Court Hears Apology for Wrongful Death due to Dehydration

The Health Service Executive has publicly apologised to a family for the wrongful death due to dehydration of their mother at Cavan General Hospital.

In January 2010, Eileen Brady (65) from Crosskeys in County Cavan visited her family GP suffering from mouth ulcers. Her GP referred Eileen to Cavan General Hospital, where her mouth ulcers were diagnosed as being attributable to poor fluid intake. Eileen was admitted into the hospital to be treated for dehydration.

At the time of her referral and admission into Cavan general Hospital, Eileen was also undergoing chemotherapy for stomach cancer at a Dublin Hospital. Because of the treatment Eileen was receiving for her stomach cancer, her veins collapsed and the dehydration treatment was ineffective. However, whereas alternative procedures could have been used to treat Eileen´s condition, she died the next day from multiple organ failure.

An inquest into Eileen´s death revealed a “catalogue of errors” at the hospital. Medical experts determined that Eileen´s wrongful death due to dehydration could have been avoided if her medical records had been examined properly, if senior doctors had been consulted about Eileen´s health or if anybody had spoken with the hospital in Dublin that was providing Eileen with her chemotherapy treatment.

Martin Brady – Eileen´s son – had made a claim for compensation against Cavan General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE); alleging that the family had suffered mental distress after his mother´s wrongful death due to dehydration. The claim was settled for an undisclosed amount – subject to a public apology being read out at Dublin High Court.

At the hearing, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard a solicitor representing Cavan General Hospital and the HSE read out a statement in which the two parties apologised for the negligent medical care which resulted in Eileen´s wrongful death due to dehydration. The HSE also apologised for the subsequent grief, hurt and stress that had been suffered by her immediate family and friends.

Another of Eileen´s sons – Aidan Brady – responded on behalf of the family. He said he hoped that both Cavan General Hospital and the HSE had learned from “the grave mistakes” made in this case “and that no other family would have to go through the trauma and distress that we have suffered”. Ms Justice Mary Irvine extended her personal sympathy to Eileen´s family before closing the hearing.