This firm represented Roland Doherty in relation to the very sad death of his wife Susan on 4 July 2020.  Susan was 47 years of age at the time of her death and had suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis.  She had been attending a consultant haematologist in Limerick in the months prior to her death.  She had been commenced on G-CSF injections because she had neutropenia.  Neutropenia occurs when the high blood cells are low and means that you are more at risk of infection.  Susan remained on G-CSF injections until around mid-November 2019 and advised that if she became unwell she would recommence G-CSF injections.  

On 26 June 2020 Susan attended at the Accident and Emergency Dept of University Hospital Limerick with a fever and sore throat.  She was suffering from pharyngitis and was put back on C-CSF.  She remained in hospital and on 2 July 2020 she developed a persistent and severe abdominal pain.  She was also vomiting and was anaemic.  She required repeated doses of opiate pain relief.  

On 3 July 2020 the plan was that she was to have a CT of the pelvis and abdomen at 9:00am that morning.  This was not carried out.  At approximately 6pm on 3 July 2020 Susan was given a treatment dose of Heparin (14,000 units) due to a concern that she may have a pulmonary embolism.  The recorded plan in her medical records was that a chest x-ray and CT of the pelvis and abdomen would be performed.  Approximately one hour later Susan’s blood pressure was noted to be low and there was a discussion with the ICU Registrar regarding an escalation of her care.  The notes record that a call to the Radiology Consultant was made who confirmed that the CT of the pelvis and abdomen would be carried out.  Again, for the third time, no CT was carried out.  Susan became progressively unstable and just after midnight on 4 July she had a cardiac arrest.  

Susan was transferred to the ICU Department at 02:25am on 4 July 2020 and a FAST scan was performed by the ICU Consultant which showed free fluid in her abdomen.  A CT scan was requested by the surgical team prior to transferring Susan to the operating theatre.  The CT scan showed an enlarged spleen with bleeding in the abdominal cavity. 

An emergency laparotomy was performed on the morning of 4 July 2020 which showed a ruptured spleen, and more than 7 litres of blood loss was noted.  

Susan deteriorated following the surgery and was pronounced dead at 12:20 on 4 July 2020.  

We advised the Deceased’s family and represented them during the inquest into Susan Doherty’s death, which resulted in a verdict of medical misadventure.  Crucially 13 recommendations were made by the Coroner regarding a review of care provided at University Hospital Limerick.  These recommendations were made in the hope that this would result in improvements in care at the Hospital so that no other family would experience a similar tragic event in the future.

Civil proceedings were issued in the Hight Court whereby a fatal claim was taken by Susan’s husband against the HSE, claiming negligence on the part of University Hospital Limerick, which caused his wife’s death.  

A significant part of the claim related to care costs which were required in order to look after Susan and her husband’s only child, Charlotte, who was 2 years of age at the time of her mother’s death.  The claim also included a nervous shock claim for Roland Doherty arising from the shocking events surrounding Susan’s death.  In addition, there was a claim for loss of dependency, inquest fees, funeral expenses, counselling fees and other expenses incurred as a result of Susan’s death. 

During the course of the proceedings the HSE admitted liability and confirmed that negligence caused Susan’s death.  

The case proceeded to mediation and was settled for a very significant sum, which included costs for care relating to Susan and Roland’s daughter, Charlotte.  

For further information please contact our specialist medical negligence solicitors on 019123240 or email: