Augustus Cullen Law have recently concluded a medical negligence action on behalf of a man who had an incorrect valve inserted in his heart during surgery.
The Plaintiff underwent coronary by-pass and mitral valve replacement surgery in January 2009. Following this operation the surgical team were unable to bring the Plaintiff off bypass and he was admitted to Intensive Care and placed on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) in order to keep him alive. Two days after his operation, it was noted by a member of the hospital’s staff that the valve which was thought to have been inserted into the Plaintiff’s heart was actually still in the hospital’s stock room. This prompted further investigations which confirmed that in fact the incorrect type of artificial valve had been inserted into the Plaintiff’s heart during his operation.
As a result, the Plaintiff underwent further heart surgery to remove and replace the incorrect valve. Following this operation he remained on ECMO until he was weaned off a further two days later. Given how gravely ill the Plaintiff was during this time it was miraculous that he survived. He was eventually discharged home in mid February 2009. However it had become apparent in the days following surgery that he had developed bilateral foot drop.
The Plaintiff was understandably extremely concerned about how the valve error had happened and the damage which it had caused him. Augustus Cullen law were instructed by the Plaintiff and we carried out a thorough investigation into the care the Plaintiff received and the injuries which he had suffered. Expert opinions were obtained from consultants in Intensive Care Medicine, Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Surgery and Neurology. The evidence indicated that the Plaintiff’s period in intensive care, his overall hospital stay and his recovery were prolonged by the Defendant’s negligence but that he had made an excellent recovery overall from a cardiology perspective. In terms of the foot drop suffered by the Plaintiff, it appeared that this was most likely caused by the fact that during the period when the incorrect valve was inserted, the Plaintiff was in a state of poor peripheral perfusion. It is understood that this period of severe under-perfusion caused ischaemic damage to the common peroneal nerve resulting in bilateral foot drop. Happily, after suffering with this foot drop for over a year the Plaintiff went on to make a good recovery in this aspect also and was not left with any persisting functional disability.
High Court proceedings were served in April 2013. The litigation was subsequently progressed to the point where, prior to delivering a formal Defence, the Defendant confirmed that negligence was being admitted. Settlement negotiations were subsequently entered into in October 2014 and these were successfully concluded with the Defendant agreeing to pay considerable damages to the Plaintiff for the injuries which he had suffered.
22 December 2014