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.