Monday 16 September 2019

'Our mother would be alive today if there was proper handover of care at the hospital'

Hermitage clinic apologises in €300,000 settlement

Melissa Barry, daughter of the late Susan McGee, at the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts
Melissa Barry, daughter of the late Susan McGee, at the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts
Susan McGee. Picture: Courtpix

Tim Healy

The family of a woman who died from sepsis remain convinced she would be alive if there had been a proper handover of care.

The Hermitage Medical Clinic apologised in the High Court for the failures in the care provided to Susan McGee, who developed a rare infection following a hernia operation.

The apology was read out as part of a €300,000 settlement to the family of the 52-year old who died 11 days after the hernia operation.

Solicitor Dermot McNamara, on behalf of the family said: "The McGee family remain convinced Susan would be alive and with them today if there had been a proper handover of her care... The family feel strongly there should be clear failsafe handover protocols in place in every hospital to ensure proper continuity of patient care."

Ms McGee, a mother of two, died on July 24, 2013, having developed clostridium difficile affecting almost her entire bowel. It followed the hernia operation at The Hermitage 11 days earlier.

A verdict of medical misadventure had been returned at the inquest into the death of Ms McGee, from Skerries Road in Rush, Co Dublin.

Her daughter, Melissa Barry, said the death had a catastrophic effect on the family.

"Our mother is missed every day by her entire family and a large circle of friends," she said. "We owed it to our amazing mam to seek answers and justice. We hope she can now rest in peace while we can rebuild the rest of our lives."

She said the apology and admission are welcome - but were five years too late.

She added: "The Hermitage Medical Clinic has reassured us new procedures are in place for the handover of patients and we hope lessons have been learned.

"Patients need to be assured that details of their medical condition and care plan are properly communicated if they are being put in to the hands of a different medical professional."

Ms Barry of Grange Rise, Stamullen, Co Meath and her brother John McGee of Bretton Woods, Skerries Road, Rush, had sued the Hermitage and consultant surgeons Arnold Hill and Colm Power over the circumstances of Ms McGee's care when she attended the clinic in 2013.

It was claimed there was a failure to respond adequately to the deterioration in the condition of Ms McGee when she was readmitted to the Hermitage over the weekend of 19 to 21 July 2013.

It was also claimed her care was delegated to two surgeons without clearly delineating appropriate reporting structures and ensuring one doctor would be in receipt of all relevant information. Liability was admitted in the case.

The apology said the Hermitage, together with Professor Hill and Mr Power, extend their sincerest condolences and apologies and "for the failures in [Ms McGee's} care". It added: "We have put in place additional measures to address the lessons learned from our review of her care."

The court heard Prof Hill went on a planned vacation on July 19 for which there was no criticism. Ms McGee was left in the care of Mr Power and another doctor. However, the third doctor was not available as he was rostered to work in another hospital.

Ms McGee's condition deteriorated and it was claimed she was not seen by a doctor of consultant status at any time between July 19 and the morning of Monday July 22, 2013.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Robert Eagar sympathised with the family.

Irish Independent

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