Sunday 17 December 2017

Hospital adopted 'extraordinary position' woman falsely diagnosed with HIV not entitled to damages, court told

Tim Healy

A HOSPITAL adopted an "extraordinary position" by contending a woman was not entitled to damages after she was told in error she had been tested positive for HIV, the High Court heard.

A lawyer for Michelle Kenny, who has  sued St James's in Dublin for nervous shock, said his client was "considerably irritated" at the approach of the hospital in court and it undermined its admission of liability in the case.


Senior counsel Finbarr Fox said he was amazed at the approach adopted by  St James's that she was not entitled to damages.


"She was expressly told by an employee of the hospital she had contracted HIV, one of the most alarming diseases of our era," he said.


In submissions to Ms Justice Bronagh O'Hanlon yesterday, counsel yesterday asked the judge to take in to account the conduct of the hospital in court when assessing damages.  The judge has reserved her decision.


Ms Kenny (35), from Crumlin in Dublin and who works as a clerical officer at St James's, has told the court of her devastation when she was given a HIV positive test result after her blood test was mixed up with that of another person.


The hospital admitted it had mixed up two blood samples. 


The court heard she has been asked if it was OK to test her for HIV, as part of other tests carried out on her when she went to the hospital feeling unwell after a holiday in Majorca in 2010.


She agreed, believing she did not have anything to worry about.  She subsequently got a phone call from a doctor saying the blood sample she gave had tested positive for HIV.


After a second test was carried out, the hospital told her there had been a mix-up with someone else's sample.


Yesterday, David McGuinness SC, for the hospital, submitted to the court that Ms Kenny did not suffer loss or damage.


She was told quickly after the wrong result that she did not have HIV, he said.


"We are dealing with her fear of HIV. The hospital has  acknowledged the breach of duty but she is not entitled to damages," he said.

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