procedure due to a lack of funds, and had the ashes of her unborn child delivered to her by courier three weeks later.

Unable to seek bereavement counselling or post-operative medical care, Amanda made a complaint to the United Nations via the Centre for Reproductive Rights – a non-profit organization that promotes the rights of women to abortions. The Centre claimed that Amanda´s physical and emotional well-being had been jeopardised by Ireland´s ban on fatal foetal anomaly abortions.

After considering Amanda´s claim, the UN´s Geneva-based Human Rights Committee found that Ireland´s ban on fatal foetal anomaly abortions is discriminatory, cruel, inhuman and degrading. The Committee said that Amanda had been subjected to unnecessary financial and emotional suffering and called for the ban to be relaxed – with the Eighth Amendment recognising the right to life of an unborn child reformed if necessary.

In its findings the Human Rights Committee said: “The State party should amend its law on voluntary termination of pregnancy, including if necessary its Constitution, to ensure compliance with the Covenant, including 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.”

In addition to telling the Government to change the Eighth Amendment in order to accommodate fatal foetal anomaly abortions, the UN has ordered the state to pay Amanda compensation for failing to take her medical needs and socio-economic circumstances into account. The Committee found that many of the negative experiences Amanda went through could have been avoided if she had not been prohibited from terminating the pregnancy “in the familiar environment of her own country and under the care of health professionals whom she knew and trusted.”

Speaking after the Human Rights Committee´s decision 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.”

High Court Compensation Awards Rise by 34% in 2014

Posted on: September 23rd, 2015

The motor insurance industry has blamed over-generous judges for a 34 percent rise in High Court compensation awards over the past year.

The increase in High Court compensation awards was highlighted by by Davy Stockbrokers analyst Emer Lang, who used information gathered from the Courts Service annual report to show that a total of €155 million was awarded over 509 personal injuries claims in 2014.

Ms Lang compared the average claim value of €304,000 in 2014 to that of the previous year (€227,000) to arrive at her figure of 34%. During the same period, the average value of assessments conducted by the Injuries Board has remained steady at €22,600.

Experts from the motor insurance industry were shocked when they were told of the increase. AA Ireland’s Conor Faughnan said there was a need for training for judges to help them understand that High Court compensation awards are paid for by the country´s two million drivers.

Some of the blame for the increase in High Court compensation awards has been attributed to changes made under the Courts and Civil Law Act 2013, in which cases expected to settle for in excess of €60,000 are heard in the High Court.

Prior to the increase to €60,000, the lower limit for High Court compensation awards was €38,092, and 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 more money at the High Court.

“The Department of Justice was forewarned well in advance,” Ms Dowling told the Independent. “This is what happens when you increase the limits of the lower courts – it sends out the message that €38,000 is small money.”

Ms Dowling does not share the same opinion as Mr Justice Bernard Barton, who in July this year criticised the government for not updating the injury compensation values published in the Book of Quantum – the publication on which the Injuries Board bases its assessments – since 2004.

In McGarry v McGarry Judge Barton 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 [High Court compensation awards]”.

Interim Settlement of Claim against Consultant Obstetrician Approved in Court

Posted on: October 27th, 2014

A High Court judge has approved a €2.75 million interim settlement of a twelve-year-old boy´s claim against a consultant obstetrician.

James McCarthy from Clonmel in County Tipperary was born by emergency Caesarean Section on 20 November 2001, when a scan revealed that his twin brother had died in the womb. James was delivered at thirty-three weeks with severe disabilities which were not identified as cerebral palsy until a year after his birth.

Through his parents – James Cooney and Linda McCarthy – James made an injury compensation claim against the consultant obstetrician who had been responsible for his mother´s care during the later stages of her pregnancy – Dr Raymond Howard of St Joseph´s Hospital in Clonmel.

In their action against Dr Howard, it was claimed that Linda had been referred to St Joseph´s Hospital for ante natal care and – on 13 November 2001 – she had been seen by Dr Howard´s registrar. A scan was conducted and the registrar wanted to admit Linda as he had concerns over the health of her twin sons.

