Compensation for the Misdiagnosis of Stomach Cancer Approved in Court

The family of a young woman, who died due to a consultant´s negligence, are to receive €62,500 compensation for the misdiagnosis of stomach cancer.

In October 2007, Sharon McEneaney from Carrickmacross in County Monaghan attended Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, complaining of a pain in her abdomen. Her consultant – Dr Etop Samson Akpan – failed to consider the possibility of a tumour, and it was not until June 2008 that a biopsy was conducted which revealed the presence of cancer. By then the cancer had advanced beyond the stage at which it could be treated, and Sharon died ten months later.

An investigation into Sharon´s death conducted by the Health Service Executive (HSE) resulted in thirty-eight separate recommendations being made to prevent the misdiagnosis of stomach cancer happening again at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. A subsequent hearing of the Medical Council of Ireland´s Fitness to Practise Committee found Dr Akpan guilty of a poor professional performance in January 2012.

Sharon´s family claimed compensation for the misdiagnosis of stomach cancer and, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that a settlement amounting to €62,500 had been negotiated – the settlement to be divided between Sharon´s mother – June McEneany – and Sharon´s four siblings after €10,000 has been set aside to cover funeral expenses and other costs related to Sharon´s death.

The High Court also heard Margaret Swords – the General Manager of the Louth & Meath Hospital Group – read an apology to Sharon´s family. In the apology Ms Swords admitted that the hospital had failed Sharon, and that Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital was making progress in implementing the changes recommended by the HSE´s report.

Judge Irvine approved the settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of stomach cancer and commended the McEneaney family for their “courage and tenacity” through the inquest into Sharon´s death. “You have shown marvellous fortitude in the face of such a loss,” the judge commented before closing the hearing.