Friday 23 March 2018

Earlier surgery may have saved mother of six, family claim

Patrick Malone
Patrick Malone

Tim Healy

A mother of six "languished" for days in a hospital before surgery was carried for a bowel problem, a court heard yesterday.

Helen Malone (60) died four days after the surgery was eventually carried out too late, it was claimed in the High Court.

The widower and family of Mrs Malone yesterday began their action for damages as a result of her death at St Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny, eight years ago.

Mrs Malone, Mr Justice Sean Ryan was told, was the nucleus of her family and they were grief-stricken by her sudden death.

"She went in for basic treatment and expired in circumstances so tragic," senior counsel Michael Counihan said.

He said experts for the family contended that had Mrs Malone been operated on earlier, she might have been saved.

Prior to her hospital admission, Mrs Malone, who was also a grandmother, was in excellent health.

Her husband, Patrick Malone (69), and his six adult children are also seeking damages in relation to her death.

Mr Malone, of Green Road, Carlow town, has sued the HSE and consultant George Nessim as a result of her death at St Luke's on January 12, 2006.

It is claimed Mrs Malone suffered bowel perforation and lost her life to systemic sepsis and multi-organ failure. It is claimed her death was caused by the negligence and breach of duty of the defendants. It is further claimed the widower and her six adult children have suffered great mental distress.


Mr Justice Sean Ryan was told that liability had been admitted in the case and it was now before the court for assessment of damages only.

The hospital had, on behalf of all defendants, made a fulsome apology in a letter to the Malone family, the court heard.

Mr Counihan said the Medical Council in 2010 found Mr Nessim had failed in his professional duty to Mrs Malone.

Mr Counihan said part of the case against Mr Nessim was that he did not report Mrs Malone's sudden death to the coroner and as a result no post-mortem examination was carried out.

Earlier, he said Mrs Malone was an emergency admission to St Luke's on December 30, 2005, suffering from cramps and abdominal pains. He said inflammation of the bowel was diagnosed and it was decided to treat it with antibiotics without surgery.

Mr Counihan said this was "the most pointed mistake made" and it was clear from January 1, 2006, that surgery was required. He said Mrs Malone "languished for days" and nobody paid much attention to a CT scan.

An ultrasound scan was carried out and on January 7 by Dr Nessim's locum who realised Mrs Malone's situation was very serious and planned for surgery, but it was postponed because there was no intensive care facility for after the operation, Mr Counihan said.

The family's experts would say even if surgery was carried out on January 6 or 7, Mrs Malone might have been saved but when surgery was carried out on January 8 it was too late and she later went into acute septic shock, he said.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News