Irish Mother Addresses EU Review of Epilepsy Treatment Drug

Karen Keely, from Rathoat Co Meath, is a mother of three sons who have experienced illness due to use of the Epilepsy treatment drug Epilim. Two of her sons will never live a normal life due to issues caused by the drug.

Last September (2017) Ms Keely, a member of the Foetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome Forum gave evidence at the European Medicines Agency about the difficulties her sons have gone through over the duration of their lives.

She said: “Two of my 3 boys require life-long care and will never live a normal life, will never be able to have children or get married. The effects of sodium valproate have been unbearable.

Ms Keely added: “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.”

She also remarked said one of the issues was that some people treated with valproate long term may receive the drug medication contained in a plastic bag.

A national register in Ireland of those who were on the medicine and people who are being prescribed it in the future should established according to Ms Keely who also called for more studie into the scale of the problem and accountability to be conducted. Though the HSE makes the information available online but wider publicity was needed according to the Co Meath mother.

The EU hearing brought together speakers from six EU Member Countries to tell the story their experiences to the members of the PRAC (Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee). Epilim has been seen to be a leading cause of physical deformities, brain damages and autism in children whose mothers are treated with it while pregnant. At present it is being implicated in 40 cases of birth defects and disabilities, reported to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA)  in Ireland.

Findings of the EMA review are expected to lead to new guidelines regarding it being prescribed to pregnant females.

 

Posted in Childbirth Negligence in Ireland, Medical Negligence in Ireland

€5m Misdiagnosis Compensation Settlement For Roscommon Woman

Bernadette Surlis, 60 years old, has seen her settlement of €5 million approved in her legal action against the Health Service Executive (HSE) for misdiagnosis negligence in the treatment she received at Sligo General Hospital in November 2013.

Senior Counsel Mr Cush said that, if  had Ms Surlis been appropriately and quickly diagnosed and treated, she would not have experienced the injuries. He told the court that liability was admitted by the HSE.

Ms Surlis went to Sligo General Hospital on November 3, 2013, as she had a headache, was vomiting and had a dilated left eye pupil, but was triaged as category three and left to wait for treatment for a further three hours. ‘Triaged’ refers to the fact that she was not treated as an immediate emergency.

Medical Staff examined her for glaucoma and discharged her. However, she went back the following day when the seriousness of her condition was “appreciated for the first time”.

Ms Surlis from Drinaum, Strokestown in Co Roscommon was sent to Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital on November 5 as she had experienced a hemorrhage and severe/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 went to the hospital, she could have been treated properly and made a complete recovery.

Mrs Surlis is now restricted to a wheelchair and resides in a nursing home. The personal injury misdiagnosis settlement means she may realise her wish to return home, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was advised.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Kevin Cross said the compensation settlement was a “reasonable and very good one” and that he hopes it will allow Ms Surlis to live out the remainder of her life at home.

Posted in Hospital Negligence in Ireland, Incorrect Treatment, Misdiagnosis Claim, Wrong Diagnosis Medical Negligence

Pre-Birth Injury Compensation Settlement of €7.5m approved

A young boy who suffered a brain injury just before has born when his mother was flung from a car as she was travelling in to have a final pregnancy scan has had a €7.5m compensation claim approved in the High Court.

Following the car accident, Cian Hammel an emergency Caesarean section had to be used to deliver him in hospital. The High Court was told that in the road traffic accident his mother Roisin, aged 17 at the time, was flung from the seven-seater motor car in which she was a rear-seat passenger. The driver of the car was not properly insured to be driving the car.  The accident occurred at Manhanagh, Screen, Co Wexford on February 3, 2009. The boy now has trouble walking and is unsteady while walking and also has difficulties with language.

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

The Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), which manages compensation claim for victims of uninsured driving, was also sued following the road traffic accident.

It was claimed that the car, driven by Mr Jordan, went out of control, turned over the air resulting in Cian’s mother Roisin Hammel being flung from the rear seat of the vehicle. Senior Counsel Rosario Boyle advised the court that Roisin, who was studying for her Leaving Cert, was being given a lift to attend her final pre-delivery scan.

It was also claimed that Mr Jordan had passed another vehicle when it was unsafe to do so and that he was driving too fast in the weather conditions. These claims were denied by the Defence.

Ms Boyle stated that Ms Hammel was not wearing a seat belt when the accident happened. However, the MIBI later agreed that, had she been wearing her seat belt, the results for her baby would not have been any better.