Dr Howard disagreed and Linda was asked to come back one week later. When she did so, a further scan showed that one of the twins had died, and James was delivered by Caesarean Section immediately. Due to the trauma that he suffered in the womb, James is unable to walk, talk or sit up unaided.

Although being under his care, the first time that Linda set eyes on Dr Howard was one day after James was born. It was alleged that neither Linda´s nor James´ conditions had been investigated, monitored, diagnosed or treated during the later stages of the pregnancy, and that James´ injuries could have been avoided with greater care.

Dr Howard admitted liability for James´ injuries and, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that an interim settlement of compensation had been agreed in respect of the claim against the consultant obstetrician amounting to €2.75 million.

The judge approved the settlement and adjourned the claim against the consultant obstetrician for a further three years to allow for a report to be compiled for James´ future needs and for the possible introduction of a structured settlement system.

Cerebral Palsy Compensation Settlement Approved Despite Lack of Proof

Posted on: September 26th, 2014

The settlement of a teenager´s cerebral palsy compensation claim has been approved at the High Court despite there being a lack of proof over causation.

Sixteen-year-old Emma O´Donnell was born at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin, in June 1998. Some time after her birth by suction, Emma started to display the symptoms of cerebral palsy, turned blue and started to have seizures. She now requires full-time care due an intellectual disability and behavioural problems.

Since 2007, Emma has been cared for by her father – James Forde from Aklow in County Wicklow – after her mother was diagnosed with a bi-polar condition and institutionalised. James gave up his job to look after his daughter and made a claim for cerebral palsy compensation on her daughter´s behalf.

James and the solicitor representing Emma encountered problems in establishing causation – as the links between the care Emma had received before and after her birth could not be directly attributed to her cerebral palsy condition. The National Maternity Hospital put a value of €6 million on the claim by the HSE – but only if there was full proof of causation.

Eventually a compromise was negotiated in which the National Maternity Hospital would settle the cerebral palsy compensation claim for €3 million without admission of liability – subject to the approval of a judge. Consequently, the tale of Emma´s tragic birth injury and her life since was told to Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns at the High Court in Dublin.

The judge was told that the cerebral palsy compensation claim had been brought so late in Emma´s life due to the difficulty of establishing causation, and Judge Kearns agreed that – if the case went to a full trial – it may not be successful. The judge was also given a letter of consent from the hospital, agreeing to settle Emma´s cerebral palsy compensation claim for €3 million.

Having reviewed the case, Judge Kearns approved the settlement of the cerebral palsy compensation claim for €3 million – describing the care that James had provided for Emma since 2007 as “heroic”.

Judge Allows Claim for Medication Side Effects to Go Ahead after Denying an Application to Dismiss

Posted on: August 14th, 2014

A High Court judge has allowed a claim for medication side effects to go ahead after the company who manufactured the medication applied to have the case thrown out.

Lorna Savage was granted the go-ahead to proceed with her compensation claim for medication side effects after a hearing at the High Court in which the manufacturer of the medication – Pfizer – had applied to have the case to be thrown due to the length of time that had passed since the claim was first filed.

Hearing the application for dismissal at the High Court, Mr Justice George Birmingham was told how Lorna (now 43 years of age) from Cobh in County Cork had been prescribed the steroid Deltacortril in 1997 to treat the skin disorder vasculitis – a condition which damaged blood vessels cluster together and cause an irritable rash on the surface of the skin.

Within a few years of taking Deltacortril, Lorna´s condition had deteriorated due to her developing Avascular Necrosis – a rare but established side effect to Deltacortril, which prevents blood reaching the bones of the knee and hip joints and causes the bone tissue to die – ultimately resulting in the knee and hip bones collapsing entirely.

After four years of being prescribed Deltacortril, Lorna had both knees and one hip replaced, but the Avascular Necrosis side effect had spread to such an extent that she is now reliant on a wheelchair for her mobility and has to manage the constant pain of the disease with morphine.

Judge Birmingham heard that, after seeking legal advice, Lorna made a compensation claim for medication side effects against the two doctors who had prescribed the Deltacortril for her – GP Dr. Michael Madigan and her consultant doctor at the Cork University Hospital – Dr. M Molloy.

