€110,000 settlement over farmer's death in hospital

Stock photo
Stock photo

Tim Healy

Cork University Hospital (CUH) has apologised to the family of a 58-year old farmer who died more than two days after his admission with severe chest pain.

If farmer Philip Leahy's exact heart condition had been picked up on,he could have been operated on and would have had an 80pc chance of survival, the court was told.

A letter of apology from CUH was read out in court as the wife and sons of Mr Leahy settled their action against the HSE for €110,000.

Hospital CEO, Tony Mc Namara, in the letter, offered sympathy to the family from Cork.

"In addition I would like to offer our  most sincere apologies to you and your family for the loss, pain, and suffering caused  following your late husband's admission to CUH in April 2014," it said. 

It added: "We are very sorry that your husband's condition was not diagnosed earlier.

"I do not underestimate how traumatic this has been for you and your family but I can assure you that lessons have been learned and acted upon with the ultimate aim of ensuring the safety of our patients at all times."

Dr John O Mahony SC, for the family, told the court that Mr Leahy, who was also a local election candidate for Fine Gael in 2014, had gone to the hospital with chest pain. 

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Counsel said a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome was made but, unfortunately, it turned out that Mr Leahy had a  dissection aneurysm of the thoracic aorta and he died two days later.

Counsel said experts on the Leahy side would have said there was ample time to diagnose this heart condition and if it had been picked up on.

Mr Leahy could have been operated on and would have had an 80pc chance of survival, he said.

Counsel also said the family has since suffered another tragedy when one of  Mr Leahy's three sons, Philip Jnr, died in a in the US.

Mr Leahy jnr, a student, died four days after getting into difficulties while swimming at Ocean City in Maryland in August 2017.

Ann Leahy, Castleblagh, Ballyhoolely, Co Cork, had sued the HSE over the circumstances of her husband's care at CUH after he was admitted on April 3, 2014.

A diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome was made  and Mr Leahy was given medication. A chest X ray carried out on April 4 and it is claimed reported on four days later showed an enlarged heart. 

Mr Leahy also had a coronary angiogram and an echo cardiogram which showed fluid around the heart. This finding, it was claimed, is a classical finding in aortic dissection.

On April 5, 2014, Mr Leahy was complaining of mild chest pain  and he had further tests. On April 6, he was about to be moved to another ward,  but as he went out to the toilet he collapsed  with cardiac arrest and died over half an hour later.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the settlement.

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