Widow Receives Compensation for a Fatal Adverse Reaction to Medication

The widow of a man, who died from an acute renal failure after being treated for a toe infection, is to receive €45,000 compensation for a fatal adverse reaction to medication.

Margaret Devereux from Greenrath in County Tipperary claimed compensation for a fatal adverse reaction to medication after her husband – John Devereux – died in Cork University Hospital in March 2008 from acute renal failure.

Just two months previously, John had attended the South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel with an infection in a toe on his right foot. Doctors diagnosed that the infection was due to septic arthritis and prescribed John Sodium Fusidate – a medicine often prescribed for bacterial skin infections.

Not only did the infection in John´s toe get any better, John also started to develop debilitating pains in his arms and legs. He returned to South Tipperary General Hospital on 15th February, and was admitted for five further treatments of Sodium Fusidate.

While John was in the Clonmel hospital, his condition deteriorated further. He was transferred to Cork University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with rhabdmoloysis – a condition in which the muscles break down – and he died on 2nd March.

Margaret discovered that her husband´s death could have been avoided if a potential conflict between John´s existing diabetic medication and the Sodium Fusidate had been identified before it was administered.

After seeking legal advice Margaret claimed compensation for a fatal adverse reaction to medication against the South Tipperary Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE). Both parties denied liability for John´s death but, after a period of negotiation, agreed to a compensation settlement of €45,000 which Margaret accepted.

At the Dublin High Court, the settlement of compensation for a fatal adverse reaction to medication was approved by Mrs Justice Mary Irvine: who commented that it was a good settlement in the circumstances and that there would have been a “huge hill to climb to establish liability” had the claim gone to a full hearing.