Ms Hammel’s waters broke and, due to foetal distress, she had to have an emergency caesarean section in hospital. When Cian was delivered he had to be resuscitated and experienced multi-organ failure.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the pre-birth accident compensation settlement and said he hopes it will provide for Cian’s needs going forward.

Posted in Childbirth Negligence in Ireland

Conference Told 1,000 Deaths Caused by Medical Negligence in Ireland Annually

A legal expert speaking at a gathering of solicitors, medical professionals and patents in September said that approximately 1,000 unnecessary deaths are caused every year in Ireland due to medical error.

Roger Murray, joint Managing Partner at Callan Tansey solicitors, said that up to 160,000 hospital visitors suffer injuries annually due to human error. Mr Murray was speaking at the Pathways to Progress conference on medical negligence and insisted that there is “no compo culture” evident when it comes to medical negligence compensation action, saying that what we are seeing in the legal system is just “the top of a very murky iceberg”.

Mr Murray, a solicitor who has been involved in a number of high-profile medical negligence compensation cases, said that he believes that not all people injured in medical incidents report it while the HSE is notified of 34,170 “clinical incidents” annually. Of these 575 resulted in compensation claims against the HSE, a rate of less than 1.7 per cent.

He told those attending the conference that the most commonly experienced cases relate to surgery (36 per cent) medicine (24 per cent), maternity (23 per cent) and gynaecology (7.5 per cent).

Mr Murray stressed that while injured patients and families do have empathy for medical professionals who make errors, “they cannot abide is systemic and repeated errors”.

He called for thorough reviews when mistakes do happen, Mr Murray said he had witnessed many inquest situations where families learned that desktop reviews had been completed following a death, and the results were not disseminated to appropriate staff.

Posted in Hospital Injury in Ireland, Hospital Negligence in Ireland, Incorrect Treatment, Medical Accidents in Ireland, Medical Misadventure, Medical Negligence in Ireland, Nursing Negligence in Ireland, Wrong Diagnosis Medical Negligence

Settlement of Meningitis Misdiagnosis Compensation Approved

A €5.6 million settlement of meningitis misdiagnosis compensation has been approved at the High Court in favour of a fifteen-year-old girl from County Cork.

On July 2005, the concerned parents of a three-year-old girl from Ballinalough in County Cork phoned the South Doc service to express concerns about their daughter´s condition. After explaining that their daughter was suffering from nausea, drowsiness and a high temperature – and had developed a rash on her stomach – they were told to bring their daughter to the clinic for an examination.

The family arrived at 5:00am and the little girl was examined by Dr Leon Britz, who diagnosed tonsillitis and told the family to go home. However, the girl´s condition deteriorated and – at 9:30am – the family returned to the clinic where, after an examination by another doctor, she was diagnosed with meningitis and taken to the Emergency Department of Cork University Hospital.

Once antibiotics were administered at Cork University Hospital, the girl was transferred to Our Lady´s Children´s Hospital where she had to have both legs amputated below the knee. The girl subsequently underwent 132 operations over the next twelve years to deal with other health issues that were caused by the meningitis and that could have been avoided with a correct initial diagnosis.

The girl´s mother made a meningitis misdiagnosis compensation claim on her daughter´s behalf against Dr Britz and South West Doctors on Call Ltd. It was alleged in the claim that the misdiagnosis of meningitis constituted negligence on the part of the doctor and that South West Doctors on Call Ltd was vicariously liable for the “profound consequences” of the initial misdiagnosis.

Liability was admitted for the misdiagnosis and the girl´s subsequent injuries. A settlement of the meningitis misdiagnosis compensation claim amounting to €5.6 million was agreed between the parties; but, as the claim had been made on behalf of a minor, the settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the girl´s best interests.

At the approval hearing at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told about the visits to the South Doc service on 10th July 2005 and that, had antibiotics been administered at an earlier stage, many of the consequences of the girl´s condition could have been avoided. Judge Cross approved the settlement of meningitis misdiagnosis compensation and praised the girl´s parents for the care they had provided – commenting that the outcome could have been a lot worse.

Posted in Medical Negligence in Ireland, Misdiagnosis Claim, Wrong Diagnosis Medical Negligence Tagged with: , ,

Judge Approves Settlement for Creche Abuse Case

A judge in the Circuit Civil Court has approved a settlement offered by a creche to a young girl who had suffered abuse at the facility, after a previous judge rejected the initial settlement, deeming it too low.