In her claim against the estate of Dr Madigan (who died in 1999), Lorna alleged that he had failed to fully investigate her skin condition and had negligently prescribed Deltacortril when he was (or should have been) aware of the potential side effects.  In the case against Dr Molloy, Lorna alleged the consultant had acted negligently by failing to recognise the symptoms of Avascular Necrosis.

Lorna also made a claim for medication side effects compensation against the pharmaceutical company Pfizer; alleging that the company had failed to provide a warning in the literature accompanying the Deltacortril tablets that their continued use could cause Avascular Necrosis, and by neglecting to advise against drinking alcohol while taking the tablets.

The estate of Lorna´s GP, the HSE (of behalf of Dr Molloy and the Cork University Hospital) and Pfizer individually denied negligence in response to Lorna´s claim for medication side effects compensation, and Pfizer applied to have Lorna´s claim dismissed on the grounds of “an inordinate and inexcusable delay” in bringing the case to court.

However, after hearing that the delay in bringing the case to court was due to Lorna being unable to instruct her solicitors as she had recently undergone seven major operations, Mr Justice George Birmingham ruled that the delay was “excusable” and denied Pfizer´s application to dismiss – saying that Lorna´s claim for medication side effects compensation would be listed for a full court hearing later in the year.

Second Interim Payment of Medical Negligence Compensation for Cerebral Palsy Approved in Court

Posted on: June 23rd, 2014

A second interim payment of medical negligence compensation for cerebral palsy has been approved in the High Court in favour of an eight-year-old boy.

Luke Miggin was born on 26th February 2006 at the Mullingar General Hospital having been starved of oxygen in the womb due to the negligence of his mother´s consultant obstetrician – Michael Gannon.

Gannon had failed to act on CTG traces taken throughout the day, which indicated a deceleration of the foetal heart rate, and Luke´s delivery was not brought forward to account for his condition as would reasonably be expected.

When Luke was born he had to be resuscitated and was transferred to a special care baby unit. Luke now suffers from cerebral palsy, is unable to walk and needs around-the-clock care.

Through his mother – Emily Miggin of Athboy, County Meath – Luke claimed medical negligence compensation for cerebral palsy and, in 2010, Dr Gannon and the Health Service Executive admitted their liability for his birth injuries.

An interim settlement of compensation amounting to €1.35 million was approved by Mr Justice John Quirke in January 2011, and Luke´s case adjourned for three years to allow time for a structured settlement system of compensation to be introduced.

However, with no such system yet in place, Emily Miggin returned to the High Court to have a second interim payment of medical negligence compensation for cerebral palsy approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

Judge Irvine apologised that Emily had to keep returning to court for approval of her son´s compensation and criticised former Ministers of Justice for failing to deliver on their promises of a structured settlement system.

The judge – clearly frustrated at the situation – commented that ongoing litigation prevents the Miggin family from getting on with their lives and, after approving the €580,000 interim settlement of medical negligence for cerebral palsy, adjourned Luke´s case for a further three years.

Court Approves Settlement of Compensation for the Misdiagnosis of Meningitis

Posted on: June 2nd, 2014

The High Court has approved a settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis in favour of a teenager from County Wicklow.

On 29 January 1998, Simone Kavanagh from Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow had telephoned the surgery of Dr Frank Malone and Dr Paul Crean in Greystones in County Wicklow to explain to Dr Malone that her thirteen-month-old daughter – Laura – was running a high temperature and was showing signs of fatigue.

Dr Malone advised her to look out for signs of a rash and to telephone the surgery again if Laura´s condition deteriorated. Several hours later, Laura´s condition had deteriorated, and Simone Kavanagh telephoned the surgery again – this time speaking with Dr Crean – who said he would come round to the Kavanagh home when he had finished his surgery.

Later that evening, Dr Crean arrived at the Kavanagh´s home and diagnosed Laura as having a bowel infection. He left two suppositories, and told Simone to telephone again in the morning if Laura´s condition had not improved.

The following day, Simone telephoned the surgery requesting another home visit, but later cancelled the request as Laura seemed to be recovering. However, on the third morning Laura was once again very ill, and her mother was able to get an on-call doctor to visit straight away. The on-call doctor admitted Laura to hospital immediately, where she was diagnosed with severe meningitis.

As a result of her illness, Laura became permanently deaf, and through her mother she claimed compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis against the against Drs Malone and Crean, alleging that there had been a failure to attend Laura in good time, a failure to ensure proper care or any continuity of care and Dr Crean had failed to diagnose meningitis when had visited.

Doctors Malone and Crean denied the allegations made in Laura´s compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of meningitis, but agreed to a settlement of compensation amounting to €5 million without an admission of liability.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court in Dublin was told by Laura´s legal representatives that if she had been admitted to hospital at the time of Dr Crean´s alleged misdiagnosis it was probable that Laura would not have lost her hearing.

The judge also heard that Laura has learned to communicate through sign language and lip reading – but has a moderate intellectual disability. Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of meningitis – saying that it would never give Laura the life she was meant to have.

Compensation for the Misdiagnosis of a Knee Fracture Approved at the High Court

Posted on: May 2nd, 2014

A woman, who was unable to compete in the Special Olympics due to a medical error, has had the settlement of her compensation for the misdiagnosis of a knee fracture approved at a High Court hearing.

The Special Olympics World Games is the world’s largest sporting event for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and, in May 2009, Amy Rose McGowan from Trim in County Meath was in training for the Games that were scheduled to take place in the summer of 2011 in Athens.

Unfortunately, while running in a training race, Amy Rose fell and injured her knee and was taken to Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan; where she was diagnosed with a soft tissue injury after having an x-ray, and had her knee strapped for support.

A few months later Amy Rose attended her GP complaining of a pain in her knee. It was discovered that she had sustained a depressed fracture of the knee in the training accident which had been overlooked by doctors at the hospital.

Unfortunately for Amy Rose the correct diagnosis was made too late for corrective surgery and – Mr Justice Michael Peart at the High Court in Dublin heard – it is likely that Amy Rose will require knee replacement operations in the future.

Because of her intellectual disability, Amy Rose (31) claimed compensation for the misdiagnosis of a knee fracture through her mother – Charlotte McGowan – against the Health Service Executive (HSE), alleging that the care, diagnosis and treatment provided by Our Lady’s Hospital had been negligent.

The HSE acknowledged that the x-ray of Amy Rose´s depressed fracture had been overlooked at the hospital and liability was admitted for her knee injury. A €142,000 settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of a knee fracture was agreed; but, as Amy Rose suffered an intellectual disability, the settlement had to be first approved by a judge.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Michael Peart heard how before her accident Amy Rose had been a successful swimmer and athlete.  Approving the settlement the judge said he was “very impressed and full of admiration” for Amy Rose and he wished her a happy life with her family before adjourning the hearing.

Family Receive Undisclosed Compensation for Fatal Lack of Care in Hospital

Posted on: February 13th, 2014

A family has received an undisclosed settlement of compensation for a fatal lack of care in hospital that resulted in the death of a 65-year-old wife and mother.

In January 2010, Eileen Brady was referred to the Cavan General Hospital by her GP following his diagnosis that a poor fluid intake was causing Eileen to suffer mouth ulcers. Eileen was admitted to the hospital on 5th January, but the rehydration treatment she was administered was ineffective due her veins collapsing, and she died the following day due to multiple organ failure.

An investigation into Eileen´s death revealed that the weakest in her veins was attributable to the chemotherapy treatment she was undergoing in a Dublin hospital to treat her stomach cancer, and that her death could have been avoided had her medical charts been examined more closely and her situation monitored more carefully.

Eileen´s son – Martin Brady from Crosskeys in County Cavan – sued the Cavan General Hospital and Health Service Executive (HSE) on behalf of the family, claiming compensation for a fatal lack of care in hospital which could have been prevented if the hospital in Cavan had liaised with the hospital in Dublin at which Eileen was receiving her treatment for cancer.

The HSE admitted liability for Eileen´s death, and an undisclosed settlement of compensation for a fatal lack of care in hospital was agreed out of court. However, the settlement came with the proviso that a representative of the HSE read out an apology in court, and therefore Ms Justice Mary Irvine and Eileen´s family assembled in the High Court to hear the public apology.

