Friday 14 December 2018

'Compensatory' damages paid to husband of woman who died during surgery for ectopic pregnancy

Alan Thawley with his late wife Malak
Alan Thawley with his late wife Malak

Tim Healy

A man whose wife died during surgery for an ectopic pregnancy at the National Maternity Hospital (NMH), Dublin has settled his High Court action.

Malak Thawley was 34, a teacher and a US citizen who was expecting her first baby with her husband, Alan, when she died at the Holles Street hospital on May 8, 2016.

Alan Thawley’s counsel told the court last week what happened was a “cascade of negligence” and “it was one negligent act after another.” Liam Reidy SC said the doctor who carried out the surgery was an inexperienced junior surgeon and was not supervised.

Counsel told the court how inept the entire process at the hospital was illustrated in the fact that when they decided to cool Mrs Thawley’s brain with ice, two doctors were sent across the road to a pub to get ice as there was none in the hospital.

When the case came back before the court on Tuesday, Mr Justice Anthony Barr was told it was settled and could be struck out.

Mr Reidy said it had been settled for compensatory damages only and aggravated or exemplary damages were not involved.

No other details of the settlement were given to the court.

Final orders will be made in the case next week.

Outside court, Alan Thawley said after a long and difficult process, he had been able to bring these proceedings to a satisfactory conclusion.

"There is no compensation that could replace the profound loss of my wife's untimely and needless death. 

"The proceedings were brought forth to expose the cascade of negligence demonstrated by the hospital.

"I will continue to work with the Health Minister and his ministerial inquiry to ensure that I am the last person in Irish history who has to suffer what I have suffered and continue to suffer, he said.

Mr Thawley (31) Brusna Cottages, Blackrock, Dublin had sued the NMH over the death of his wife, who was originally from Dallas claiming she suffered a laceration to the surface of her aorta and there was complete mismanagement of the major vascular injury.

It was also claimed there was a failure to have vascular clamps available on site at the hospital for emergencies and a failure to have a red phone installed in theatre for use in emergencies.

It was further claimed her life was unacceptable endangered during the operative procedure and her death occurred as a result of the injury inflicted upon her and the complete mismanagement of the injury afterwards.

Mr Thawley had also sued for nervous shock and claims his whole life and happiness with his late wife together with his plans and dreams for their future have been annihilated.

Liability was not at issue in the case was before the court for assessment of damages only.

The NMH apologised in court last week for the events which led to the death of Mrs Thawley.

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