Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for a Wrongful Death
A High Court judge has approved a settlement of compensation for the wrongful death of a woman from County Mayo, who died in February 2009 from a perforated bowel.
Mother-of-thirteen Eileen Maloney (69) from Pullathomas, County Mayo, was admitted to Mayo General Hospital on Sunday February 1st 2009 suffering from severe abdominal pain.
Eileen, who was also suffering from cancer, underwent an x-ray which suggested an obstruction in her small bowel; but it was claimed by the family that the x-ray was not reviewed for the possibility of a bowel perforation – the condition which eventually led to her death.
A CT scan, conducted five days after her admission to hospital, showed that a tumour was causing the obstruction in Eileen´s bowel, but again – the family allege – the possibility of a bowel perforation was not considered. Instead, surgery was scheduled for the following week, from which Eileen died on February 17th.
Following an investigation into Eileen´s death, the family claim they were told by one of the medical team that Eileen´s death could have been avoided – despite her being weak from her cancer treatment – if the perforated bowel had been identified in either the initial x-ray or the subsequent scan and prompt medical attention initiated.
The family consequently made a compensation claim for a wrongful death against the hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE), but the HSE denied liability for the mistakes that led to Eileen´s death. The family persisted with their claim and, just before their case was to be heard in the High Court, Mr Justice Michael Peart heard that an out-of-court settlement had been agreed.
Under the terms of the settlement, the HSE will pay Eileen´s family €50,000 compensation for a wrongful death without an admission of liability. After hearing the circumstances of Eileen´s death and expressing his sympathy for the family, Mr Justice Michael Peart approved the settlement – stating that “this was a very, very tragic case”.