Medical Negligence Compensation Settlement in Malak Thawley Legal Action

An undisclosed compensation settlement has been agreed in relation to the medical negligence involved in the death of a woman, Malak Thawley, during surgery for an ectopic pregnancy in 2016.

Her husband, Alan Thawley settled his High Court action for medical negligence compensation.

Mrs Thawley, , a teacher and a US citizen, was pregnant with her  first when she died during a surgical  procedure at the Holles Street hospital on May 8, 2016. She was 34 years old.

Mr Thawley told the court last week that the death of his partner was due to a “cascade of negligence”. His legal representative, Liam Reidy SC, said that the doctor who was responsible for the surgical procedure that resulted in Malak’s death was an inexperienced junior surgeon.

He went on to say that the negligent actions of the medics included taking the decision was taken to cool Mrs Thawley’s brain with ice and then finding that there was no ice in the hospital. Following this two doctors were sent to a close by pub to get ice.

Presiding judge, Mr Justice Anthony Barr was advised that he could strike out the case as it had been settled for compensatory damages only and aggravated or exemplary damages were not included. There were no further details of the medical negligence settlement were provided.

Alan Thawley, speaking to the press outside the Court, said that he was glad to have come to a settlement after a long and difficult process. He remarked: “There is no compensation that could replace the profound loss of my wife’s untimely and needless death”.

Mr Thawley added: “The proceedings were brought forth to expose the cascade of negligence demonstrated by the hospital”.

He will also assisting with the Department of Health’s Ministerial Inquiry to help to prevent other people suffering, as he has, going forward.

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EMA Hearing on Epilim Addressed by Irish Woman

A Co Meath mother of three sons, who have suffered major illness as a result of complication caused  by the Epilepsy treatment drug Epilim, has addressed at the European Medicines Agency review (EMA) into its use by pregnant women.

In September 2017), Karen Keely, a representative of the Foetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome Forum impressed on the review hearing the ramifications that her sons have experienced due to her being prescribed the drug at the time she was pregnant with them. They will now face issue over the remainder of their lives, two of them can neverhope to live a ‘normal’ life.

Ms Keely said: ““I have been mourning my children since the day they came into my life and I’m determined to not let this injustice happen to other families in the same way that it has happened to mine.”

Karen implored that a national register in Ireland of those who were on the medicine and people who are being prescribed it in the future must be set up. In addition to this Ms Keely asked for more research into the scale of the problem and accountability to be funded and supported. According to her the HSE had information available on the Internet but wider publicity about it’s available is necessary.

The EMA public hearing, which begun on 9 March 2017 at the request of the French medicines regulator, ANSM hosted citizens of six European Union member states describing their experience to the PRAC (Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee) members attending. it has been acknowledged that Epilim can cause physical deformities, brain damages and autism in children whose mothers are treated with it when they are pregnant.  At present being considered a major factor in 40 cases of birth defects and disabilities, made known to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) in recent times.

The outcomes of the EMA review are predicted to lead to new recommendations regarding the use of Epilim in Ireland will be drawn up by the HPRA.

 

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Personal Injury Compensation Payout Details Must Be Made Public: PIC

The Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) has called for injury data held by insurance companies to be collated and published.

In its first report from the PIC recommended that data relating to the incidence of ‘whiplash’ and other soft tissue injuries should be made available to the public.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns chairs the Commission which was set up to address the rising cost of motor insurance premiums. Justice Kearns said that such data should be made available from insurers so that it can form part of the National Claims Information Database which is being developed by the Central Bank of Ireland at present.

The report finds that the figures being awarded for whiplash claims should correlate to the severity of the injury, with a standardised grading scheme set up to achieve this. It states there needs to be more transparency in relation to payouts for whiplash injuries as levels of general damages are not included in legislation. Award levels are determined ultimately by judicial decisions.

LEGAL FIRMS UNHAPPY WITH REPORT

Separately lawyers that deal with in personal injury compensation cases have hit out at  Personal Injuries Commission’s first recommendations to the Government.

