News Courts

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Woman claims doctors failed to diagnose stroke

Tim Healy

Published 17/04/2013 | 17:32

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Marie Carolan
Marie Carolan

A WOMAN is suing over an alleged failure to diagnose that she was having a rare type of stroke which she claims left her with significant cognitive deficiencies and visual impairment.

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Marie Carolan (53), a married mother of two from The Crescent, Johnstown Manor, Johnstown, Co Kildare, has brought a High Court action against the HSE and Naas General Hospital over her treatment at the hospital in July 2005 when attended complaining  of headaches, blurred vision, vertigo and dizziness.

She is also suing consultant radiologist Christine Jennings, of  the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin, over an alleged failure to exercise care in the performance of radiological investigations following an MRI brain scan in Blackrock on August 4, 2005.

The claims are denied and the defendants say the stroke occurred subsequent to the MRI scan.

It is claimed the defendants were negligent  by failure to diagnose in time that she was suffering  from a sagittal sinus thrombosis (SST) a rare type of potentially fatal stroke or blockage of an artery leading to deterioration of the brain cells.

It is also claimed Ms Carolan was discharged from Naas having been told she may be suffering from vertigo or a viral infection and was also advised examinations showed "normal wear and tear" for a woman of her age.

Had the correct investigation and diagnosis  been made, it is claimed,  the damage she suffered, including memory loss, visual disturbances, and poor concentration, would have been avoided.

Ms Carolan had to give up her job as manager/administrator in her husband Patrick's panel beating business and past-times like reading and going for drives to different places because of her diminished concentration.

Opening the case, Seamus Noonan SC, for Ms Carolan, said she first presented to Naas General A&E on July 26, 2005, and while a neurological examination was carried out, an important eye test, called a fundoscopy, which would have shown pressure inside her skull (intercrannial pressure) was not undertaken.

She was kept in overnight and a CT scan was performed the next day which was normal and she was allowed to go home having been diagnosed as suffering from vertigo, counsel said.

The next day, she collapsed  and went back to Naas General where they noted she had blurred vision, was unsteady on her feet, her speech was slurred and she was very drowsy.

Further tests were carried out, including a lumbar puncture to see if she was suffering from a viral infection.  But again, there was a failure, as a part of the lumbar puncture, to perform a critical test which would have shown intercrannial pressure was not normal, counsel said.

Had this test been done, she would have been referred for further neurological guidance or alternatively another type of contrasting MRI brain scan, called an MRA, could have been carried out to shown she had SST, counsel said.

She was brought to Blackrock Clinic a few days later where an ordinary MRI was carried out, which was normal, but the MRA was not done.

She was returned to Naas where, when  she was being discharged the following day, a doctor turned to a colleague and said "what will we   put this down as, a viral infection" and that was what was done, counsel said.

At home, she continued to deteriorate and a few days later got her GP to refer her to St James Hospital in Dublin because she had lost confidence in Naas.

At St James, doctors carried out further tests, including an MRA scan, which showed she was suffering from SST.She remained in James for three weeks.

The case continues before Mr Justice Sean Ryan.

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