HSE Settles Claim for the Avoidable Death of Savita Halappanavar

The Irish Health Service Executive has settled a claim for the avoidable death of Savita Halappanavar, who died from sepsis after being refused an abortion.

On the morning of Sunday October 21st 2012, Savita Halappanavar (31) attended the Galway University Hospital complaining of back pain. Unaware that Savita was suffering contractions prior to the miscarriage of her first child, doctors at the hospital sent her home.

Savita returned later that day, when doctors identified that her membranes were bulging and ordered blood tests. Savita was admitted for observation, but was told by the hospital registrar that the loss of her child was inevitable. Anti-biotics were prescribed to prevent an infection.

The following morning, Savita´s waters broke. An “await events” approach was adopted by the hospital, and when Savita asked for a termination on the Tuesday morning, her request was refused because a foetal heartbeat was still present.

By Wednesday, Savita´s condition had deteriorated significantly. She was diagnosed with sepsis and prescribed stronger anti-biotics but, when her condition deteriorated further, the decision was made to terminate the pregnancy. At this point it was discovered that the foetal heartbeat had stopped.

During surgery to remove the foetus, Savita spontaneously delivered her dead child. She was transferred to the hospital´s intensive care unit suffering septic shock, but she became critically ill and suffered a fatal cardiac arrest due to severe sepsis on Sunday October 28th.

Savita´s husband – Praveen – took his wife´s body back to India for burial and, on his return to Ireland, made a claim against the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) for the avoidable death of his wife, alleging that had an abortion been performed when it was first requested, Savita would still be alive.

The claim for the avoidable death of Savita Halappanavar attracted interest from all over the world due to Ireland´s abortion laws that acknowledge the right to life of an unborn child with equal right to life of the mother.

Two investigations were launched into the circumstances that led to Savita´s death – both finding significant failings in the standard of care provided by Galway University Hospital. In April 2013, the jury at the inquest into Savita´s death returned a unanimous verdict of death by medical misadventure.

Praveen subsequently left Ireland to pursue his career in the United States and, on his behalf, Praveen´s solicitor made an application for the claim for the avoidable death of Savita Halappanavar to be heard at the High Court.

A court date was set for March 10th but, days before the hearing was due to commence, it was announced that the claim for the avoidable death of Savita Halappanavar had been settled for an undisclosed six-figure amount.

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Belfast Woman Settles DVT Hospital Negligence Claim against Ulster Hospital for £400,000

A Belfast woman has settled her DVT hospital negligence claim for £400,000 after the Ulster Hospital admitted failing to consider the possibility of deep vein thrombosis during the birth of her first child.

The unnamed 41-year-old woman from Belfast developed deep vein thrombosis (DVT) after her first child was born in June 2009 at the Ulster Hospital. She alleged in her DVT hospital negligence claim against the South Eastern Care and Social Health Trust that she had not properly assessed as being at risk of deep vein thrombosis and that she should have been given preventative drugs.

The woman also alleged that when she subsequently attended Ulster Hospital´s A&E Department with symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, she was told it was probably just her hormones. This was in spite of woman aged 35 or over being in the high risk category of developing deep vein thrombosis which could cause blood clots to form, dislodge and travel up to the lungs where they could be potentially fatal.

Since June 2009, the claimant has had two further children and had to undergo surgery on each occasion for issues related to deep vein thrombosis. She now has to wear support tights and cannot walk for more than 10-15 minutes without becoming extremely tired. She also has difficulty in climbing stairs and has been told that if the deep vein thrombosis causes another clot in her leg, the leg may have to be amputated.

The DVT hospital negligence claim could not be resolved by negotiation, and it proceeded to the Belfast High Court. As the hearing was due to commence, the South Eastern Care and Social Health Trust acknowledged that there had been avoidable failings in the woman´s care, and agreed settle her DVT hospital negligence claim for £400,000.

Speaking after the hearing, the claimant´s solicitor said “If this [claim for compensation for deep vein thrombosis] serves the purpose of ensuring another person avoids this particular difficulty it will have been worthwhile. Any mum aged 35 or over should know they are at potential risk.”

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High Court Awards Compensation for being Discharged from A&E without Proper Treatment

The High Court has awarded a one-hundred-and-two year old pensioner £35,000 compensation for being discharged from A&E without proper treatment.

Lydia Eaton from Wigmore in Kent, fell near her home and broke her pelvis in March 2007. Lydia was taken to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham by ambulance, but discharged eight hours later with a prescription for painkillers.

Due to the untreated injury, Lydia´s mobility decreased. She started to develop sores and ulcers as she was remaining immobile for long periods of time, but no help or support was provided for her or her family from the Medway NHS Trust.

Due to her deteriorating condition, Lydia was moved into a private nursing home the following month and, in order to help pay for the nursing home fees, Lydia´s daughter made a claim for compensation for being discharged from A&E without proper treatment.

In the claim for compensation for being discharged from A&E without proper treatment, the family alleged that Lydia would still be able to lead an independent life were it not for the negligence of the doctors at the Medway Maritime Hospital.

The Medway NHS Trust disputed the claim and the case proceeded to the High Court, where the facts of the case where related to Mr Justice Nigel Sweeney. Judge Sweeney also heard that – since the claim for compensation for being discharged from A&E without proper treatment had been made – Lydia had been moved to a more expensive nursing home due to a further deterioration of her condition.

After hearing testimony from legal representatives of both parties, Judge Sweeney found in Lydia´s favour. He said that Lydia´s premature discharge from the Accident and Emergency Department had been a contributing factor in the deterioration of her condition.

The judge awarded Lydia £35,000 compensation for being discharged from A&E without proper treatment, and ordered that the settlement should be maintained in a trust fund to pay the costs of Lydia´s future care.

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Compensation for Hospital Emergency Room Medical Negligence Approved

The widow of a man, who passed due to avoidable circumstances after being admitted to hospital with abdominal pains, has had a settlement of compensation for hospital emergency room medical negligence death due to septic shock approved by a court in Ireland.

Barry Murphy was just 38 years of age when taken to hospital in April 2008 complaining of pains in his abdomen. Barry was diagnosed with a perforated bowel, and even though the hospital was aware that Barry suffered from Crohn´s Disease, it was not until much later that day that surgery was ordered.

Due to the delay in medical treatment, Barry experienced a septic shock – a condition where clots form in narrow arteries and prevent the flow of blood resulting in low blood pressure and organ failure, and one which doctors knowledgeable of his Crohn´s Disease should have taken into account. Barry was pronounced dead at 11.15pm on the same day as he was brought to hospital.

Barry’s wife, Mary, alleged that the hospital was negligent in treating her husband, failed to operate on him within an acceptable time frame and was responsible for his death. After seeking counsel from medical negligence solicitors, Mary claimed compensation for wrongful death due to septic shock – a claim which the hospital denied for three years, during which time Mary sustained a psychological injury and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

However, after constant pressure and an internal examination, the hospital stated that “the level of care provided fell short of an acceptable standard” and negotiated a settlement of 500,000 Euros compensation for wrongful death due to septic shock with the family.

At the High Court, where the settlement was approved by Mr Justice John Quirk, the hospital also stated that they “apologise unreservedly to Mrs Murphy, their two daughters and the late Mr Murphy’s extended family”.

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