€165,000 for family of woman who had surgery too late
THE family of a woman who died days after an operation was carried out too late has settled a High Court action for €165,000 in damages.
A letter of apology from the HSE was read to the court as part of the settlement in the case of Helen Malone (60) who died at St Luke's General Hospital in Kilkenny eight years ago.
Mrs Malone, of Green Road, Carlow town, had "languished for days" before surgery was carried out for a bowel problem, the court heard. But when it was done it was too late and she died four days later on January 12, 2006.
In a letter sent to her husband Patrick last May and read out in court yesterday, the HSE said, on behalf of the management, clinicians and staff at St Luke's, it apologised "for the hospital's failure in the treatment and care afforded to your wife".
It added: "We acknowledge that the treatment provided to your wife did not meet the standard that could be expected which led to a series of events giving rise to her untimely death."
Mrs Malone's widower, Patrick, told the court the case was never about money and the settlement marked the end of a long legal battle.
"It was devastating she did not get the treatment it is generally accepted she should have got," he told Mr Justice Sean Ryan.
He said it was very disappointing the HSE did not admit liability in 2009, when the Medical Council found on four charges of professional misconduct against the consultant handling the case, George Nessim.
"It dragged on for five more years. Hopefully we can now get on with our lives, " Mr Malone said.
"You never can put a price on somebody so dear. It was never about the money."
He told the judge when the case first came to the Four Courts, the family had spent five days waiting while the case had been put off and postponed, before finally starting last Wednesday.
"It is not an easy road for any family," Mr Malone said.
Noting the settlement, Mr Justice Ryan said Mr Malone's account including the trauma and difficulty of having to hang around for the case to get on was a salutary lesson.
He congratulated the legal sides for settling what was "a difficult, painful and tragic case".
The court heard that the settlement did not include aggravated damages.
Mr Malone had sued the HSE and the consultant Mr Nessim as a result of the death.
It was claimed Mrs Malone suffered bowel perforation and lost her life to systemic sepsis and multi-organ failure.
It was further claimed that as a result of the loss of his wife and their mother the widower and her six adult children suffered great mental distress.