At the High Court, a statement was read in which the Cavan general Hospital and the HSE apologised for the fatal lack of care which resulted in Eileen´s death, and for the emotional trauma that had needlessly been suffered by her family and friends.

Replying on behalf of the family, Aidan Brady said he hoped that both the defendants had learned from “the grave mistakes” made in the care of his mother “and that no other family would have to go through the trauma and distress that we have suffered”.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine extended her personal sympathy to Eileen´s family and closed the hearing.

Family Settles Compensation Claim for Injuries due to a Mismanaged Birth

Posted on: November 27th, 2013

A family from County Laois have settled their compensation claim for injuries due the mismanaged birth of their daughter – Roisin – who suffers from cerebral palsy due to medical negligence.

On 10th November 2001, Mary Conroy attended the Midland Regional Hospital in Portloaise believing that her membranes had ruptured. She was reassured that they had not and sent home. Three days later, Mary attended the clinic of Dr John Corristine – her private consultant obstetrician attached to the Midland Regional Hospital – for an ultrasound.

Mary insisted that she be admitted to hospital following the ultrasound, and underwent a CTG scan which failed to show evidence of contractions. Dr Corristine ordered the administration of medicine to help induce labour, but the consultant was not seen again – either throughout Mary´s labour or during the birth of her daughter.

Roisin Conroy was born on 14th November 2001, but in a poor condition and suffered seizures shortly after her birth. She was transferred to a hospital in Dublin, but her condition failed to improve and Roisin was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy. As a result of her birth injuries, Roisin (now 12) is permanently disabled and can only communicate through her eyes.

Mary and Kevin Conroy both gave up their jobs to care for their daughter; believing for many years that they had been “just unlucky”, as no explanation for Roisin´s injuries had been provided either by the hospital or by Dr Corristine. However, after seeking legal advice and initiating an investigation into the circumstances prior to Roisin´s delivery, the couple discovered that they were entitled to make a compensation claim for injuries due to a mismanaged birth.

Their compensation claim for injuries due to a mismanaged birth was filed in 2011, but the Health Service Executive (HSE) only admitted liability five weeks before a hearing was scheduled to take place. The Conroy´s legal advisors then negotiated a preliminary settlement of compensation which would cover the cost of Roisin´s care and provide medical and educational support for the next two years – in lieu of a structured compensation system being introduced.

At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the interim settlement of €2.6 million after an apology had been read out to the family by Dr Corristine and a representative of the HSE. However, in a statement made outside the court after the compensation claim for injuries due to a mismanaged birth had been heard, Kevin Conroy said that if the HSE had admitted liability earlier, Roisin would have received a better level of care which would have improved her condition sooner.

Interim Settlement of Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy Compensation Approved in Court

Posted on: November 20th, 2013

A second interim settlement of quadriplegic cerebral palsy compensation has been approved by a High Court judge for a young girl who suffered devastating birth injuries due to the negligence of a paediatric consultant.

Isabelle Sheehan (8) from Mallow in County Cork was born by emergency Caesarean Section at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in November 2004, after a blood test on her mother – Catherine – had revealed a dangerous increase in the presence of certain blood group antibodies.

Despite being informed of the higher antibody count, Catherine Sheehan´s paediatric consultant – Dr David Corr – had omitted to refer Catherine to an expert in foetal medicine; who could have identified potential issues with the pregnancy due to a conflict between the antibodies in Catherine´s blood and those of her husband – Colm Sheehan.

Isabelle was born in a poor condition, and was diagnosed with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Through her mother, Isabelle made a quadriplegic cerebral palsy compensation claim against Dr Corr, who admitted that he had made a mistake by failing to refer Catherine to a specialist when the first interim settlement hearing was heard at the High Court in October 2011.

On that occasion, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill approved an initial settlement of quadriplegic cerebral palsy compensation of €1.9 million, and adjourned Isabelle´s case for two years to allow for the introduction of a structured compensation system.

As a structured compensation system is yet to be introduced, Isabelle´s case was heard again in front of Mr Justice Kevin Cross; who was told that a further interim settlement of quadriplegic cerebral palsy compensation of €635,000 had been agreed to provide Isabelle with the care that she needs for a further two years.

