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.

Bereaved Couple Criticise HSE Apology

A couple, who were recently read an apology by the HSE expressing regret for the death of their newborn, have publicly criticised the organisation for the six-year delay in apologising.

Caoimhe Mulcair was born at the Midland Regional Hospital on the 11th February 2009 to Joan and John Mulcair, a couple from Corbally, Limerick. Caoimhe was eagerly anticipated by her parents, who had been trying for a child for many years before her birth. However, just thirty-nine minutes after her delivery, Caoimhe tragically died in her mother’s arms.

Earlier this month, an inquest was held concerning  the circumstances of Caoimhe’s death. There, medical experts gave evidence that she had suffered a lack of oxygen to her brain in utero and that, during her mother’s labour, it was noted that the foetus’ heartbeat was slowing.

Following established recommendations, the jury at the inquest ruled that Caoimhe’s death was due to medical misadventure. Before this ruling, however, Joan and John were read a statement by Collette Cowan, the Chief Executive of the Midland Regional Hospital, which apologised for baby Caoimhe’s death.

Yet Joan and John publicly refused to accept the apology, claiming that it had been delivered six years too late. After the conclusion of the inquest, John expressed his disgust that the HSE had put “an ordinary decent family through the pain and torment we had to endure for over six years”.

John went on the comment that, for years after his daughter’s death, the HSE refused to accept any responsibility for her death until last December, where they finally conceded liability and settled the family’s claim for bereavement compensation.

However, the HSE reported that it did not have control over medical negligence cases, and that the State Claims Agency handled cases such as that of the Mulcair’s. This comment, too, was criticised by a columnist for the Irish Times, who wrote that “A common interest links the HSE and the claims agency and there has been a persistent pattern of denial, prevarication and years of unnecessary delay in dealing with medical claims. The public and aggrieved patients deserve better. So do the vast majority of medical professionals.”