A DUNMANWAY man who sued Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) after the death of his wife, following the birth of their first baby, has settled his High Court action for €1.25m.
Anne Casey (38) died 11 days after she first had a cardiac arrest as she was having a lung scan, and her baby was delivered by emergency Caesarean section on the x-ray table.
A review at CUMH after Mrs Casey’s death found she died of a devastating brain injury incurred at the time of the cardiac arrest.
Her husband Dominic Casey (49) from Lettergorman, Dunmanway, told the High Court he was outside the x-ray department as his wife, who had been admitted to the hospital days earlier with breathlessness, went into cardiac arrest. ‘I saw the chaos,’ he told Mr Justice Kevin Cross.
Mr Casey’s barrister, Dr John O’Mahony SC, told the court it was an extremely sad and tragic case.
Mrs Casey, who had a history of cardiac issues and was over 37 weeks’ pregnant, had gone to the hospital complaining of a cough for the previous three weeks and she had become breathless. Dr O’Mahony said she was admitted to the hospital on a Friday but was not seen by a consultant over the weekend.
She was treated for a respiratory infection, but Dr O’Mahoney said they were going down the wrong road and red lights should have been flashing. Mrs Casey, he said, had insulin requiring diabetes and was also overweight.
He said when Mrs Casey went into cardiac arrest as she had a lung scan, as many as 12 doctors were involved in an attempt to save her and deliver her baby.
Mrs Casey regained a pulse and was transferred to ICU but it was later confirmed she had suffered a devastating brain injury. Her condition did not improve over the next nine days and on March 7th, 2012, a decision was made to remove life support and she passed away two days later.
The barrister added: ‘Her son Ben is now nine years of age and has lived his life without his mother.’
A review panel at CUMH identified a number of clinical risk factors in relation to Mrs Casey, including obesity and insulin requiring diabetes.
The review panel found Mrs Casey was obviously and significantly unwell for more than 60 hours following her admission but had not been reviewed by a consultant.
It also found the severity of the patient’s symptoms should have prompted medical referral over the weekend and certainly within 24 hours of her admission to the hospital.
It recommended that patients with complex medical conditions and new symptoms should be reviewed in person by a consultant within 24 hours of admission and sooner if necessary.
It was claimed there was an alleged failure to properly assess, diagnose and treat Mrs Casey when she presented in the emergency department with breathlessness and instead, it was allegedly mistakenly assumed she was suffering from a respiratory infection. It was further alleged the lung scan should not have been performed and instead Mrs Casey should have been transferred to a unit where she could have been intensely monitored and have her cardiac failure treated. The claims were denied.
Dr John O’Mahony told the court that the review at the hospital identified shortcomings but the HSE filed a full defence in the case.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross extended his sincere sympathy to Mr Casey and his son and said it was a particularly harrowing case.