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Woman settles cases over incorrectly reported cervical smear test

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A woman whose cervical smear test was incorrectly reported as negative and who got cancer three years later and had to have a hysterectomy has settled her High Court action.

A cytopathologist had earlier this month apologised in court to the 39-year-old woman, who cannot be identified. She currently does not have cancer but has reviews every three months, the court heard.

She had sued the HSE, Medlab Pathology Ltd and the cytopathologist, Dr Colin Clelland of Haddington, Oxford, England who examined her smear slide taken on April 22nd, 2013 under the Cervical Check screening programme.

In court this week, Dr John O’Mahony SC, for the woman, said the case, which had been at hearing for several days, had been settled.

Counsel said the proceedings against the HSE and MedLab Pathology could be struck out and the settlement was against Dr Clelland. No details of the settlement were provided.

In his apology earlier this month, Dr Clelland conveyed his “sincere and heartfelt apologies” in relation “to an incorrect interpretation” of the woman’s 2013 smear that “caused a delay in the detection of your cancer and for the resulting trauma that you have suffered.”

Adversely affected
He said: “I recognise also your fertility has been adversely affected along with the physical effects of the surgery and the emotional consequences of a cancer diagnosis.”

Dr Clelland also offered deepest sympathy to the woman and wished her well for the future.

At the opening of the case, Dr O’Mahony said the woman had a cervical smear test in 2013. He said there should have been “flashing red lights” but the result came back negative. Three years later, she was diagnosed with cancer and had to have a hysterectomy. It was claimed, had it not been for the misreporting of the April 2013 smear, she would not have had to have a hysterectomy and would have conserved her fertility.

“Her intention was to have a family, she is family-focused. It was her desire to have children. She looked forward to being a mother, she is saddened by this,” Dr O’Mahony said.

Were it not for the misreporting of the 2013 smear, she “would not have lost out as badly as she did”, he said. The woman does not currently have cancer but she is “”not out of the woods” and has reviews every three months, he said.

She has also been left with a chronic condition which causes swelling in her body, he added.

Liability was conceded in the case and it was before the court for assessment of damages only.

irishtimes.com

Rape victim anonymity comes under spotlight after court ruling

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Last May the Central Criminal Court handed down a seven-year prison sentence to a man who had turned the life of a Wicklow schoolgirl into a living nightmare. Sentencing the 49-year-old man, Justice Michael White said it was the cause of some embarrassment to the court that it had taken so many trials for her to get justice.

It had taken three trials and a trip to the Supreme Court before a jury was allowed to reach a verdict. Last March it found him guilty of repeatedly raping and molesting the then nine-year-old child in the late 1980s.

At a sentence hearing last May, the rape survivor told the court of how the abuse had affected every aspect of her life. She explained that when a garda detective who was investigating allegations around her abuser contacted her in 2013, she had to think long and hard about “going back” there.

She said she always wished she had done something about bringing her abuser to justice. What she did not realise in May was that her six-year fight to have her abuser face justice still had one hurdle to cross.

That afternoon she telephoned this journalist to check that the press would be publishing the name of her rapist. Her main motive in taking the case was to identify him to help any other child victims and protect future potential targets.

What followed that phone call shines a dim light on the approach the DPP and the judiciary have increasingly taken to the role of the press in reporting on these types of cases.

The woman was in court when Justice White continued an order made during the trial preventing the publication of the identity of the man because of his connection to the victim. At the request of the DPP he ordered that neither the identity of the man or his victim can be published.

The woman has told this reporter that she was not consulted about her wishes and did not realise how this order would affect her.

Court order
The court order meant that when the woman contacted the press indicating she wanted to waive her anonymity so her abuser could be identified, the press could not report the case according to her wishes. To do so would be in breach of a court order.

The press notified the court, and was informed that the DPP would need to bring the matter back to court.

In fact the judge’s gagging order was completely unnecessary, both in this case and many other cases where the DPP and courts have sought to tell the press what they can publish. There are already very strong laws, set down by the Oireachtas, which restrict reporting and protect victims as well as men accused of rape but not convicted.

The late and often controversial Justice Paul Carney was known to dismiss lawyers who raised concerns about reportage of sexual offending with a confident assertion that the media knew its responsibilities and knew what it would face if it got it wrong.

