Widower Awarded Compensation for Failure to Treat a Postpartum Haemorrhage

A man has been awarded €850,000 compensation for the failure to treat a postpartum haemorrhage that resulted in the death of his wife.

Padraic Flanagan (43) from Castlebar in County Mayo made the medical negligence claim following an inquest into the death of his wife – Evelyn – who died while giving birth to the couple´s second child in October 2007 at the Mayo General Hospital.

An initial post-mortem into Evelyn´s death concluded that it was attributable to an amniotic fluid embolism. However, Padraic criticised the findings of the post-mortem, and claimed that the deterioration in his wife´s condition after the birth of their child was due to a postpartum haemorrhage of Evelyn´s uterus which was not detected or adequately treated.

The subsequent inquest into Evelyn´s death returned a verdict of death by medical adventure. After hearing the coroner´s verdict, Padraic sought legal advice and claimed compensation for the failure to treat a postpartum haemorrhage against the Mayo General Hospital and Evelyn´s consultant obstetrician, Dr Murtada Mohamed.

Both the Mayo General Hospital and Dr Mohamed denied their liability for Evelyn´s death, but her widower persisted with his legal action, and court proceedings were issued against the alleged negligent parties. However, shortly before the claim for compensation for the failure to treat a postpartum haemorrhage was due to be heard in court, the Health Service Executive admitted that Evelyn´s death could have been prevented with greater care.

As no agreement could be negotiated on how much compensation for the failure to treat a postpartum haemorrhage Padraic was entitled to, the case proceeded to the Dublin High Court for assessment of damages. After hearing the circumstances of Evelyn´s death, Mr Justice Michael Peart awarded Padraic €850,000 compensation against the Health Service Executive. The claim against Dr Mohamed was struck out.