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HSE Found Negligent in Delay to Treat Post-Surgical Bleeding Case

The HSE has been found negligent in a claim for compensation for post-surgical bleeding, after a judge ruled that the delay in the patient receiving care was unreasonable.

Honey Larkin (42) from Letterkenny delivered her child by Caesarean section at the Letterkenny General Hospital in January 2008. Following her operation, she began to haemorrhage internally. In spite of showing signs of distress, her symptoms were overlooked by the hospital´s staff. Honey alleges that she had a “near-death” experience due to losing more than half of her blood volume while haemorrhaging. She had a second operation to stop the bleeding, but it had been delayed for more than an hour when her condition was finally acknowledged by medical staff.

Honey sought legal counsel, and made a claim against consultant gynaecologist Eddie Aboud and the Health Service Executive (HSE). In the action, she said that she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to medical negligence. Honey also stated in her action that neither the staff at the hospital nor her gynaecologist checked for signs of bleeding after the initial surgery, and that – when the cause of her distress was identified – there was a failure to attach due significance to the bleeding or act appropriately within a reasonable timeframe.

Both Mr Aboud and the HSE contested Honey´s claim for compensation for medical negligence after a Caesarean birth. They argued that she was treated appropriately throughout and after the birth of her child. Furthermore, they stated that the staff had acted in a timely manner once her internal bleeding had been recognised. However, Honey persisted with her compensation claim for medical negligence after a Caesarean.

In the High Court hearing, Judge Kevin Cross was told that no internal bleeding had been apparent when Mr Aboud had finished the childbirth procedure. Furthermore, when the gynaecologist was called back to attend to Honey, he performed the operation quickly and successfully to stop the haemorrhaging. Judge Cross said he believed that Mr Aboud could not be held responsible for any of the trauma suffered by Honey and dismissed from the case.

The judge then considered whether the case against the HSE should be dismissed. He considered the evidence in relation to the delay Honey experienced once the haemorrhaging had been identified, and he found that the Letterkenny General Hospital failed in their duty of care towards Honey, and ordered that the HSE pay her €25,000 compensation for medical negligence after her Caesarean operation.

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