At the case’s next hearing the man’s lawyers made the argument that there was no legal basis for any rape victim to waive their anonymity, which seemed to take the court by surprise.

As it turned out Justice White ruled on Thursday the defence had no case, and its interpretation of the law was incorrect.

That means this judgment will not have any adverse effects on sexual assault victims who wish to waive anonymity in order to name their abusers. However, the judge called for the DPP to clarify the victim’s wishes before they leave the court room in any future case.

In the main, prosecution lawyers in such cases are usually extremely helpful to the press in clarifying the victim’s wishes in court. It just didn’t happen in this case.

Procedural decision
Justice White said that because the request in this case to roll back his gagging order came a week after the sentencing had concluded the court has no jurisdiction anymore in the matter. He described this as a “procedural decision”.

Yet some legal sources have said his decision could be open to challenge, and it is possible that the DPP may seek to appeal this ruling. One senior barrister said that the request was ancillary to the sentence, and therefore it could arguably be open to variance and that other judges might take this view.

There is no doubt that senior staff at the DPP will be taking a long hard read of the decision.

irishtimes.com

Boy (2) who cut eye off sharp object on pharmacy shelf awarded €22k

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Boy (2) who cut eye off sharp object on pharmacy shelf awarded €22k

A two-year-old child who cut his right eye off a sharp object on a shelf in a Co Dublin pharmacy has been awarded damages of €22,000 in the Circuit Civil Court.

Judge John O’ Connor heard that Ross Pickering of Merrion Park, South Hill Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin, had been shopping in Bradley’s Chemist with his mother on 14th July, 2014, when the accident occurred.

Barrister Samantha Cruess- Callaghan, counsel for Ross, who sued through his mother Marie-Claire Greenan, said the child had bent down to pick something up off the floor and that when he had stood up he caught the underside of his right eye on a sharp item located on a La Roche Posay display shelf.

Ms Cruess-Callaghan, who appeared with Coleman Legal Partners Solicitors, told the court that following the incident, Ross had been taken to the Emergency Department of Crumlin Hospital and had been seen by the doctor on duty.

She said it had been noted that Ross, who sued Siofra Limited and L’oreal (Uk) Limited trading as La Roche Posay, had a laceration to his right upper eyelid measuring approximately three centimetres. Counsel said the wound had been superficial and that it had been cleaned using an anti-septic technique.

The court heard from Ms Cruess-Callaghan that the child had been reviewed two weeks later when his steri-strips had been removed. She said there had been no bleeding or signs of infection to Ross’s injury.

Counsel said Ross’s wound had healed well. She said the child’s mother had been informed that if there had been any concerns nine months post-accident, then Ross could seek advice from a plastic surgeon.

Ms Cruess-Callaghan told the court the child had been reviewed by a Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon one year after the accident in July, 2015.

She said the surgeon had noted that Ross had a scar measuring 1cm by 3mm above his right eye. The surgeon had said the scar had been slightly red in colour and visible from a conversational distance.

His opinion had been that the scar had still been immature and would continue to heal in the next 18 months when it would become white in colour.

Counsel told the court that the surgeon had been correct in his opinion and that the scar had become less visible overtime and that it is now barely visible.

She said it was her opinion that €22,000 represented the value of Ross’s case before recommending it to the court.

Judge O’ Connor approved the offer from Siofra Limited and L’oreal (Uk) Limited trading as La Roche Posay (third party).

Irish Independent

Girl (10) who suffered fracture when radiator fell on her foot awarded €56k

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Girl (10) who suffered fracture when radiator fell on her foot awarded €56k

A 10-year-old girl, who suffered a fracture to her left foot when a heavy radiator fell off the wall in her school, has been awarded just over €56,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.

Barrister Eileen McAuley, counsel for Keira Kuts, of Carlough Road, Cabra, Dublin 7, told Judge John O’Connor the accident had happened in October 2016 when the girl was only seven.

Ms McAuley, who appeared with Synnott Lawline Solicitors, for Keira said she had been with her class in the library of St Catherine’s Senior School, Cabra, when the heavy iron radiator had come away from the wall and struck Keira on the foot.

Counsel said Keira, who sued through her father Roman Kuts, had been immediately taken by car to the accident and emergency department of Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

Her foot had been x-rayed and it had been found that a metatarsal bone in her foot had been fractured.

