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Patient caught flesh-eating bug in hospital

A PATIENT who contracted a flesh-eating virus following surgery to repair a hernia has settled his High Court action for damages.

The man, who cannot be identified by order of Mr Justice John Quirke, brought a medical negligence action against Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Galway, arising out of an operation he underwent at the hospital on July 2, 2001.

The court heard he suffered injuries around his lower abdomen, groin and upper thigh as a result of contracting the virus, necrotising faciitis.

It had a catastrophic affect on him, the court was told.

Liability in the case was admitted and it was before Mr Justice Quirke for assessment of damages only. The judge was told yesterday the action was settled. No details were revealed.

The man claimed the hospital failed to diagnose the flesh- eating virus and renal failure. It was also claimed it failed to provide him with antibiotics to prevent the spread of infection prior to surgery, and failed to take his complaints seriously after the operation.


He further claimed the hospital failed to administer appropriate antibiotics when he started showing symptoms consistent with the virus, and failed to replace the empty bag providing intravenous saline/medication.

The man told the court that the morning following the operation he awoke with unbearable pain and he was throwing up. He said nothing was done when he complained to staff.

The following day he underwent a review and was diagnosed as having the flesh-eating bug, as well as renal failure. He underwent an further operation that same day and was returned to intensive care.

He was then transferred to St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin where he underwent two further operations, including one to implant his testes into his thighs. He was fed by gastric tube and underwent dialysis.

He was discharged from hospital in August 2001 and returned to work in January 2002, but due to the injuries was made redundant. He continues to experience pain and has significant scarring. He also suffers from stress and depression as a result of the injuries.