CK –v– Gerry Rafferty

The Plaintiff in these proceedings underwent a routine total abdominal hysterectomy in Mount Carmel Hospital in 2008. She was a private patient of the Defendant, Gerry Rafferty, who is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.

Mr Rafferty carried out the total abdominal hysterectomy, during which the Plaintiff suffered an injury to her bladder. Some three weeks post operatively the Plaintiff suffered from urinary incontinence and subsequent investigation showed that she had developed a vesico-vaginal fistula. She was subsequently treated with an indwelling catheter and required surgery to repair the fistula. The Plaintiff also suffered from severe psychiatric illness as a result of her injuries. The Plaintiff issued proceedings claiming that the injuries were caused by a misplaced suture into the bladder wall which lead to delayed necrosis and ultimately a hole developing in her bladder which led to her incontinence and that this represented a failure to adhere to a standard of care expected of a consultant gynaecologist. A full defence was delivered by the Defendant and the matter proceeded to trial. The case was heard before Mr Justice O’Neill and ran for some 25 days. Numerous possibilities were raised by the Defendant as to how the fistula may have been caused and the outcome of the case depended on same. The Defendants argued that bruising or injury caused to the bladder by the retractors may have caused the injury; or indeed erosion of the bladder wall by the friction of the knotting of the suture material against the bladder wall, or that infection may have caused the injury.

In considering all of the evidence before him, Mr Justice O’Neill held that the probable cause of the Plaintiff’s fistula was a misplaced suture into the bladder and that this was due to inadequate care on the part of the Defendant. The Plaintiff was awarded the sum of €200,000 in general damages for pain and suffering together with €225,000 for loss of earnings to date and into the future. She was also awarded approximately €13,000 in relation to additional items of special damage. Therefore the total sum awarded to the Plaintiff amounted to approximately €438,000 together with costs.

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02 January 2013

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