She had been put in a cast for four weeks and then had to use a boot for another four weeks. Her foot had been found to be entirely normal when reviewed last year.

Ms McAuley said the fracture had fully healed and doctors were entirely satisfied there would be no long term effects.

Judge O’Connor approved a settlement offer of €55,000 together with €1,168 special damages.

Irish Independent

Surgeon tells court injuries in low-impact crashes are a ‘social disease’

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Surgeon tells court injuries in low-impact crashes are a ‘social disease’

A consultant orthopaedic surgeon has said people involved in low-impact accidents expected to have an injury whether they had one or not.

Garry Fenelon told the Circuit Civil Court yesterday that in his view such “injuries” had become a social disease.

Mr Fenelon was giving evidence in a case involving young Peamount soccer star Lauren Keeler.

In awarding the 20-year-old €11,350 damages for back and neck injuries, Judge John O’Connor said he did not believe her injuries were still ongoing following the January 2016 accident when she was a sixth-year student.

He heard she was an up-and-coming and promising young footballer and had seen a video of her scoring a goal for her team shortly after the accident.

He was told she had undergone physiotherapy both before and after the match in which she had scored.

Judge O’Connor told Ms Keeler’s barrister, Mark J Byrne, that although the incident had been a very low-impact one, he was satisfied an accident had occurred and that Ms Keeler had been injured.

The court had been told that Ms Keeler, of Cleggan Avenue, Ballyfermot, Dublin, had been a front-seat passenger in her mother’s car on January 22, 2016, when it was rear-ended at Station Road, Clondalkin, Dublin.

Ms Keeler, who claimed her football training and playing had been put on hold for a period after the accident, had sued Axa-insured Mark Sheridan, the owner of the car that had rear-ended her.

She had undergone an MRI scan of her lumbar spine, which had proved normal, and had afterwards been treated by way of a lumbar spinal rehabilitation therapy programme comprised of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.

Judge O’Connor refused an application by counsel for Axa to dismiss Ms Keeler’s claim should the court consider that she had given false evidence.

The judge said he did not believe Ms Keeler had given false evidence to the court.

During the hearing, Mr Fenelon, who had been called by Axa to give evidence, said Ms Keeler had suffered a soft-tissue strain to her lower back in January 2016.

He said it was difficult to account for her claim that she still had ongoing symptoms almost three years after the accident.

Whatever ongoing complaints she might have were not in his view related to the 2016 road traffic accident, the court heard.

He said people involved in low-impact accidents expected to have an injury whether they had or had not. In his view, such “injuries” had become a social disease.

Irish Independent

Woman (54) awarded €192k after being hit by bus wing mirror as she crossed the road

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A woman who was injured when she was hit by the wing mirror of a minibus as she crossed a road has been awarded over €192,000 by the High Court.

Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon said there had been “a stark transformation” in Aideen O’Kelly’s working and social life since the accident and the 54-year old woman’s life is now “vastly different.”

Ms O’Kelly (54), she said was an expert sailor which she enjoyed at a very high competitive level three to four days a week during the sailing season, but cannot sail anymore.

The judge said the woman had said she was significantly involved in sailing and racing and had sailed in national championships before the accident but after the accident she could not balance properly on a boat.

independent.ie for full story

Hospital apologises after teenager dies from huge blood loss in routine surgery

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A hospital has apologised to the family of a teenager who died after suffering massive blood loss following an injury to her aorta during routine surgery.

Jessica Sheedy (18), from Bruff, Co Limerick, died on May 11, 2018, three days after undergoing the operation to have a benign tumour removed from her abdomen.

An inquest into her death heard that, during the surgery, which was carried out at University Hospital Limerick, she suffered a “significant bleed” and lost seven litres of blood.

A post-mortem examination gave her cause of death as “multi-organ failure secondary to the removal of the tumour”.

Several theatre staff who were assisting Ms Sheedy’s surgeon, Mr Ashish Lal, told how, following the bleed, he refused to act on their repeated calls to seek assistance from vascular consultant surgeons.

Theatre nurse Catherine Browne said she “witnessed a huge gush of blood” “filling up” Ms Sheedy’s abdomen.

