ND v. NJ
The Plaintiff in this matter was a fit and healthy woman who attended her GP following a few days of feeling unwell. Her GP wrote a referral letter to the Accident and Emergency Department of a large South Dublin Hospital which stated that she was suffering from suspected appendicitis. She was assessed by the triage nurse and examine by a junior doctor who examined her abdomen and took a blood and urine sample from her. The doctor later returned and informed her that the blood test results were normal and she was suffering from gastroenteritis and she could be discharged with no further treatment.
The Plaintiff continued to be symptomatic over the following days until she attended her GP again one week after she was discharged from hospital and was referred to a separate clinic for an abdominal ultrasound that day. The ultrasound demonstrated a 12cm mass in her abdomen and she was referred back to the original Accident & Emergency Department with a copy of the scan. After a number of hours on a trolley she was attended by a junior doctor who advised her that she had an abscess and would require surgery later. This doctor spoke to a senior colleague and a decision was made to transfer the Plaintiff by ambulance to a large maternity hospital as it was felt that the abscess was gynaecological in origin.
The Plaintiff spent the night in the maternity hospital in a rapidly deteriorating condition. She was informed the next morning that she was to be transferred back to her hospital of origin as she was extremely sick and the surgical team were waiting for her and she required emergency surgery. On arrival she was given fluid infusion and intravenous antibiotics in addition to an oxygen mask. She was noted to look sick, toxic and pale and was tachycardic. At that stage a diagnosis of peritonitis secondary to a perforated appendix was made and she underwent an emergency laparotomy and appendectomy with drainage of the pelvic abscess and pelvic washout. She was transferred to intensive care, intubated and ventilated. The Plaintiff was eventually discharged from hospital approximately 7 weeks after the operation with a severe abdominal wound which required daily changes of the vacuum dressing. The Plaintiff has been left with a scar measuring 15cm x 5 cm on her stomach, an abdominal hernia and will require further surgery with the involvement of a General Surgeon and a Plastic Surgeon in order to try and minimize the appearance of the scar and deal with the abdominal hernia.
Proceedings were issued claiming damages for the injuries suffered by the Plaintiff as a result of the failure on two occasions of the staff at the A&E Department to make the correct diagnosis of appendicitis which led to a life threatening situation for the Plaintiff and has resulted in her being left with a sizeable and visible scar in addition to her requiring further major abdominal surgery. Following service of proceedings on the solicitors acting for the hospital negligence was formally admitted, although the full extent of the injuries suffered by the Plaintiff was left in issue. Following an assessment of the Plaintiff by the Defendant’s own surgical expert a settlement meeting was arranged and the matter was concluded before a Defence was delivered and with a payment of the sum of €220,000 to the Plaintiff in addition to all of her legal costs which represented the full value of the case.
31 August 2010