'We know this will not bring our mam back,' says family
The family of a woman who died after a charting error resulted in her only getting half her normal dose of an epilepsy drug for 23 days have settled their High Court action over her death for €260,292.
Kathleen Leech (68), a mother of five adult children from Courtown, Co Wexford, died on June 30, 2012 after staff at Peamount Healthcare nursing home, Newcastle, Co Dublin, failed to notice she had only been given her morning dose of Keppra, an anticonvulsant to stabilise her epilepsy. She should also have received a second daily dose. Peamount gave an unreserved apology for failings in care provided to her.
Her widower, Gregory Leech, sued for wrongful death and her children, Noreen, John, and Gregory Leech junior, and Marian Dalton and Kathleen Caulfield, sued for nervous shock. Liability was admitted.
In a letter read out in court yesterday, Peamount gave Mr Leech an unreserved apology.
Barney Quirke SC, for the family, told the court Ms Leech suffered a stroke in November 2011 and never recovered enough to be discharged home from Tallaght Hospital. A place was found for her in Peamount in June 2012.
She was on some 21 medications and unfortunately on the day she arrived at Peamount, the pharmacy was closing and there was a failure to record she required two doses of Keppra. As a result, she was 23 days without her second dose.
She later suffered a serious seizure and was transferred back to Tallaght Hospital but she died on June 30.
Significant changes had been made by Peamount, including in relation to drug charts, to try to avoid this error happening again, counsel said.
Mr Quirke also said Ms Leech was a big personality and the bedrock of the family. Her husband had suffered terribly as a result of her death.
The case was settled for €260,292 and all members of the family had agreed to waive their claim to the statutory €25,000 payment, which will go to their father.
They had come to court not for compensation but to remember their mother and see what good can be done for the future, counsel said.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said he was sorry for the tragic loss of Ms Leech.
In a statement afterwards, family solicitor Mark Tiernan said it was seven years since they lost their mother through negligence.
"We finally achieved what we set out to do and that was to receive a public apology from Peamount Hospital," the statement said. "We know this will not bring our mam back but hopefully it will mean no other family will ever have to go through the suffering and loss we have endured."