Wednesday 17 January 2018

€1m for widow of man given wrong drug

Doctor was treating food poisoning

Aodhan O'Faolain

THE High Court has approved an award of €1m damages to the family of a father of two who died after a doctor injected him with the wrong medication to treat a bout of suspected food poisoning.

Colm O'Donovan (31), of Gloun North, Dunmanway, Co Cork, suffered a heart attack and died on August 7, 2004, less than two days after developing a gastric complaint.

Arising from his death, his widow Patricia O'Donovan, sued both Dr Johan Dirk van der Meer, with an address in Sasolburg, South Africa, who allegedly treated her husband, and South West Doctors On Call Ltd, trading as South Doc, of St Finan's Hospital, Co Kerry.

It was claimed that Dr van der Meer was an employee of South Doc on August 7, 2004, and that South Doc was vicariously liable for alleged actions of the doctor.

Liability was admitted by Dr van der Meer and the award was against him only. The action against South Doc was struck out.

In a brief statement read to the court, Dr van der Meer expressed his "sincere regret" to Mr O'Donovan's family over the loss of Colm.

The award was approved at the High Court yesterday by Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill.

Liam Reidy SC, for Mrs O'Donovan, said matters had been resolved between the parties. It was agreed that Mrs O'Donovan and her family would receive €1m, plus their legal costs.

In her action, Mrs O'Donovan, who is now living at Drumdowney, Mallow, Co Cork, claimed that Dr van der Meer was negligent in treating her husband with the wrong drug -- Largactyl -- which may have accelerated what was a serious illness.

It was also claimed that Dr van der Meer failed to examine her husband properly; failed to refer him to hospital; failed to identify that he was seriously ill; failed to exercise the required degree of skill expected from a GP and failed to seek a second opinion from a colleague.

The court heard that Mr O'Donovan became ill on August 5, 2004, with suspected food poisoning.

His wife contacted South Doc's out-of-hours service on August 6 and, it was claimed, Mr O'Donovan then attended another doctor and was given an injection of Cyclamorah.

It was claimed that Mr O'Donovan then returned to the family home in Dunmanway but his condition deteriorated. He collapsed when trying to get out of bed and had seizures.

South Doc was contacted again on the night of August 6 and a home visit was requested, it was claimed.

During the early hours of August 7, Dr van der Meer attended the O'Donovan home in Dunmanway and administered another injection.


It was then claimed that the doctor told Mrs O'Donovan that her husband was having a reaction to the first injection and that the second injection would counter that.

It was also alleged that Dr Van der Meer had said Mr O'Donovan would be drowsy but that there was no need to be concerned about the seizures as there would be an improvement in his condition by the following morning.

Instead, Mr O'Donovan's condition worsened and the family GP attended him.

However, Mr O'Donovan suffered a heart attack. CPR was performed but without success.

During the hearing, the court heard that Mr O'Donovan was a determined and hard-working man who was dedicated to his family. His children were aged just two years and six days when he died.

At the time of his death, Mr O'Donovan was a fit and healthy man who had spent very long hours building up what had been a successful welding and metalwork business.

Irish Independent

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