LN –v– FR

In September 2007, the Plaintiff underwent surgery in the form of a sigmoid colectomy in the Defendant Hospital to treat diverticular disease. Initially, her progress was good, but on the third post-operative day, she began complaining of discomfort and a distended abdomen. The following day there was evidence of inflammation around the wound site and by the fifth post-operative day, the Plaintiff was complaining of severe pain and expressed concerns regarding infection of the wound.  At one point, the pain was so severe that she informed a member of the medical staff that it felt as if her bowels were bursting. Notwithstanding this, and the continued marked deterioration in her condition, no material intervention occurred until the tenth post-operative day when a laparotomy was undertaken which showed an anastomotic leak and faecal contamination.

The allegations of negligence in this case centred on the decision to undertake the surgery in the first place, on the manner in which the surgery was carried out, on the post-operative care provided, and in failing to diagnose the anastomotic leak far in advance of the laparotomy undertaken. As a result of these failures, it was alleged that the Plaintiff had suffered severe and debilitating personal injuries. She had remained in intensive care for over four weeks following the laparotomy and was not released from Hospital until January 2008, four months after her original admission.  She underwent intensive courses of physiotherapy as she had to learn to walk again, and has not been in position to work since the incident. She required a colostomy, surgical repair of a hernia and fistula which had subsequently developed, and would require further surgery in the future. Her quality of life was drastically affected by the surgery and the resultant complications.

This case was complicated by a number of factors. Proceedings were issued on the 17th of September 2009 and by their Defence, the Defendants admitted negligence in respect of the allegations referred to above. The Defendants denied however that their negligence had caused any injury to the Plaintiff as she had a complicated medical history which they alleged was the cause of her on-going difficulties. The Plaintiff is an extremely well qualified Nurse who has been unable to return to employment following surgery but the Defendants alleged that this was due to her pre-existing medical conditions rather than the injuries sustained. It was also apparent that the Plaintiff would require some level of care and assistance into the future but the expert evidence of the Plaintiff and the Defendant in this regard was substantially different.

The trial of the matter was scheduled to commence on the 19th of June 2013 and on the day in question, settlement negotiations took place. Despite the complications referred to, a settlement of €750,000 was achieved which represented an extremely good award for the Plaintiff in the circumstances. The Plaintiff also secured all of her legal costs associated with the case


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09 July 2013

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