Virgin Media anchor settles case over father’s death

Tipperary University Hospital has apologised to Virgin Media news anchor Colette Fitzpatrick and her sister Olivia for the failure that led to the death of their father
Virgin Media anchor settles case over father’s death

Ann O’Loughlin

Tipperary University Hospital has apologised to Virgin Media news anchor Colette Fitzpatrick and her sister Olivia for the failure that led to the death of their father, who was a retired Garda chief superintendent.

The letter of apology was read out in court as the HSE admitted liability in the case and a settlement was reached with the Fitzpatricks after mediation. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

The Fitzpatrick’s counsel Oisin Quinn SC, instructed by Cian O’Carroll solicitors, told the court former Garda chief superintendent Peter Fitzpatrick (87) died on January 31st, 2019.

In the letter of apology from the general manager of Tipperary University Hospital, which was formerly known as South Tipperary General Hospital, it said it “sincerely apologised for our failure to take adequate action or steps or interventions that led to the death of your father Mr Peter Fitzpatrick in our care.”

The letter added: “Moreover, we apologise for causing you and your family unnecessary pain and distress.”

Mental distress

The two sisters, who had sued for mental distress over their father’s death, were in court for the announcement of the settlement. Mr Justice Paul Coffey conveyed his “deepest sympathy” to them and the wider Fitzpatrick family.

Colette Fitzpatrick and her sister, Olivia, of Holycross, Thurles, Co Tipperary, had sued the HSE as a result of their father’s death.

Mr Fitzpatrick (87), who lived at Holycross, Thurles, Co Tipperary, had been admitted to the Tipperary hospital's accident and emergency department on January 24th, 2019, after being referred by his GP with a history of bilious vomiting.

After an X-ray, a diagnosis of obstruction was recorded and a further clinical diagnosis of sepsis was recorded, and intravenous antibiotics were started.

A surgical team concluded Mr Fitzpatrick had an obstruction and treatment for deep vein thrombosis was commenced. Mr Fitzpatrick had a CT scan on January 25th and five days later, it was noted that the diagnosis was of bowel obstruction and that the pensioner was unwell and drowsy.

On January 30th, Mr Fitzpatrick underwent an emergency surgical procedure but he became critically unwell afterwards and he died the next morning.

Failures claimed

It was claimed there was a failure to adequately, competently or properly diagnose or investigate Mr Fitzpatrick’s clinical condition at any time following his admission to hospital on January 24th, 2019 and his avoidable death on January 31st, 2019.

It was further claimed there was a failure to take any or any adequate and necessary steps to follow up on the CT scan of January 25th when Mr Fitzpatrick was clinically diagnosed with bowel obstruction.

There was also, it was claimed, a failure on January 29th, five full days after his admission to hospital, to seek the cause of the assumed bowel obstruction despite concerning clinical events and investigative findings.

Mr Fitzpatrick before his death, it was claimed, was a relatively fit and active man and his daughters said he was a source of great love, affection and joy to them and their families.

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