Monday 26 June 2017

Family of grandmother who died after trolley fall gets €51,000 payout

Geraldine Eaton, from Templeogue, Dublin, holds a photograph of her mother Letitia Lawlor, who died after a fall in hospital, outside the Four Courts yesterday Photo: Collins Courts
Geraldine Eaton, from Templeogue, Dublin, holds a photograph of her mother Letitia Lawlor, who died after a fall in hospital, outside the Four Courts yesterday Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

The family of an 82-year-old woman who died days after she fell off a trolley at St Vincent's University Hospital, Elm Park, Dublin, have settled their High Court action over their mother's death.

The settlement includes a payment of €51,000.

Letitia Lawlor died seven days after she hit her head after falling from the trolley in the A&E of St Vincent's Hospital.

It was alleged the fall was not witnessed.

Doireann O'Mahony BL, for the family, said Mrs Lawlor, when taken to the hospital after falling in her nursing home, was known to be at risk of falls.

This was a tragic fatal case and Mrs Lawlor was missed by her family, her son and daughter and four grandchildren, counsel said.

Mrs Lawlor was admitted to St Vincent's in August 2013, was on a trolley overnight and was reviewed by a consultant the next day, counsel said.

It would be contended the side bars on the trolley were lowered so that Mrs Lawlor could have lunch and she later fell from the trolley and suffered lacerations to her head.

She died seven days later, on August 22, 2013.

An autopsy revealed the cause of death was an acute or chronic subdural haematoma secondary to a fall. An inquest later returned a verdict of medical misadventure.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved a settlement of €51,000 in the case.

Mrs Lawlor's daughter, Geraldine Eaton, of Fortrose Park, Templeogue, Dublin, had sued St Vincent's Healthcare Group Ltd as a result of the fall from a trolley in the hospital.

It was claimed Mrs Lawlor had suffered a fall on August 14, 2013, while in a nursing home where she was resident.

She had lacerations to the elbow, lip and nose and was taken to St Vincent's A&E and admitted for observation. It was claimed it was known that Mrs Lawlor suffered from several other falls over some eight weeks prior to the fall of August 14 and was deemed to be at risk of falls.

It was claimed, on August 15, while she remained unattended, Mrs Lawlor suffered an unwitnessed fall from the trolley which, it was alleged, had been left with side bars lowered to allow Mrs Lawlor to eat.

Mrs Lawlor's family suffered significant distress and grief as a result of her untimely death, the court heard.

She had played a central role in the lives of her daughter, son and grandchildren.

Outside court, Ms Eaton said they missed their devoted mother and grandmother very much.

"We hope that what happened to her does not happen in any other hospital," she said. "Nothing can bring her back."

Irish Independent

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