Man Compensated for Heart Attack Brought on by Medical Negligence

An interim settlement of medical negligence compensation has been approved by a High Court judge for man who suffered a heart attack.

Martin Byrne, aged fifty-two from Swords in Co. Dublin, was admitted to the Mater University Hospital in December 2010 for surgery on his heart meant to treat an unstable angina. The operation was initially deemed successful, though just five days later Martin was bleeding internally, triggered by the removal of pacing wires. Martin then suffered his heart attack.

As a result of the heart attack, Martin’s heart stopped for fifteen minutes. During this time, his brain was starved of oxygen, leading to devastating brain damage. Martin slipped into a coma, and didn’t reawaken for nearly a year. Now, he is reliant on Una, his wife, for round-the-clock care and assistance.

Acting on her husband’s behalf, Una made a claim for medical negligence compensation resulting in a  heart attack. In the claim, it was alleged that the junior staff – because of their relative inexperience –  had incorrectly removed the pacing wires and as such caused Martin’s internal bleeding. However, it was not until December 2014 that the Mater University Hospital accepted that they were liable for Martin’s condition.

The case then proceeded to the High Court of Dublin, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard testimony that Martin – a father-of-four and retired taxi driver – was a very active and involved man before his heart attack, engaging in diverse activities such as camping and scuba diving. In her testimony, Una told the judge that “we thought it was the beginning of the rest of our lives as our children were working or at college”.

An interim settlement of compensation had been negotiated between the parties, amounting to €1.5 million. The purpose of this settlement is to cover Martin’s medical and care expenses for a three-year period as other reports into his claim and condition are being compiled. This also allows time for a new system of periodic payments to be introduced into Ireland.

Mary Day, the CEO of the Mater University Hospital, read an apology to Martin and his family, after which Judge Cross approved the compensation settlement, commenting that Una had “suffered something nobody should have suffered”. Before closing the case, he wished Martin and his family well for the future.

Woman Compensated for Damages due to Forgotten Vaginal Swab

A woman from Dublin has been awarded a six-figure settlement of compensation for injuries that resulted from a forgotten vaginal swab that had been used during her labour.

Claire Lalor, from Swords in Co. Dublin, gave birth on the 24th December 2012 at the National Maternity Hospital. The labour had been long and difficult, and Claire was discharged from the hospital three days after the delivery. However, she returned on two consecutive occasions in two weeks as she was complaining of an unpleasant smell and cramps in her lower abdomen.

However, Claire was never examined internally – despite her concerns – and on her second visit a prescription of antibiotics was given to deal with the supposed infection. Yet a week later her condition had not improved and Claire was finally given an internal examination. The doctor discovered that a vaginal swab – that had been used to stem bleeding during Claire’s labour – had been left inside her.

Though the swab was removed, Claire continued to experience pain. Further visits to the National Maternity Hospital resulted in a diagnosis of post-natal depression, though Claire then decided to visit Beaumont Hospital. There, she was diagnosed with a Clostridium difficile that was the result of the antibiotics prescription.

Upon her recovery, Claire sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for the injuries she suffered. The hospital acknowledged that they were liable for Claire’s injuries as a result of the forgotten swab and the following bacterial infection, though they contested the extent to which Claire suffered psychologically.

The National Maternity Hospital argued that rather than suffering from psychological damage because of the forgotten swab, Claire was actually suffering from post-natal depression. Negotiations were fruitless, and the case proceeded to the High Court of Dublin where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

Though the judge agreed that the psychological damages for which Claire was claiming were more likely to be attributable to post-natal depression, especially considering her difficult labour, he agreed that – had she received adequate post-natal care – her symptoms may not be as severe. Judge Cross proceeded to award Claire €140,000 in compensation.