Saturday 18 November 2017

€320k payout as hospital says sorry over death from dehydration

Lydia and Lisa Acton
Lydia and Lisa Acton

Tim Healy

THE family of a man who died in hospital after becoming increasingly dehydrated, even as his wife begged staff to give him water, has said no amount of money will bring him back.

Peter Acton (61) died in Tallaght Hospital in Dublin almost eight years ago. His wife Lydia yesterday settled her High Court negligence action against the hospital and the Health Service Executive for €320,000.

In a statement read to the court, Tallaght Hospital apologised and said it accepted full responsibility for the untimely death of Mr Acton, a painter from St John's Grove, Clondalkin, Dublin.

But the Acton family said that, after all this time, they still did not have answers.

Speaking after the court hearing on behalf of the family, Mr Acton's son-in-law, John Burke, said: "We are very happy with the apology, it is very deep but no amount of money will bring Peter back."

However, he said the family still wanted a State-led investigation into the circumstances of Mr Acton's death.

"No one has been before any disciplinary tribunal. Doctors remain unidentified. Medical records remain 'lost' and many questions remain unanswered. This is wholly wrong and unjust," he said.

Mr Acton, a grandfather, died on October 3, 2005, after he went into renal failure having been deprived of fluids for five hours, despite being diagnosed with dehydration on admission.

An inquest into his death previously heard he became so desperate for water he begged his wife Lydia to take him home because he "did not want to die" in hospital.

The High Court yesterday heard he died of pneumonia, sepsis and organ failure.

Senior counsel for Mrs Action, David Kennedy, said the hospital should have begun aggressive fluid resuscitation and he should have been transferred to intensive care earlier. Had this been done, he probably would have survived.

The Acton family, counsel said, also had issues with what happened after Mr Acton's death and the fact that the death certificate described his death as being due to cancer.

The death was not reported to the Coroner, and the hospital did not do a proper investigation of the death, counsel said.


An inquest, which concluded earlier this week, was only held following a sustained campaign by Mr Acton's family.

In its statement to the court, Tallaght Hospital fully acknowledged Mr Acton's death was due to negligence and in particular the failure to properly address the severity of his condition at the time, combined with the failure to respond to Mr Acton's deteriorating clinical situation after that.

"We wish to inform the court, the Acton family and members of the public, that the hospital has, since 2005, put in place a series of measures and clinical protocols to specifically assess deteriorating patients in order to prevent a recurrence of the circumstances which allowed this incident to occur," it said.

It added: "While there can be no consolation for the loss of a loved one, we wish to apologise sincerely and unequivocally for the sorrow and distress caused to Mr Acton's family over his tragic and unnecessary death."

Irish Independent

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