Wednesday 21 February 2018

Family's 'long search' over

'Wrong diagnosis' claim against HSE settled for €65,000

Tim Healy

A WOMAN died of cancer after she was allegedly wrongly diagnosed by two hospitals as suffering from depression.

Yesterday, the late Esther Galvin's family settled a High Court action it took against the HSE, over the alleged wrong diagnosis, for €65,000.

The claims were denied and the settlement was made without an admission of liability.

In a statement yesterday, Mrs Galvin's family welcomed what they described as the end of their long search for answers about the events leading up to her death.

Speaking outside the court, her daughter, Desdemona, paid tribute to Mrs Galvin: "It was our mother's birthday yesterday. She was the life and soul of the family and a mother of 10. We miss her deeply."

Mrs Galvin (65), from Horseleap, Moate, Co Westmeath, died in August 2006, almost nine months after she was diagnosed as having lung cancer.

In their action, the family claimed her death was caused by the HSE's negligence.

They sought damages for mental distress over the death and alleged there was delay and failure to properly diagnose her as having cancer.

Mrs Galvin was diagnosed with depression, reflected mainly through anorexia, after she presented to Tullamore Hospital in July 2005 with a poor appetite and had difficulty swallowing, the family claimed.

Later that month, she was referred and admitted to Portlaoise Hospital with marked weight loss, loss of appetite and difficulty in swallowing.

Again, Mrs Galvin was diagnosed as suffering from depression, it was claimed in court.


Mrs Galvin did not receive a thorough clinical physical examination at either hospital, it was claimed in court.

She was re-admitted to Tullamore Hospital in November 2005, by which time she had lost five stone in weight. On that occasion she was given a clinical examination and diagnosed with lung cancer the following December, the court was told.

The court heard that she had undergone chemotherapy.

However, it was alleged that, due to the delay in diagnosing her condition, her ability to tolerate the treatment was compromised and she died of an infection on August 3, 2006.

The settlement for €65,000 plus costs was approved "without hesitation" by Mr Justice John Quirke, who offered his sympathies to the family.

Irish Independent

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