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Adrienne Cullen RIP

Posted in [Blog Medical Negligence ] on Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

It was with great sadness that I read of the death of Adrienne Cullen who died on New Year’s Eve. It is poignant indeed that she died on the last day of the year that brought “open disclosure” into the public domain on foot of the Cervical Check debacle.

If you haven’t already read her great article on the subject in the Irish Times on December 11 last year, you can read it here.

Adrienne, like Vicky Phelan, was a passionate advocate for victims of medical negligence and led a sustained and powerful campaign for open disclosure after medical error.

I first read her story in the Irish Times in an article by Ben Coates.

I can recall marvelling at her bravery and fortitude in telling her story to a lecture theatre packed with 300 people at the very hospital where her diagnosis of cervical cancer had been “mislaid” for 2 years.

As Ben Coates puts it, the presence of Adrienne in public together with the doctors who were responsible for the error was “revolutionary”.

This was the first time anywhere in the world- certainly to my knowledge- that a patient seriously harmed by a medical error appeared in public together with the doctors to jointly talk about what went wrong and the terrible effect it had on all three of them.

Four days after this powerful story was published, Vicky Phelan’s story broke and exposed the public to something medical negligence lawyers have been endeavouring to highlight for years – the scandal that, in Ireland, there is no statutory obligation on treating health practitioners to tell the patients the truth when mistakes are made. That remains the case to date.

It is a terrible shame that Adrienne didn’t live to see the publication of her book Deny, Dismiss, Dehumanise: What Happened When I went to Hospital, due out in the coming weeks.

I urge everyone to get a copy. I have no doubt it will be a powerful and inspirational read.

Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at +353 (0)21 -4275673 or if you would like more information.

* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement.

Karen Kearney



In her twenty years as a practising solicitor, Karen has worked with a number of leading law firms in Limerick and Cork where she has acquired extensive experience in all areas of the law, with a particular expertise in medical negligence cases.

Karen has represented clients effectively in many forums including the District Court, Circuit Court, High Court, Employment Tribunals and Coroner’s Court. She has acted for, and advised, State Bodies in respect of all areas of the law to include childcare law; employment issues; food safety and health and safety issues.

Karen joined Cantillons Solicitors in November 2009 and works in the Medical Negligence Department practising clinical negligence litigation.  She is expertly assisted by Patricia Sisk and April Wiseman, Legal Assistants.

She is very proud to be a member of the medical negligence team which  has been involved in precedent-setting  cases since 1980 and which received the inaugural award of Litigation Team of the Year, National Irish Bank Law Awards in 2012.

Karen regularly attends international conferences in order to add to  her pool of her experts and ensure access to the world’s best. She is also regularly asked to speak at national and international conferences concerning medico-legal issues. She is a regular speaker at the annual Medical Law Conference; giving presentations on healthcare law, practice and procedure to employees in the healthcare section and fellow lawyers. This lecturing experience means that Karen has an excellent grasp of law in theory as well as in practice.

Karen has featured on national television and on local and national radio  in relation to this specialised area of medical negligence litigation.She has been commissioned to write opinion pieces on topical issues in the medical negligence area, published in national newspapers. Notably, she first highlighted in the Irish Examiner, the Minister for Health’s failure to introduce a statutory Duty of Candour-  a legal requirement for medical staff, nurses and management to tell patients and their families if a mistake has been made which adversely affects the patient’s health – despite the Minister’s promise to do so.

Karen also writes a weekly column in a local daily newspaper, the Evening Echo, addressing reader’s legal queries. This column  appears in Monday’s edition of the paper.

Karen has developed real expertise in her field and has shown great dedication in pursuing complex injury cases to settlement.

Karen gets referrals from patients nationwide. She represents her patients with determination and compassion.


  • BCL Honours 1992
  • Admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in Michaelmas 1996


  • Former Secretary of Limerick Bar Association
  • Former member of the Litigation Committee of the Law Society of Ireland
  • Member of the Medical Injuries Alliance
  • Member of Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA)

Related Solicitors

Karen Kearney


Ernest J. Cantillon

Managing Partner

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