Associate solicitor at Cantillons Solicitors Jody Cantillon, stated: “Firstly, the basis for the Personal Injuries Commission seems to us to be flawed in that the rise in insurance premiums has nothing at all to do with personal injuries litigation.

In relation to the report itself, Mr Cantillon remarked: “We are surprised at the Commission’s ‘recommendation’ that the sums awarded in whiplash claims should be linked to the severity of the condition. This is already the case, so there is nothing new there.

He added “We would have grave concerns about a standardised approach to the diagnosis, treatment and reporting of soft tissue injuries. No one person or injury is the same. The impact that a back injury might have on a new mother is different to the impact such an injury might have on a young man. A standardised approach would not take sufficient consideration of the individuals circumstances.

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Roscommon Woman awarded €5m over Misdiagnosis Negligence Compensation

Bernadette Surlis, (60), from Co Roscommon has had a settlement of €5 million approved in her action against the Health Service Executive (HSE) in relation to misdiagnosis negligence in her care and treatment at Sligo General Hospital during November 2013.

Mrs Surlis from Drinaum, Strokestown in Co Roscommon, is now confined to a wheelchair and lives in a nursing home.

The settlement means she should be able to realise her wish to return home, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told.

Senior Counsel Mr Cush said it was accepted that had Ms Surlis been appropriately and promptly diagnosed and treated, she would not have suffered the injuries. He told the court that liability was admitted.

Ms Surlis, then aged 57, attended Sligo General Hospital on November 3, 2013, as she was suffering from headache, vomiting and dilated left eye pupil, but was triaged as category three and left waiting for three hours. ‘Triaged’ means she was not treated as an immediate emergency and was left waiting to be seen for three hours.

Physicians reviewed her for glaucoma and discharged her. However, she re-attended the next day when the seriousness of her condition was “appreciated for the first time”.

Ms Surlis was transferred to Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital on November 5 as she had suffered hemorrhage and severe and permanent injury. She requires full-time care and Mr Cush said the opinion of experts was that her condition will only marginally improve over the course of her life. She is knowledgeable regarding her condition and has  trouble communicating but can do so with the assistance of her family. Ms Surlis has three adult children and four sisters living close to her.

It is believed that if she had been transferred to Beaumont when she first attended the hospital, she could have been treated successfully and made a full recovery.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said the misdiagnosis compensation settlement was a “reasonable and very good one” and that he hopes the money would provide the best compensation possible for Ms Surlis to live out her life in her own home.

 

 

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€15m Birth Injury Compensation for Boy (4) who was Deprived Oxygen at Birth

The High Court has approved a €15 million Birth Injury Compensation settlement for a boy, now aged 4, who was injured during his birth at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

The hospital apologised to Eoin McCallig from Dunkineely in Co Donegal, and his parents for his injuries and for the devastating consequences for the family.

Following an apology issued by the hospital to the boy, Eoin McCallig his father, Anthony, said the family could forgive a mistake. However, they could not forgive the way HSE treated their family and others in similar cases.

Mr McCallig said that there must be a “better way” of handling cases involving catastrophically injured children than via litigation lasting years to a “bitter end” and last-minute settlement offers. He advised the High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly that the culture and procedures need to change.

He claimed that the HSE has spent approximately €800m in the course of the last ten years in fighting these cases. Mr McCallig stated that this money could be put to better use.

He said the settlement of €15m birth injury compensation settlement would never change what happened to Eoin, but it would provide some solace as they knew that Eoin would now be looked after if anything happened to his parents.

The Coombe Hospital, the court was told, stopped monitoring Eoin’s heart rate at 9.30am on the morning of his birth.

Eoin’s parents claimed that if he had been monitored after this, medical staff would have seen he was in distress before he was born at around 11.30am. The court heard he had been deprived of oxygen in the 20 minutes just before he was born.

It was claimed that if Eoin had been monitored and delivered early, he would not have suffered such injuries. The court was told Eoin was a very clever boy, but he cannot walk or talk and can communicate only with his eyes and expressions.

