Hearing Conducted for Cancer Missed Diagnosis

Dublin’s High Court have heard the details of a claim made by a woman who underwent unnecessary surgery after doctors failed to diagnose her with breast cancer.

Eileen Fennessy, a sixty-nine year-old retiree – made the claim for medical negligence compensation after the National Breast Screening Programme, “Breast Check”, failed to see potential symptoms of cancer in a scan taken on in November 2011.

Eileen, who worked as a schoolteacher in Co. Kilkenny, was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly a year after that scan. Her GP had found a large mass on her breast, which lead to a referral to Waterford Regional Hospital. There, an ultrasound and biopsy were carried out, showing that Eileen had a Grade 2 carcinoma.

As soon as the diagnosis was made, Eileen was put on a course of chemotherapy. Regrettably, this did nothing to clear the cancer and in April 2013, Eileen’s right breast was removed. After her recovery, the retired schoolteacher sought legal counsel before proceeding to make a claim for her cancer misdiagnosis against the Health Service Executives (HSE).

In her claim, Eileen alleged that had the Breast Check programme correctly identified her breast cancer in 2011, the subsequent chemotherapy and mastectomy would not have been needed.

The case proceeded to the High Court, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings. Eileen’s barrister told the court that the original mammogram should have indicated to medical staff that Eileen required further examinations. However, the failure of the staff to notice the warning signals meant that Eileen was put in danger as the cancer worsened.

Eileen has since been declared cancer-free, though the judge was told that the underlying diagnosis is “extremely serious and devastating”. The HSE has continued to deny that they were negligent, and the case will continue in the High Court later this week.

Interim Compensation Settlement for Misdiagnosis of Sepsis Approved

The High Court of Dublin have approved a six-figure interim settlement of compensation for a man who is now permanently in a coma after doctors failed to diagnose sepsis.

Robert Bolton, aged seventy-one, had surgery to correct a problem in his oesophagus on the 3rd October 2011 at Dublin’s St James Hospital. Though initially deemed successful, a day after the operation James had a heart attack, which was brought on by respiratory failure due to sepsis.

After his heart attack, Robert slipped into a coma and ever since has experienced minimal consciousness, unable to communicate and unaware of those around him. As such, Robert is reliant on twenty-four hour care.

Acting on behalf of her husband, Angela made a claim for medical negligence compensation against St James Hospital for their failure to diagnose her husband’s sepsis. In her claim, Angela alleged that the hospital had failed to meet established criteria for systemic inflammatory response and sepsis. She also alleged that the hospital did not recognise her husband’s symptoms of organ failure.

St James’ Hospital denied that they had failed to diagnose Robert’s sepsis, though conceded that there had been general failings in the standard of care provided to Robert. Negotiations between the parties resulted in an interim settlement of compensation worth €550,000, which was to help provide for Robert’s care for a two-year period.

This interim settlement proceeded to the High Court for approval, as the claim for compensation had been made on the behalf of someone unable to represent themselves in court. Mr Justice Kevin Cross was presented evidence of Robert’s illness and heard testimonies from Robert’s family of the impacts his condition have had on them. After hearing from Angela of how the settlement would help ensure that Robert’s care is provided for, Judge Cross approved the settlement of compensation.

Family Seek Compensation for Post-Operative Infection

The family of a woman who died from organ failure following a routine operation, have begun claiming compensation for their loss.

On the 13th July 2013, Susan McGee – a fifty-two year-old mother of two from Rush, Co. Dublin – was admitted t the Hermitage Medical Clinic. Susan was to undergo an operation to remove a hernia; initially deemed successful, Susan was discharged a few days later to the care of Melissa Barry, one of her children.

However, just one day after her discharge Susan began feeling unwell and experiencing pain and discomfort in her stomach. She and her daughter returned to the medical centre where she was readmitted for observation. Yet Susan continued to worsen, and a CAT scan conducted on the 22nd July showed that she had an obstruction in her intestine.

An emergency operation was carried out to help clear the blockage, though Susan did not improve. The next day, she was moved to Beaumont Hospital, where she tragically died on the 24th July. Her cause of death was multiple organ failure caused by sepsis, which was in turn caused by a  Clostridium difficile infection.

In February 2015, an inquest was carried out into the circumstances of Susan’s death. However, it was adjourned as only the consultants overseeing Susan’s care gave statements. There was an additional risk that the evidence provided by the nurses at the hospital would be contradicted by Melissa’s testimony.

The case reconvened in June 2015 at the Dublin City Coroner’s Court. There, the court heard that the medical staff had not noticed that there was faecal fluid draining from Susan’s nasogastric tube. Additionally, there was a gap in the records of Susan’s vital signs between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm on the 21st July, just three days before her death.

Whilst Susan was at the hospital, there was just one resident medical officer on duty, Dr Lachman Pahwani. Whilst speaking during the hearing, Dr Pahwani claimed that he had devoted as much time as possible to Susan whilst she was under his care, but that he had another eighty-one patients to care for during that period.

The court ruled that Susan died because of medical misadventure and once the hearing concluded, Susan’s family announced their intent to claim for wrongful death due to a fatal post-surgical infection, medical negligence and bereavement due to medical negligence.