Sunday 15 September 2019

'Incalculable distress and grief' - hospital apologises to family of woman (68) who died two days after being admitted

The late Bridget Tallis Pic: Collins Courts
The late Bridget Tallis Pic: Collins Courts
John Tallis, Son of the late Bridget Tallis Pic: Collins Courts
Some of the family of the late Bridget Tallis pictured speaking to the media outside the Four Courts Pic: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

A hospital has apologised in the High Court to the family of a 68-year old woman who died of a heart attack two days after she was admitted.

Mother-of-eight, Bridget Tallis, had a heart pacemaker inserted six days before she was admitted to St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny three years ago with what was claimed were symptoms of fluid building up in the sac around her heart.

But, the court heard, there was an alleged failure to diagnose perforation of the right ventricle which is a known complication of pacemaker implantation and she died of cardiac arrest on March 27, 2015.

The family's counsel, Patrick Treacy, told Mr Justice Anthony Barr an initial diagnosis of sepsis was made.

Some of the family of the late Bridget Tallis pictured speaking to the media outside the Four Courts Pic: Collins Courts
Some of the family of the late Bridget Tallis pictured speaking to the media outside the Four Courts Pic: Collins Courts

If an echo cardiogram had been performed, the fluid build up - cardiac tamponade - would have been diagnosed and the fluid could have been drained, he said.

If this had occurred on March 25 or 26, it is likely Mrs Tallis, who has 13 grandchildren, would have survived, he said.

The apology was read to the court as part of a €250,000 settlement of an action by the family of Ms Tallis, Lacken Drive, Kilkenny, over the circumstances of her care at the hospital when she was brought to A&E vomiting.

St Luke's  accepted responsibility for the circumstances leading to her death and "sincerely apologised" to the family.

The statement added: "The staff in St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, are truly sorry for the failure to diagnose the true cause of Mrs Tallis’s ill health during the period March 25 to March 27, 2015, and this is deeply regretted by all involved.

"The incalculable distress and grief that has been caused to you and to the members of your respective families by these shortcomings is sincerely regretted by all the persons who were involved in the care of the late Mrs Tallis during these dates."

The hospital said it wished to confirm that steps had been taken in relation to the recommendations of the inquest into her death. They included a review of the Tallis case with input from a cardiologist and a review of access to the hospital wards and emergency incidents due to the delay in access to the ward in this case.

"It is hoped these steps arising from the untimely death of the late Mrs Tallis now serves to significantly reduce the risk of  the tragic circumstances giving rise to her from occurring again," the statement said.

Outside court, her son John Tallis, on behalf of the family, said "a timely and appropriate intervention" would have prevented her death.

The apology and admission of liability was a positive step, he said.

"We  hope the hospital learns from this mistake and implements the findings so that no other family has to endure the suffering  and loss we have had", he said.

John Tallis, Lacken Drive, Kilkenny had sued the HSE, on behalf of all of his family members, over the circumstances of her care in the days before she died.

Ms Tallis underwent implantation of a permanent pacemaker in an operation at a Dublin hospital on March  19, 2015. The procedure was conducted without negligence but Mrs Tallis suffered perforation of the right ventricle which is an acknowledged complication of pacemaker implantation.

It was claimed she developed symptoms of a build up of fluid around the heart because of the perforation and attended A&E at St Luke's on March 25, 2015 and was admitted.

It was claimed her recent history was known from the time she attended A&E but it is alleged St Luke’s failed to diagnose and or investigate the possibility of a perforation of the right ventricle of her heart.

As a result it was alleged her condition remained untreated and she died from cardiac arrest.

The family claimed they have suffered mental distress as a result of her death.

The case was before the court for assessment of damages only.

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