After being told that Isabelle is “bright and intelligent”, and that she was keeping up with children in her mainstream national school class, Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the second settlement of quadriplegic cerebral palsy compensation, wished Isabelle a very good future and adjourned the case for a further two years.

Compensation for Flu Jab Side Effects Approved in UK

Posted on: September 23rd, 2013

Four families in the UK have been informed that they can apply for compensation for flu jab side effects caused by the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine.

The four families each have children who developed narcolepsy as a direct result of being given the Pandemrix vaccine during the 2009-2010 pandemic, which has now been accepted as increasing the risk of narcolepsy tenfold.

Compensation for the flu jab side effects is expected to be up to £120,000 for each child, provided that it can be shown that the children have suffered severe disability. If individual claims fail, the parents will still be entitled to take court action on behalf of their children.

The Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the UK and a 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”.

No Compensation for Flu Jab Side Effects in Ireland

The news of compensation for flu jab side effects in the UK comes a week after the Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder (Sound) support group objected to remarks made by Health Minister James Reilly in a radio interview. The minister said that to his knowledge, all the financial and personal assistance that had been requested by families whose children had contracted narcolepsy in Ireland had been provided.

However, Sound committee member Eilish Plunkett – whose son Sean is one of the children affected – said the minister’s statement is not supported by the facts. Ms Plunkett claimed that, although some services were in place, the assistance that was being provided was only temporary.

She said that the provision of financial and personal services could be taken away at any time and that her son had a life-long illness which needed permanent support.  Furthermore, she added, a package of support measures recommended in an official 2012 report was still waiting to go before the government for approval.

The History of Pandemrix in Ireland

More than 800,000 doses of Pandemrix were administered in Ireland after the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009. The Health Service Executive said it had identified thirty cases of the sleeping disorder narcolepsy among children who received the vaccine, but Sound claim to represent fifty-four families in which children are suffering from the side effects of the flu jab.

In April 2012, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan published his “Investigation of an Increase in the Incidence of Narcolepsy in Children and Adolescents in 2009 and 2010” on behalf of the Minister for Health, after which James Reilly gave a commitment to SOUND that a package of support measures would be brought to government for approval prior to the summer recess in 2012.

DePuy Litigation Delayed a Further Two Weeks

Posted on: September 16th, 2013

The start of the faulty hip replacement DePuy litigation which was due to commence on September 9th has been delayed a further two weeks to allow additional time for the two parties to prepare.

The latest rescheduling of the first ‘bellwether’ trial was due to a late substitution of case; with the original plaintiff Faye Dorney-Madgitz being replaced by Ann McCracken for reasons which have not been made public.

Although Ann McCracken´s case was originally listed to be heard in August, U.S. District Judge David A. Katz found it appropriate to delay the start of the DePuy litigation in order give both parties more time for discovery and for the consideration of other legal matters.

The judge has already agreed with DePuy´s lawyers that the worldwide recall of the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System and the ASR Articular Surface Hip Replacement System should not be referred to in court, as Ann McCracken´s injury would have occurred irrespective of whether her DePuy hip replacement had been recalled or not.

Ann originally received a DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip replacement system in August 2009 which had to be removed in January 2011 after metallosis from the faulty medical device caused damage to the soft tissue around her hip and resulted in a painful hip dislocation.

The primary purpose of Ann´s trial – and the other ‘Bellwether’ DePuy litigation still to be scheduled – is to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the plaintiff´s cases and how the juries in each ‘Bellwether’ trial respond to them.

If verdicts are delivered in favour of the plaintiffs – and benchmarks are established for the value of DePuy hip replacement compensation settlements – DePuy would be expected to make offers of settlement for the remaining 7,800 DePuy injury compensation claims which are attached to the existing DePuy litigation.

Should it not be possible to calculate future settlements because of irregular awards of compensation in the `Bellwether` DePuy litigation, the outstanding claims (all 7,800 of them) would be returned to the U.S. District Courts in which they were filed to be heard individually.

This would have serious consequences for claims for DePuy personal injury compensation in Ireland, which would then each have to go through a court hearing before they could be resolved.