In September 2012, the young girl was enrolled in the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre in Stepaside, County Dublin began to attend her creche´s “Toddler´s Room”, as she was of a sufficient age. After the transfer, her parents alleged that she started showing signs of anxiety, and would cry “No creche! No creche!” as she was prepared each morning. When her parents picked her up in the evening, was often withdrawn and lethargic.

The girl´s parents, concerned by their daughter’s sudden change in behaviour, made an appointment to express their concerns with her carer. They discussed the signs of anxiety and disturbed sleep, but were told she was receiving an appropriate level of supervision offered by the creche. However, after watching the RTE documentary “A Breach of Trust”, they witnessed their daughter´s carer being abusive to children in the same age group, the parents removed the girl from the creche. They immediately sought legal counsel.

On behalf of their daughter, a creche abuse claim was subsequently made against the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre on the grounds that the girl had suffered emotional injuries due to the abuse. The defendants initially denied liability, but an offer of settlement was made amounting to €15,000 in spite of no admission of liability. As the creche abuse claim had been made on behalf of a child, it first had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was fair and in the child´s best interest.

The case was heard by to Judge James O´Donohue at the Circuit Civil Court in July 2015. The circumstances behind the creche abuse claim, and the affect it had on the young girl, were detailed to the judge. Judge O´Donohue ruled that the proposed settlement of the crèche abuse claim was insufficient for the level of injury it was claimed the girl had suffered. He refused to approve the settlement made by the creche.

The two parties entered a period of negotiation, after which a further offer of settlement was made to the girl´s parents. This time, the approval hearing was heard by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. The circumstances of the girl´s alleged emotional injuries were once again related to the court. Judge Groarke enquired whether the girl had suffered lasting psychological damage and, after assurance that she had not, he approved the larger unknown settlement of the claim.

Posted in Nursing Negligence in Ireland

Families Seek Compensation for Epilim Birth Defects

Families in France are seeking compensation for Epilim birth defects after a report linked the drug to thousands of child congenital and development issues.

Epilim has been prescribed in Ireland since 1983 to treat epilepsy, bipolar disorder, migraine and several types of chronic pain. First introduced in France in the 1960s under the brand name Depakine, Epilim has an active ingredient – sodium valproate – that stabilises electrical activity in the brain.

Over the past fifty years, it has been claimed that taking Epilim while pregnant can result in new-born babies suffering foetal valproate syndrome – a condition that can manifest as autism, cleft palate, spina bifida, a heart or kidney defect, a physical deformity or development issues.

Now research conducted by France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) has confirmed the claims after monitoring 8,701 children born to women known to have taken Depakine while pregnant between 2007 and 2014 – approximately 0.2% of all child births in France during the period.

The research identified up to 4,100 children were suffering “severe malformations” due to being exposed to the teratogenic nature of valproate in the womb – results that support a smaller study conducted by France´s social affairs inspectorate IGAS earlier this year.

The children´s parents allege the manufacturer of the drug – Sanofi – failed to place adequate warnings in packets of Depakine or advise medical practitioners of the possible side effects of sodium valproate, and have now started a class action in order to seek compensation for Epilim birth defects.

Although the manufacturer made an announcement about the risks of taking sodium valproate in 2006, a study two years later found that one in five doctors and one in three pharmacists (in France) were still unaware of the effects of sodium valproate on unborn children. Prescription rules were not tightened until 2014 and, in Ireland, Epilim is still sold without a warning in large type on the front of the packet.

If a member of your family has suffered a congenital or development issue due to not being informed about the risks of sodium valproate, several options exist to claim compensation for Epilim birth defects. It is recommended that you speak with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity to explain your personal situation and to find out what your options are.

Posted in Medical Negligence in Ireland Tagged with: ,

Family Wins Compensation for Birth Negligence After Nine Years

A family has been awarded compensation for birth negligence by hospital staff which left their son severely disabled, after a nine-year-long battle with the HSE.

In May 2006, a baby boy was born Kerry General Hospital. Due to complications, the boy was born by by emergency Caesarean Section. The birth was largely complicated due to a series of errors made my the staff at the facility. The boy’s birth was delayed by two hours for no justifiable reason, and the consultant obstetrician was not made aware of an abnormal foetal heartbeat. Staff further failed to identify the possibility of foetal hypoxia, and no action was taken on a CTG trace indicating foetal distress.

