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.

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