Tuesday 6 December 2016

€7m for back op that left lawyer with brain injury

Tim Healy

Published 10/11/2016 | 00:00

A lawyer who suffered an acquired brain injury when he failed to regain consciousness after an anaesthetic for a routine back procedure has settled his High Court action for €7.1m. Stock Image
A lawyer who suffered an acquired brain injury when he failed to regain consciousness after an anaesthetic for a routine back procedure has settled his High Court action for €7.1m. Stock Image

A lawyer who suffered an acquired brain injury when he failed to regain consciousness after an anaesthetic for a routine back procedure has settled his High Court action for €7.1m.

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Former barrister and father of two Frank Cowan was 46 years old when he failed to initially regain consciousness and suffered the acquired brain injury.

His legal counsel, Oonagh Mc Crann, said Mr Cowan suffered a catastrophic hypoxic brain injury which arose as a result of negligence in anaesthetic management.

Mr Cowan, from Clonee, Co Meath, through his wife Janette, sued anaesthetist Deirdre Lohan in relation to his anaesthetic management when he underwent a routine back procedure.

Liability was admitted in the case last month.

Ms McCrann said Mr Cowan had been a practising barrister in the Law Library until 2008, and later worked in the regulatory industry.

In 2014, he had been experiencing back pain and went to the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry, Dublin, for elective routine cervical spine surgery.

Counsel said Mr Cowan suffered an acquired brain injury which has affected all aspects of his life.

She said he reacts to his family and smiles at his children but cannot communicate his needs or pain and needs 24-hour care.

Mr Cowan is currently being looked after in a care facility, but it is his family's hope to care for him at home.

Ms McCrann said the €7.1m was a final settlement in the case as Mrs Cowan found the whole litigation process distressing and she and her family wanted to be "done and dusted" with the matter.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross sympathised with the Cowan family on the "terrible tragedy".

After Mr Cowan sustained the injury, friends set up a trust and carried out fundraising to help him and his family fund his long-term medical care.

Meanwhile, a four-year-old girl who is blind in one eye due to a rare genetic condition has settled her High Court action for €1.65m over her diagnosis when she was a baby.

Sienna Boyce also has poor eyesight in her right eye, the court heard.

The settlement was made without admission of liability.

Through her mother Denise Boyce, Dunluce Road, Clontarf, Dublin, Sienna sued Temple Street Children's University Hospital and the HSE as a result of her treatment after she presented at the Dublin hospital in November 2012 covered in blisters and with scaling on the skin.

It is claimed a possible diagnosis of incontinentia pigmenti, a rare genetic condition which can affect the eyes, was raised and, on November 9, 2012, the baby, who was only weeks old, had an eye examination.

It is alleged no abnormality was noted and the baby was not put under anaesthesia, nor were her eyes dilated for the examination.

The baby was given an appointment for three months later.

It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to respond to the concerns of the baby's mother in relation to Sienna's eyes.

There was also an alleged failure to provide proper medical care on November 5, and in particular November 9, when an eye examination was carried out.

It was further alleged there was a failure to detect or suspect in sufficient time the baby's incontinentia pigmenti was likely to have complications in relation to her eyes.

The claims were denied.

Senior Counsel Eugene Gleeson told the court the baby had to have laser surgery. He said she is totally blind in the left eye.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said the settlement was a good one and he wished the child every success for the future.

Irish Independent

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