Judge Reduces Award of Legal Costs to Plaintiff due to Unsubstantiated Claims

Posted on: September 6th, 2013

A High Court judge has reduced an award of legal costs, payable to a woman who was awarded compensation for medical negligence in June, due to other unsubstantiated claims.

The case of Madeline Wright v. the Health Service Executive and the Mater Misericordiae Hospital was heard in the High Court over a three week period in May and, at the conclusion of the hearing, Madeline Wright was awarded compensation against the HSE on the grounds that a delay in treating her spinal injury had constituted negligence.

However, whereas a successful plaintiff usually receives an award of legal costs to cover any expenses associated with bringing a claim to court, in this case Mrs Justice Mary Irvine determined that three specific incidents were included in Madeline´s claim for medical negligence compensation which were unsubstantiated and had unnecessarily taken up time in the court hearing.

In a departure from the legal principal of “costs follow the event” the judge penalised Madeline by awarding her just 65% of the legal costs she would otherwise have been entitled to on the grounds that (in the judge´s opinion) only 20% of the evidence presented in court related to the act of negligence for which Madeline was ultimately compensated

Ms Justice Mary Irvine said “I am satisfied that regardless of the fact that the plaintiff only succeeded on the last of what I consider to have been four separate legs of her claim that she must nonetheless be deemed to be the overall winner of proceedings in which the defendants denied any liability and in the course of which she duly established a right to compensation she would not otherwise have been able to recover”.

The judge then added “Just because a plaintiff has one good point they should not, to my mind, be permitted to litigate a myriad of others and have the court make an order requiring the successful defendant on such issues to pay for that luxury. There must be some sanction in terms of costs should this occur”.

However, the judge also considered that it would be harsh to limit Madeline´s award of legal costs to 20%, as the practice of reducing the recovery of legal costs in a High Court case not customary. Therefore, she reduced Madeline´s award of legal costs to 65% to act as a warning to future plaintiff´s attaching unsubstantiated claims to a genuine case.

Report Finds Missed Diagnosis Claims are Responsible for Most GP Medical Negligence Cases

Posted on: August 22nd, 2013

A report commissioned by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has found that the most common reason for GP medical negligence cases is missed diagnosis claims.

The review of malpractice claims in primary care in Ireland was carried out at the Health Research Board Centre for Primary Care Research based at the RCSI in Dublin to establish which areas of primary care in Ireland should be highlighted when developing future educational strategies and risk management systems for healthcare practitioners.

The key findings of the review were:-

  • Compensation claims for a failure to diagnose or for a delay in diagnosing were the commonest reason for cases being brought against GPs for medical negligence in Ireland
  • The diagnoses most frequently cited in missed diagnosis claims for compensation were cancer and heart attacks for adults and meningitis for children
  • The annual prevalence of malpractice claims against GPs for missed diagnosis or delayed diagnosis appears to be on the increase

Further Findings of the RCSI Review

The review of GP medical negligence cases established that the second most common reason for medical negligence claims against a GP in Ireland was medication errors – although this area grouped together prescription errors made by family doctors and administration errors made in hospitals.

Other areas where lead researcher Dr Emma Wallace found there was area for improvement was in the accident and emergency department, where the number of delayed diagnoses concerning appendicitis, ectopic pregnancies and fractures were consistent with previous reviews.

Dr Wallace – who is herself a GP – also commented that although a missed or delayed diagnosis of meningitis accounted for only 1% of all GP medical negligence cases, it accounted for 30% of the cost of settling missed diagnosis claims for children.

Benefits for both Doctors and Patients

Dr Wallace hopes that the consequences of the report will be to improve the primary care received by patients and early detection of breast cancer, colon cancer, melanoma cancer and cancers of the lung and female genital tract.

The report acknowledges that doctors facing GP medical negligence cases have also been shown to experience high levels of psychological distress and consequently have practiced more defensively and referred patients onto specialists – releasing the doctor from the fear of litigation, but the delaying the diagnosis of a serious condition.



This is an Information site only – if you feel you have a potential claim, you should discuss your situation with a solicitor registered with the Law Society of Ireland.