She claimed Mr Lal “refused” offers from her to get other surgeons to help him.

Theatre nurse Elaine Lyons said she also asked Mr Lal if he needed help, but “he said no”.

She said she telephoned on-call consultant vascular surgeon Eamon Kavanagh, and told him “we are in trouble in Theatre Six, Mr Lal is refusing help”.

“Mr Lal said he didn’t want any help,” she told the inquest before returning to her seat where she broke down in tears.

Dr Eoin Fahey, who also assisted Mr Lal, said there was “a sudden rush of arterial blood” during the operation, and Ms Sheedy’s blood pressure “dropped rapidly”.

Junior registrar Dr Helen Earley said she also asked Mr Lal “if he needed help, and he said no”.

She added that, if she had been performing the surgery, her “response would have been to call for help from another vascular surgeon, but I was just a junior trainee”.

Mr Kavanagh said “a major transfusion protocol was activated” which involved the team contacting the bloodbank for extra blood. This happened 20 minutes after the “significant bleed”.

About 40 minutes after the bleed, Mr Kavanagh arrived and repaired the aorta.

He said he was “very surprised” to get a call from Ms Lyons, as he “had no prior knowledge” of the surgery.

He agreed it was “usual” that he would have been consulted prior to similar surgeries, and that it would have been usual that vascular surgical support would be arranged to be on standby.

Before reading his deposition into evidence, Mr Lal offered his “deepest sympathy and condolences” to the Sheedy family.

“Not a day has gone by in the last 18 months that I haven’t thought about Jessica,” he said.

Mr Lal said he “could not see where the blood was coming from” and he had concentrated his efforts on removing the tumour, as he felt it was “obscuring” his view of the location of the bleed.

“I think, in hindsight, I would have had a second surgeon scrubbed in surgery,” Mr Lal said.

He also agreed that, in hindsight, he would have “immediately called in” help.

Noreen Spillane, acting chief executive of UL Hospitals Group, apologised “unreservedly for the sorrow and distress caused to Jessica’s family over her untimely death”.

Recording a verdict of medical misadventure, Coroner John McNamara said there had been “missed opportunities” in the teenager’s care.

Irish Independent

Brain-damaged boy (14) agrees record €23m payout with health service

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Brain-damaged boy (14) agrees record €23m payout with health service

A 14-year-old boy who allegedly suffered brain damage at birth in a Cork hospital has settled his action against the HSE with a final once-off payment of €20m.

It brings to a record €23m the total paid to Lee Gibson, of Carrigaline, Co Cork, who has cerebral palsy, cannot talk and has to use a wheelchair.

The settlement against the HSE is the largest so far in the State for this type of action.

Approving the final figure, President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly paid tribute to the teenager’s mother, Aileen Gibson.

“Lee makes the best of a life that is possible because of the care of his mother, grandmother and other family support,” he said.

Four years ago, an interim settlement payment of €2m was approved for Lee and in 2017 a further interim payment of €1m was made. On those occasions, liability was also settled in the case.

Speaking outside court, Ms Gibson said that the day was “bittersweet”.

Irish Independent

Irish Aviation Authority to pay ‘substantial damages’ to Aer Lingus pilot it defamed in series of emails

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Irish Aviation Authority to pay ‘substantial damages’ to Aer Lingus pilot it defamed in series of emails

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has apologised in the High Court to an Aer Lingus pilot it defamed in emails the authority sent to organisations including the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority.

The IAA has accepted that the statements circulated were “false and defamatory”.

The defamatory emails emerged from communications sent by the Civil Aviation Authority about an incident involving Padraig Higgins when he was flying a microlight aircraft in the UK.

“In 2013, the Irish Aviation Authority published several statements internally and to external agencies which contained false and defamatory statements concerning Captain Higgins,” noted the apology, which was read out in court today after a jury was sworn in this week to assess damages in the case.

“The IAA accepts that these statements were unsubstantiated and caused Captain Higgins upset and reputational damage,” it added.

The apology continued: “The IAA acknowledges that Captain Higgins is a person of high personal and professional integrity and did nothing to warrant this unwanted attention. The IAA acknowledges Captain Higgins’ role in contributing to improvements in air safety.”

