Compensation for the Failure to Treat a Perforated Bowel Approved at Court

The family of a man who died in hospital of septic shock has settled its claim for compensation for the failure to treat a perforated bowel.

On the morning of 24th April 2008, Barry Murphy (38) from Carrigaline in County Cork was admitted to the South Infirmary–Victoria University Hospital in Cork after complaining of abdominal pains. At the time Barry was suffering from a mild form of Crohn´s Disease, but the condition was being successfully managed and Barry had a full-time job as a financial controller.

After an examination, Barry was diagnosed with a perforated bowel. However, due to “an unjustifiable delay”, surgery was not performed on until much later in the evening. By the time he underwent surgery, Barry´s condition had deteriorated due to septic shock and he was pronounced dead at 11.15pm that evening.

Barry´s distraught widow – Mary – made a claim for compensation for the failure to treat a perforated bowel against the South Infirmary–Victoria University Hospital and Health Service Executive (HSE). For three years liability for Barry´s wrongful death was denied, with the hospital arguing that Barry had received an acceptable level of care.

Mary was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after suffering a nervous shock following Barry´s death; but she persevered with her claim for compensation for the failure to treat a perforated bowel and, in 2011, the HSE admitted that “the level of care provided fell short of an acceptable standard”.

A €500,000 settlement of compensation for the failure to treat a perforated bowel was negotiated and – at the Dublin High Court – Mr Justice John Quirke approved the settlement. Judge Quirke also expressed his sympathy to Mary and her two daughters, commenting that Barry´s death had been “unthinkable” and was “a tragic loss”, adding that he wished he could do more to help the family.