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Complex Colon Cancer Medical Negligence Cases Settled by Mediation


Posted in News on Monday, September 28th, 2020

Karen Kearney and her team at Cantillons Solicitors settled two High Court medical negligence cases by means of remote Mediation on the 21st September 2020.  The case had been due to commence in the High Court in Dublin in October and had been estimated to run for six weeks. 

All parties to the Mediation, namely the Mediator, the lawyers for the Plaintiff and Defendants and the Plaintiff, participated remotely through a combination of telephone and video-conference platforms.  In advance of the Mediation, there had been an exchange of Mediation documents between the parties to include the Mediation Agreement, the Books of Pleadings, reports etc.  

The Mediation continued throughout the day and into the evening and culminated in substantial compensation being achieved for the Plaintiff in these two related medical negligence actions. The Plaintiff had suffered life changing physical injuries and significant psychological injuries due to the medical negligence of six Consultant doctors in their care and treatment of him over the course of some twenty-four months.  

In summary, our client was diagnosed with colon cancer for which he underwent chemo-radiotherapy followed by surgery to remove the cancer.  Following the surgery, our client developed an anastomotic leak.  This is a well-recognised complication of the type of surgery our client had undergone.  Indeed, a Manual designed for junior doctors’ mandates that anastomotic leakage should be considered whenever there is an unexplained post-operative deterioration, as there was in our client’s case.  

Unfortunately, the anastomotic was missed clinically and radiologically, on numerous occasions, with devastating consequences for our client.  Because of the leak, he developed an anastomotic stricture and soft tissue mass/fibrosis at the site of the anastomosis.  The recurrence of his cancer was suspected (in error and instead of suspecting the leak, a far more likely complication some six weeks or so post-surgery) and a series of unnecessary and invasive biopsies, scans, balloon dilatations and two attempts at stenting of the stricture was embarked upon.  Our client had 34 hospital admissions, over a two year period.  The second stent was left in place in the bowel above the stricture for approximately one year.  Our client’s expert Radiologist described this failure to have a plan to remove the stent as “severely negligent”.  The stent eroded into the urinary tract resulting in obstructive uropathy, repeated bouts of urosepsis, renal failure and ultimately our client required lifesaving surgery which involved the removal of his bladder and prostate leaving him with a permanent colostomy and urostomy. 

Our client was hugely relieved that his case was settled by means of Mediation, on a private and confidential basis, and without him having to attend trial in the High Court in Dublin.  The money that he has received in compensation will help ensure that he has the care and therapies he needs for the future.  It will also provide some much needed financial security for our client and his young family.   

This case highlights, once again, the urgent need for legislation to be introduced mandating that doctors tell their patients the truth.  Our client suffered life changing injuries at the hands of a number of his treating doctors.  He had placed his trust, and his life, in their hands.  He accepts that mistakes can be made.  However, he finds it very hard to understand why he was stonewalled, repeatedly, when he tried to find out what had happened to him and what had gone wrong.  In desperation, he came to Cantillons Solicitors who set about investigating the matter for him.  He was shocked and appalled to discover the level of errors in his care which became clear from a review of the records and reports from appropriate (world renowned) experts confirming causative negligence.  Our client should not have had to engage lawyers to find out what had gone wrong.  He should not have had to lie awake at night worrying about taking on the might of the Medical Protection Society and the financial implications for him, if his case was unsuccessful. 

Here we are in September 2020 and we are still awaiting the enactment of the Patient Safety Bill which is a Bill proposing to bring in an obligation for mandatory disclosure in respect of certain serious incidents.  According to the House of the Oireachtas website, which was last updated on the 28th July 2020, the Bill is currently before Dáil Eireann, Third Stage (where it was when I last blogged about this Bill in December 2019).  In its present format, it provides that the apology and, indeed the information given to the patient, does not constitute an admission of liability or fault and is not admissible in litigation.  That is not an apology.  That is a fudge, another one.    

Finally, it is worth saying that, yet again, the Court system did work for our client and he did (eventually), after a lengthy legal battle, achieve justice.

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

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

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