Archive for July 2014

Judge Awards Compensation for a Wrongful Death due to Delayed Surgery

A judge at the High Court in Dublin has awarded a widower €165,000 compensation for a wrongful death due to delayed surgery.

On 30th December 2005, Helen Marlow was admitted to St Luke´s General Hospital in Kilkenny, suffering from cramps and abdominal pains. An inflammation of the bowel was diagnosed and the decision was made to treat Helen with antibiotics.

After a few days, when Helen´s condition failed to improve, she underwent an ultra-sound scan that revealed her condition was serious and surgery was required. However, the first attempt to schedule surgery was cancelled because there was no intensive care facility available, and Helen did not have the necessary operation until 8th January.

Four days later Helen died. The cause of Helen´s death was recorded as multiple organ failure due to sepsis, and an investigation into her death found that, had Helen undergone the surgery sooner, there was a strong likelihood that she would have survived.

Helen´s widower – Patrick Malone from Carlow – claimed compensation for a wrongful death due to delayed surgery against consultant doctor George Nessim and the Health Service Executive (HSE), on the grounds that the avoidable loss of his wife had caused significant mental distress to himself and Helen´s six adult children.

Despite the Irish Medical Council finding Dr Nessim guilty on four charges of professional misconduct, the HSE initially denied liability for Helen´s death. Court proceedings were issued, and it was only as the scheduled date of the court hearing approached that the HSE acknowledged the hospital´s failure in its duty of care.

The claim for compensation for a wrongful death due to delayed surgery went to the High Court in Dublin for the assessment of damages. The judge hearing the case – Mr Justice Ryan – commended the two parties for settling a “difficult, painful and tragic case”, before awarding Patrick €165,000 compensation for a wrongful death due to delayed surgery.

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Child Awarded Compensation for Hospital Failing to Follow Procedures

A child has been awarded compensation for a hospital failing to follow its own procedures after a hearing at the High Court in London

Ellie Sutton from Witham in Essex was just eight months old when she was taken to Colchester Hospital by her mother – Sarah – with a temperature of 39.9 degrees. Although hospital procedures stated that any young child with a temperature higher than 38 degrees should be monitored hourly, Ellie was discharged from the hospital with her mother being told to return if her daughter´s temperature remained high.

Sarah returned to the hospital later that day, and after Ellie was examined by a doctor in the Emergency Department, she was admitted to hospital with the recommendation that her condition be investigated without delay. However, a review of Ellie´s condition was not conducted until eleven hours later; by which time she had suffered brain damage due to meningitis which resulted in Ellie requiring around the clock care ever since.

After taking advice from a solicitor, Sarah made a claim for compensation against the hospital for failing to follow procedures which would have prevented Ellie from sustaining such a traumatic injury. After an internal investigation, Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust acknowledged that there had been a breach of their procedures, and admitted that had Ellie been treated appropriately when Sarah first brought her to the hospital, she would have made a full recovery.

At the High Court in London, the Sutton family heard an apology read to them by representatives from the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust for the mistakes that were made in Ellie´s care. Judge Anthony Seys-Llewellyn was told that a settlement of compensation for the hospital failing to follow procedures had been agreed with the family which consisted of a £2.4 million lump sum and tax-free index-linked annual payments of £119,000.

The judge approved the settlement, extending his sympathies to the family and saying “In a way this is the most painful day for you, because you have been thinking about what was intended to be”.

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Claim for Child´s Catastrophic Brain Injury Resolved after Court Hearing

A claim for a child´s catastrophic brain injury due to care deficiencies at his birth has been resolved after a High Court judge approved a negotiated compensation settlement.

The unnamed seven-year-old boy was born at Queen´s Medical Centre in Nottingham in November 2006 after suffering complications during his delivery. Due to mismanaged attempts to resuscitate him, the boy suffered severe brain damage which has left him unable to walk or talk. He has acute learning difficulties and requires 24 hour care.

His parents made a claim for a child´s catastrophic brain injury against Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust – the Trust which manages the Queen´s Medical Centre – alleging that their son´s brain damage was attributable to post-natal care deficiencies. The NHS Trust admitted liability for his injuries, and a compensation package was negotiated.

At the High Court in London, Mr Justice Lewis was told of the circumstances which led to the claim for a child´s catastrophic brain injury, and the settlement which was agreed – which comprises of a £3.25 million lump sum and annual index-linked payments starting at £146,500 and rising to £230,000 when the boy reaches the age of 19.

Mr Justice Lewis described the settlement as “just and appropriate” and commended the boy´s parents and relatives for the support they had given him so far. An apology to the family from the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust was read out in court, in which the Trust´s barrister acknowledged that there had been deficiencies in the provision of resuscitation on the day of the boy´s birth, but those problems had been identified and corrected.

The Chief Executive of the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust Peter Homa added, “Whilst no amount of money can compensate for, nor undo the harm and distress the family have experienced as a result of this tragic case, we hope this settlement provides the family with financial security for the future.” Mr Justice Lewis then approved the settlement and closed the claim for a child´s catastrophic brain injury.

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