Posted in Success Stories on 17 September 2013

In September 2013, the Medical Negligence team represented a family at the High Court, Cork in a medical negligence action against the Health Service Executive.

The circumstances giving rise to this case concerned the management of a lady of 45 with pneumonia, which was negligently mismanaged at Cork University Hospital (CUH).  As a result of failures surrounding this patient’s medical care, she tragically and needlessly passed away after 5 days in hospital in November 2009.

Her family was never told of how or why she had died. They had no understanding as to what had led to their sister’s untimely death.  All they were told was that it was a complication of childhood brain tumours. The body was released for burial and the family was advised there was no requirement for Post Mortem.

Following the funeral, the family continued to question the sequence of events which led to their sister’s untimely and very much unexpected death. In the absence of answers from the hospital, the family contacted Susie Elliott, Solicitor of the Medical Negligence team in Cantillons Solicitors.  The team undertook an investigation of what had happened. The team commissioned reports from a number of independent medical experts with expertise in adult critical care, anaesthesia, chest medicine and neurosurgery. Unfortunately, the team learned from their investigations, that the suspicions of the family were indeed well founded.  It was clear that their late sister had received inappropriate care which had caused her untimely death. 

Upon completion of the investigation, the team wrote to the HSE seeking an explanation.  The correspondence was met with a wall of silence.   The team was then instructed to issue proceedings against the HSE.  In November 2011, the proceedings were commenced. Alarmingly, a full Defence was delivered by the HSE, denying all wrongdoing in relation to the matter and putting the family on notice that the case had to be proven in full at the High Court.   Undaunted, the family instructed the Medical Negligence team to seek a trial date, and a trial date was duly set.

Ultimately, when faced with a trial date, the HSE admitted liability and apologized unreservedly to the family.  A payment of damages was also made.  Just weeks prior to their sister’s fourth anniversary, the family received the truth and justice they only ever wanted.  The family called for a legal duty of candour and openness, to replace the culture of denial which currently prevails when mistakes are made in the healthcare system.

Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at +353 (0)21 -4275673 or [email protected] if you would like more information.

* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement.

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