Sunday 17 November 2019

Grandmother (94) awarded €850k over radiation treatment

Charles Henry, son of Bridget Henry, of Ardminane, Killavil, Ballymote, Co Sligo, pictured leaving the Four Courts today after a High Court action.Pic: Collins Courts
Charles Henry, son of Bridget Henry, of Ardminane, Killavil, Ballymote, Co Sligo, pictured leaving the Four Courts today after a High Court action.Pic: Collins Courts
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Tim Healy

A 94-year old woman who was given excessive radiation therapy - seven times more than the prescribed dose - when she attended St Luke's Hospital, Dublin for treatment for a lump on her lip has settled her High Court action for €850,000.

Bridget Henry was living independently and a generally fit woman before she went for the radiation treatment to treat a lump on her lower right lip, her counsel Des O'Neill SC told the High Court.

Counsel said the mother-of-three and grandmother-of-five later had a stroke and is now cognitively impaired and the complex details of the legal action were beyond her. She can no longer live independently, Counsel said.

Bridget Henry, of Ardminane, Killavil, Ballymote, Co Sligo had, through her son Charles Henry, sued the HSE over the provision of an excessive dose of radiation therapy at St Luke's Hospital, Rathgar, Dublin on January 16, 2017.

Mrs Henry, who was born in 1923, was in the summer of 2016 a generally fit and healthy woman for her 93 years and was independent with no cognitive dysfunction. She enjoyed cooking and gardening and did all her housework and shopping and would regularly make meals for her children and grandchildren.

She was referred by her GP to hospital after she got a lump on her right lower lip and after tests, radiotherapy treatment at St Luke's Hospital, Dublin was decided on.

The plan was that Mrs Henry would receive a dose of radiotherapy in five sessions and she attended on January 16, 2017 to get the first dose.

However instead of receiving the 7GY dose she received a dose seven times greater at 49Gy.

As a result of the excessive radiation Mrs Henry's lip and mouth, it was claimed, became extremely ulcerated and painful and she required morphine for pain control.

She was also unable to eat solid foods and she became dehydrated.

In February 2017, it was noted Mrs Henry had become confused and agitated and a CT scan established she had suffered a stroke.

It was claimed on the balance of probabilities the stroke arose as a result of her weakened condition following the radiation overdose.

It was also claimed there was an alleged failure to have the radiotherapy set up overseen and supervised by staff of significant skill and experience and that the wrong size applicator had been used. 

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told liability was admitted in the case.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Cross wished the family well in the future caring for their mother.

In a statement the Henry's solicitor Sinead Travers of Damien Tansey Solicitors said Mrs Henry is now completely dependant and requires around the clock care.

"She suffered life changing injuries. Shortly after the event she suffered a stroke and consequently the independence she cherished with such vigour, enthusiasm and energy is no more," Ms Travers aid.

She added:"  To say that Mrs Henry and her immediate family have been shattered by these events is an understatement".

She said the family are pleased that Mrs Henry's future care needs are provided for.

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