The IAA formally retracted all the defamatory statements and said it apologised “unreservedly” for them. It also said it “regrets the length of time it took to reach a resolution”.

The authority has agreed to pay Mr Higgins “substantial damages”.

The amount will be determined by the jury.

The apology read out in court will be circulated to 13 individuals as well as the Commissioner for the Garda Síochána, and the chairman of the Revenue Commissioners.

Mr Higgins had originally accepted an offer of amends from the IAA under the 2009 defamation act, but the parties were unable to subsequently agree the terms of the offer.

If an offer of amends is refused, the matter can then be referred to the High Court for resolution.

The offer of amends by the IAA had included the intention by the authority to publish a correction and apology, and to pay damages and costs as might be determined or agreed.

With the two sides unable to agree to terms, Mr Higgins then requested that a High Court jury assess the amount of damages he was entitled to.

The IAA opposed that move.

However, the High Court ruled in 2016 that Mr Higgins was entitled to have a jury determine how much he should receive in damages.

The IAA appealed that to the Court of Appeal, which upheld the High Court’s ruling.

The IAA then brought the matter to the Supreme Court which ultimately said the jury should decide.

Irish Independent

Hospital apologises after teenager dies from huge blood loss in routine surgery

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Hospital apologises after teenager dies from huge blood loss in routine surgery

A hospital has apologised to the family of a teenager who died after suffering massive blood loss following an injury to her aorta during routine surgery.

Jessica Sheedy (18), from Bruff, Co Limerick, died on May 11, 2018, three days after undergoing the operation to have a benign tumour removed from her abdomen.

An inquest into her death heard that, during the surgery, which was carried out at University Hospital Limerick, she suffered a “significant bleed” and lost seven litres of blood.

A post-mortem examination gave her cause of death as “multi-organ failure secondary to the removal of the tumour”.

Several theatre staff who were assisting Ms Sheedy’s surgeon, Mr Ashish Lal, told how, following the bleed, he refused to act on their repeated calls to seek assistance from vascular consultant surgeons.

Theatre nurse Catherine Browne said she “witnessed a huge gush of blood” “filling up” Ms Sheedy’s abdomen.

She claimed Mr Lal “refused” offers from her to get other surgeons to help him.

Theatre nurse Elaine Lyons said she also asked Mr Lal if he needed help, but “he said no”.

She said she telephoned on-call consultant vascular surgeon Eamon Kavanagh, and told him “we are in trouble in Theatre Six, Mr Lal is refusing help”.

“Mr Lal said he didn’t want any help,” she told the inquest before returning to her seat where she broke down in tears.

Dr Eoin Fahey, who also assisted Mr Lal, said there was “a sudden rush of arterial blood” during the operation, and Ms Sheedy’s blood pressure “dropped rapidly”.

Junior registrar Dr Helen Earley said she also asked Mr Lal “if he needed help, and he said no”.

She added that, if she had been performing the surgery, her “response would have been to call for help from another vascular surgeon, but I was just a junior trainee”.

Mr Kavanagh said “a major transfusion protocol was activated” which involved the team contacting the bloodbank for extra blood. This happened 20 minutes after the “significant bleed”.

About 40 minutes after the bleed, Mr Kavanagh arrived and repaired the aorta.

He said he was “very surprised” to get a call from Ms Lyons, as he “had no prior knowledge” of the surgery.

He agreed it was “usual” that he would have been consulted prior to similar surgeries, and that it would have been usual that vascular surgical support would be arranged to be on standby.

Before reading his deposition into evidence, Mr Lal offered his “deepest sympathy and condolences” to the Sheedy family.

“Not a day has gone by in the last 18 months that I haven’t thought about Jessica,” he said.

Mr Lal said he “could not see where the blood was coming from” and he had concentrated his efforts on removing the tumour, as he felt it was “obscuring” his view of the location of the bleed.

“I think, in hindsight, I would have had a second surgeon scrubbed in surgery,” Mr Lal said.

He also agreed that, in hindsight, he would have “immediately called in” help.

Noreen Spillane, acting chief executive of UL Hospitals Group, apologised “unreservedly for the sorrow and distress caused to Jessica’s family over her untimely death”.

Recording a verdict of medical misadventure, Coroner John McNamara said there had been “missed opportunities” in the teenager’s care.

Irish Independent