The firm’s principal, Emmet Halley, recently settled an action for €500,000.00 against the Health Service Executive on behalf of a client in respect of medical negligence.
In 2011 the client was complaining of prolonged and disabling pain in the lower back and sciatic pains, especially in the right leg.
Her orthopaedic surgeon diagnosed her with a spinal stenosis and he recommend that she undergo spinal surgery (decompression and laminectomy) to relieve her symptoms. She went ahead with the surgery.
Post surgery, she made a very limited recovery with only temporary relief from her symptoms. In fact, she went on to develop further symptoms, particularly with ambulation and balance.
She continued to attend at the orthopaedic department, but without a diagnosis of the cause of her continuing and worsening adverse symptoms.
From early 2013 onwards, she presented repeatedly as an out-patient at the emergency department of a hospital under the auspices of the HSE, complaining of severe pain in the lower back and legs along with other disabling symptoms.
Despite repeated referral to the orthopaedic department, she received no appropriate treatment for these symptoms, and she was repeatedly discharged without any ascertainment of the cause of the said symptoms and signs.
In desperation, in January 2014, she was referred by her family doctor to a consultant neurosurgeon for assessment, with a view to diagnosing the cause of her condition.
Examination by the neurosurgeon revealed spastic paraparesis of both limbs with very little movement of either limb and definite adverse neurological signs of myelopathy. She was admitted to that hospital.
An MRI scan of the thoracic spines was directed. A large intradural, extramedullary tumour at T1/T2 was found. She then underwent surgical operation where the tumour was completely excised. Histology revealed that the tumour was a grade 1 meningioma.
She suffered much distress during this period. The surgical intervention in 2014 improved her symptoms to some degree. She requires care and assistance with everyday selfcare and duties at home. The delay in diagnosis has greatly compromised her prospects for recovery.
It is clear that she should have been referred at an earlier stage for a neurosurgical opinion by the hospital she was attending, which would have greatly helped her prospects of a better outcome.