Due to the avoidable delay in his birth, the boy suffered from oxygen deprivation, resulting in life-altering brain damage. He was later diagnosed with mixed dyskinetic spastic cerebral palsy. He has since required around-the-clock care, he cannot speak and is confined to a wheelchair. He will continue to need this level of care attention for the rest of his life. Despite the clear negligence of the staff, the HSE failed to admit liability for nine years, during which time the boy´s family had to care for him on their own without the support they were entitled to by the state.

After being threatened with aggravated damages, the HSE finally admitted liability for the birth negligence claim early last year. An interim settlement of €2.7 million compensation for brain damage at birth was awarded after being rushed through the court system for approval. Earlier this month, the family was back in court for the approval of a final lump sum settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth amounting to €15 million. As the compensation was for a minor, the amount had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in the boy’s best interests. The sum of compensation was described as “commercial common and legal sense” by presiding judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

Judge Kelly paid tribute to the boy´s parents for the care of their son, and added while no money would compensate the boy and his family, it was the only form of redress the law could provide. He approved the settlement of compensation for the boy. He hoped it would give peace of mind that there is a fund to care for the boy´s needs into the future. As the boy is a ward of court, the settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth will be paid into court funds and managed by court authorities.

Posted in Childbirth Negligence in Ireland, Hospital Injury in Ireland, Medical Negligence in Ireland, Nursing Negligence in Ireland

Boy Awarded Compensation in Birth Negligence Case

A judge has awarded compensation to a boy who suffers from Erb’s Palsy as a result of medical negligence surrounding his birth.

In March 2010, a baby boy was born at Kerry General Hospital. The baby’s mother asked that the baby be by Caesarean section. Ignoring her requests, the medical staff instead delivered the boy was naturally with the assistance of a vacuum cup.

Due to the baby´s size, his shoulder got stuck as he passed through his mother´s birth canal. As the medical staff tried to free him, suffered shoulder dystocia. Due to the force that was used during the procedure, the boy (now six years of age) will now have a weakened left arm for the rest of his life.

On his son´s behalf, the boy´s father claimed compensation for Erb´s palsy against the Health Service Executive (HSE). The defendants initially contested liability for the boy´s injuries, but after some negotiation the two parties agreed on a settlement of compensation amounting to €530,000.
As the claim for compensation for Erb´s palsy had been made on behalf of a child, the settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the boy´s best interests. The approval hearing took place earlier this week at the High Court before Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the hearing, Judge Cross was told that an ultrascan had shown the boy to be a large baby. Due to the complications which can be met because of his potential size, his mother had requested a Caesarean section delivery during a consultation and again when she was admitted to hospital in labour.
At the hearing, the judge heard more details about the young boy’s life. The family’s legal team heard that the boy is very good at maths and has learned to write with his left hand, although he is unable to close buttons or tie shoes and will struggle at sports later in life. The judge approved the settlement of compensation for Erb´s palsy, deeming it suitable, and wished the family well for the future

Posted in Childbirth Negligence in Ireland, Doctor Negligence in Ireland, Hospital Negligence in Ireland, Medical Instruments Negligence, Medical Negligence in Ireland, Nursing Negligence in Ireland

Interim Settlement Approved for Birth Injuries

A young boy has been awarded a €1.35 million settlement of medical negligence compensation by the High Court of Dublin.

The child, who has remained anonymous, was born the Cork University Maternity Hospital in March 2010. However, his parents allege that the medical staff were negligent in their actions by failing to correctly interpret a CTG scan which indicated that the boy was suffering from foetal distress syndrome.

As the scan did not appear to return any worrying results, the necessary Caesarean section was not performed in a timely manner. As such, the boy suffered from hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy due to a lack of oxygen. When he was delivered, it was apparent that he had severe brain damage.

The brain damage was extensive, and the young boy – now six – is blind and unable to speak. Suffering from daily seizures, he is reliant upon his parents and extended family for twenty-four hour support. The family receives additional care from the Jack and Jill Foundation.

Acting on her son’s behalf, the boy’s mother consulted a medical negligence solicitor and made a claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE). Though the HSE denied that they were negligent, they agreed to pay an interim settlement of compensation of €1.35 million without admitting liability. The case will then be assessed for further settlements.

The claim proceeded to the High Court of Dublin for approval. Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who oversaw proceedings, was told of how hard it was for the boy’s family to get compensation for the delayed Caesarean section, and of their relief that the process was over. Wishing the family the best for the future, Judge Cross approved the settlement and adjourned the case for three years.

Posted in Childbirth Negligence in Ireland