In a statement released through their solicitor, Michael Boylan, Eoin McCallig’s parent said the birth injury settlement was welcome but the family “would hand this €15 million settlement back in a heartbeat if Eoin could get back what was robbed from him in those two precious hours before his birth”.

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€7.5m Compensation Award After Brain Injury Suffered Before Birth

A boy who was inflicted with a brain injury just before has born when his mother was thrown from a car as she was on her way to have a final pregnancy scan has settled his High Court Baby Injury Compensation action for €7.5m.

After the accident, Cian Hammel had to be delivered by emergency Caesarean section in hospital. The High Court was told that in the accident his mother, aged 17 at the time, was thrown from the seven-seater vehicle in which she was a back-seat passenger. The driver of the car did not have motor insurance.  The accident occurred on February 3, 2009 near Manhanagh, Screen, Co Wexford. The boy now has difficulty walking and is unsteady on his feet and also has difficulties with language.

Taking the Baby Injury Compensation action through his grandmother Ann, Cian Hammel of Ford Court, Kilmuckridge, Co Wexford sued the driver of the car, Simon Jordan, of Monaseed, High Fort, Gorey, Co Wexford.

The Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), which handles compensation claims for victims of uninsured driving, was also sued as a result of the accident.

The car which was driven by Mr Jordan allegedly went out of control and flipped causing Cian’s mother Roisin Hammel, who was in a rear seat, to be flung from the vehicle. Senior Counsel Rosario Boyle told the court that Roisin, who was studying for her Leaving Cert, had accepted a lift to attend her final scan.

Additionally, it was alleged that Mr Jordan had overtaken another vehicle when it was not safe to do so and that he was driving at an excessive speed given the weather conditions. These claims were denied.

Ms Boyle said Ms Hammel was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. However, the MIBI later acknowledged that, had she been wearing a seat belt, the consequences for Cian would not have been better.

She said Ms Hammel’s waters broke and, due to this, she had to have an emergency caesarean section in hospital due to foetal distress. Ms Hammel, counsel said, was told to prepare for the worst and when Cian was delivered. He had to be resuscitated and there was multi-organ failure.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the baby injury compensation settlement and said he hoped it will provide for Cian’s needs for the future.

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Over 1,000 Unnecessary Deaths due to Medical Error in Ireland Annually

Roger Murray, a legal expert speaking at a medical negligence conference attended by solicitors, medical professionals and patients in early September,  said that around 1,000 unnecessary deaths happen annually every year due to medical negligence.

Mr Murray, joint Managing partner at Callan Tansey solicitors, stated that the most commonly experienced incidents relate to surgery (36 per cent) medicine (24 per cent), maternity (23 per cent) and gynaecology (7.5 per cent).

As a solicitor who has been involved in many medical negligence compensation cases, Mr Murray said that though injured patients and families do have empathy for medical professionals who make mistakes “they cannot abide is systemic and repeated errors”.

He called for thorough investigations when mistakes do happen and referred to many inquest situations where families learned that desktop reviews had been completed following a death, and the results were not disseminated to appropriate staff. A vital learning opportunity had been missed.

Mr Murray said 160,000 hospital visitors experience injuries due to human mistakes and errors. Mr Tansey was speaking at the Pathways to Progress conference on medical negligence and said that he believes that there is “no compo culture” to be witnessed when it comes to medical negligence compensation actions in Ireland, saying that what we are seeing in the legal system is just “the top of a very murky iceberg”.

He added that he feels that not all those injured in medical incidents report it. The HSE is notified of 34,170 “clinical incidents” annually and, o,f these 575 resulted in compensation claims against the HSE, a rate of less than 1.7 per cent.

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State Compensation Claims Costs Increased to €2.2bn during 2016

Compensation claims taken against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and child protection agency Tusla accounted for €1.9 billion of the €2.2 billion total paid out by the State in 2016 according to a report recently released by the State Claims Agency. This is an increase of 22 per cent.

The agency reported that the complete cost, at the end of 2016, of outstanding compensation claims against the State had risen 22 per cent to €2.2 billion.

Séamus McCarthy Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) stated that “the number of claims under management has increased significantly since 2011”. The State Claims Agency manages legal actions taken against the State. The body’s most recent set of accounts also shows that the number and cost of legal actions involving public bodies have been rising steadily in recent years.

Compensation awards and legal costs past out by the agency paid out in 2016 amounted to €256.2 million, roughly 20 per cent up on the 2015 figures. Additionally the figures released show an increase in the number of legal actions pending against the State of almost 3,000 from the 2011 figures. In 2011 there were 6,000 actions taken, compared to 8,900 in 2016.

Claims against the Department of Health accounted for €27 million. Cases against the Department of Education had an estimated bill of €50 million. Other government departments and bodies were responsible for compensation cases worth €27 million.

The State Claims Agency was established by the Irish Government in 2001 as a reaction to the surge in numbers of compensation claims being taken against the State. The body is part of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), the body that borrows funds for the Government and helps manage the State’s finances.

The body mainly deals with compensation claims involving personal injury, clinical negligence and property damage taken against State bodies.

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Award of Hospital Fall Injury Compensation Put on Hold

A €58,500 award of hospital fall injury compensation – made in favour of a seventy-nine year old woman – has been put on hold by a Circuit Civil Court judge.

In April 2015, the woman from Finglas in Dublin attended the city´s Mater Misericordiae University Hospital as a day patient for a gastroscopy procedure. Following the procedure, she was left alone to recover from her sedation and, while attempting to get out of bed, fell – suffering a spinal fracture.

As a result of her accident, the woman spent nearly a month recovering in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital before being transferred to the Orthopaedic Hospital in Clontarf for a further three months. She now has to permanently wear a lumbar brace and has to rely on a wheelchair for her mobility.

The woman subsequently made a claim for hospital fall injury compensation, alleging medical staff should not have left her on her own when it was known she had previously fallen at her home. She claimed the hospital had further failed in its duty of care by not adhering to its falls prevention policy.

The claim for hospital fall injury compensation was heard by Judge James O´Donohoe at the Circuit Civil Court. At the hearing, the judge was told the plaintiff had lost her independence due to the accident and was a changed woman as a result. The judge also heard testimony from an expert witness who said, considering the woman´s previous medical history, she should have been monitored more closely.

Finding that no special precautions had been taken to ensure the safety of a patient known to have fallen previously, Judge O´Donohoe awarded the woman €58,500 hospital fall injury compensation. He then put the award on hold pending an appeal from the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital subject to the hospital paying €30,000 of the compensation award at once.

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Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Birth Brain Injuries

A High Court judge has approved a $15 million settlement of compensation for birth brain injuries due to alleged negligence in favour of a nine-year-old boy.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the nine-year-old boy was born at Cork University Hospital at 9:00pm on August 11th 2008 after allegedly showing signs of foetal distress throughout the day. Among the alleged errors made by hospital staff prior to the boy´s delivery there had been a failure of skill in clinical history taking, and in the examination of the baby and his mother.

It was also alleged there had been an unreasonable delay in acting upon a CTG trace that indicated a variable decline in the foetal heart rate. As a result, it was claimed, the boy suffered brain birth injuries. Due to cerebral palsy and epilepsy, the boy suffers daily seizures, has visual and cognitive impairments, is confined to a wheelchair and requires full-time care. He will never be able to live independently.

Soon after the boy´s birth, his parents claimed compensation for birth brain injuries against Cork University Hospital and the HSE. Liability was eventually admitted in February last year after an eight-year wait, during which time the boy´s parents provided the majority of his care due to community services in Kerry being “almost non-existent” the boy´s mother told Judge Cross.

Prior to the judge approving the settlement of compensation for birth brain injuries, a statement was read to the family by representatives of Cork University Hospital, in which the hospital apologized for the errors that led to the boy´s brain injuries. The boy´s mother also read a statement to the court in which she described her son as a very happy boy who like being out on the fresh air.

Approving the settlement of compensation for birth brain injuries, Judge Cross ordered €720,000 of the settlement to be paid to the boy´s parents as special damages and the remainder to be paid into court. The judge said it was a very good settlement, and he wished the boy and his family well for the future.

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