Double amputee sues GP for negligence
A 62-YEAR-OLD woman who had both legs amputated has begun an action for alleged negligence against her GP.
Catherine Blake, of Cashel Court, Cashel, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, claimed in the High Court in Dublin yesterday that her GP, Dr Gerard Sullivan, who diagnosed thrombophlebitis (swelling of a vein caused by a blood clot) in September 2000, allegedly failed to check whether she may have been suffering from deep vein thrombosis.
Ms Blake underwent above- the-knee amputations of both legs on December 20, 2000, at Cork University Hospital.
She alleges Dr Sullivan told her a number of times she was suffering from a pain in her back and allegedly discounted complaints about pains in her legs as being in her imagination.
She also claims that by reason of his alleged failure to deal with her complaints and symptoms, her condition severely deteriorated and she had to undergo a double amputation.
Patrick Keane, for Ms Blake, told Mr Justice John Quirke that proceedings against another defendant in the case -- Dell Computer Products, of Raheen Industrial Estate, Limerick -- had been settled and could be struck out.
The court had earlier heard Ms Blake was involved in an accident at Dell in Limerick on February 5, 1998, while sitting on two crates during a power failure. The crates had fallen and she had struck her head on the floor and had a lot of trouble with her lower back.
Mr Keane said liability had already been decided on in her favour in the Dell case.
Mother-of-four Ms Blake had attended Dr Sullivan on many occasions after the Dell accident as she needed to see him every week. She told the court she was a patient of Dr Sullivan in 1990 and said he always seemed to want to get her out of the surgery as fast as he could.
She said when she had complained about pain in her legs Dr Sullivan told her it was back pain and that the "pain was in her mind".
Ms Blake told the court that after her legs were amputated she was absolutely devastated and in dreadful pain.
"I wasn't sure if I would live or if I would die," she said.
Dr Sullivan denies he failed to adequately advise or treat Ms Blake or make a proper diagnosis in regard to her condition as alleged. He also denies any negligence. The hearing before Mr Justice John Quirke continues today.