Widow Compensated for Failure to Diagnose Husband’s Meningitis
A woman, whose husband was told that he was constipated when he was infact suffering from meningitis, is going to be compensated for the misdiagnosis, which resulted in her husband’s death.
Philip Morrissey, aged thirty nine from Kilkenny, visited his general practitioner on the 26th May 2010 with symptoms including a high temperature, an earache and a headache. The GP referred him to the Accident and Emergency Department of St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny. His symptoms progressed to include a high pulse rate and light intolerance.
A few hours after his admittance to the hospital, Mr Morrissey was confused and disoriented. Gail, Mr Morrissey’s wife, told medical staff attending her husband of her concerns, but was told that the symptoms her husband were presenting with were because he was constipated. However, the next morning, the patient was found slumped in his bed. He had had a cardiac arrest during the night, triggered by his undiagnosed streptococcal pneumonia meningitis.
Mrs Morrissey sought legal counsel, and proceeded to make a claim for compensation for her husband’s misdiagnosis – which resulted in his death – against the Health Service Executive (HSE). In her claim, Mrs Morrissey stated that her husband was not seen by any medical staff in the hospital since 3:40pm on the day before his cardiac arrest and death. She also alleged that there was a failure on the part of the hospital to properly consider her husband’s symptoms, which lead to the misdiagnosis and failure to treat the streptococcal pneumonia meningitis.
An investigation was launched by the HSE into the circumstances of Mr Morrissey’s death. After this, the HSE admitted liability for the misdiagnosis and the two parties negotiated a settlement of €455,000. However, before the case could be concluded, the case had to be presented in the High Court due to the nature of Mr Morrissey’s death.
Mr Justice Michael Hanna oversaw the proceedings in Dublin’s High Court, where the details of Mr Morrissey’s death were presented. He proceeded to approve the settlement of compensation, adding that it was a “huge tragedy” for the family, and that though no amount of money could compensate for their loss, it was the best that could be offered by the law.