Saturday 16 December 2017

Family gets €110,000 after mum killed by sedatives overdose

William Duggan
William Duggan

Tim Healy

THE family of a woman who died in hospital after she was allegedly prescribed inappropriate doses of sedatives have settled their High Court action for damages for €110,000.

Margaret Duggan's widower, William, told the court how his 63-year-old wife, who had multiple sclerosis, was "in good form" and did not have a life-threatening complaint when admitted to St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin, but was dead eight days later.

"My wife was treated way below the standard. It will stay with me for the rest of my days," Mr Duggan told Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

The judge said the hospital had accepted responsibility in the case, where it was alleged inappropriate doses of sedatives had been administered.

The hospital accepted that, but for the negligence, Mrs Duggan would not have died.

Approving the €110,000 settlement, the judge told Mr Duggan: "It must have been very traumatic to arrive in the hospital after her death. I hope as the years go by the loss lessens."

Mr Duggan (right), of Screen, Co Wexford, had sued St Vincent's as a result of his wife's death after she was admitted with abdominal pain on December 11, 2009.


During her stay, she became upset and agitated and it was claimed she was repeatedly prescribed inappropriate doses of sedatives by unknown members of staff. As a result, it was alleged she developed aspiration pneumonia.

When a marked deterioration in Mrs Duggan's condition was noted by senior medical staff, it was claimed, there was a delay before she was given intensive care and she went into cardiac arrest.

It was claimed that on December 19, Mr Duggan went to his wife's bed which had been curtained off. Not sure of her state of health, he and his daughter went looking for assistance and were met by a nurse who told them she had died.

It was claimed that Mr Duggan suffered severe shock, which was compounded by the lack of any rational explanation and by the hospital's immediate request that he consent to a post-mortem.

It was claimed that Mr Duggan finds it impossible to come to terms with what happened.

Michael Counihan SC said the hospital accepted liability and an offer of €110,000 had been made to Mr Duggan and his three adult children.

Counsel said that after Mrs Duggan's death a review of procedures had been carried out at St Vincent's.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

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

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News