High Court reporters
The family of a young mother who died of cancer have settled an action against the HSE and three medics for €800,000 over an alleged delay in her diagnosis.
Lauren McDonald, of Mallow, Co Cork, was only 30 years old when she died due to complications relating to her colon cancer in 2009. Ms McDonald has one five-year-old daughter.
In the High Court, the McDonald family counsel, Dr John O'Mahony SC said it was their contention that had her case been properly investigated her cancer would have been discovered.
Counsel said it was a very tragic case, adding that Ms McDonald's colon cancer was not diagnosed until two years after she first presented with symptoms.
Her young daughter, he said, had to watch her mother in dire abdominal distress for over three years after a diagnosis of constipation had been made.
The settlement, which was reached after mediation, is without admission of liability.
Among the claims, the High Court heard Ms McDonald attended her GP's surgery at least six times between May 2005 and 2007 complaining of pain, and was also seen at Mallow General Hospital on a number of occasions.
In August 2007, when Ms McDonald weighed only five and a half stone, she was transferred to the care of another hospital where after a number of procedures she was diagnosed with cancer. Ms McDonald died on January 20th, 2009.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was a very sad and tragic case “where a young mother had died in the prime of her life”. The judge offered his deepest sympathy to her daughter and parents, wishing them all the best for the future.
Ms McDonald's mother, Jennifer McDonald, of Shanballymore, Mallow, Co Cork, had sued the HSE over the care her daughter received at Mallow General Hospital.
She also sued a consultant geriatrician at the hospital, Suzanne Timmons, GP Catherine Kelleher with a practice at Newtwopot House, Doneraile, Mallow, Co Cork, and a doctor who had worked there as a locum, Dr Ann Marie Norton.
It was claimed there was an alleged failure to investigate, diagnose, manage or treat Ms McDonald's medical symptoms and complaints in a timely fashion, adequately or at all.
Against the HSE and Ms Timmons, it was claimed there was an alleged failure to reach a proper diagnosis of Ms McDonald's condition in a timely fashion and the clear symptoms, signs and clinical history that pointed to a likely cancer diagnosis were allegedly disregarded.
There was, it was further claimed, an alleged failure to have any proper regard for or to heed the clinical signs and symptoms which occurred after Ms McDonald presented at Mallow General Hospital.
It was claimed against GP Catherine Kelleher and Locum Dr Ann Marie Norton that there was an alleged failure to take any proper heed on the continuing complaints made by Ms McDonald between May 2005 and August 2006, and an alleged failure to refer her for appropriate specialist investigations, diagnosis, management care and treatment such as was warranted by her symptoms, complaints and condition.
There was, it was further claimed, an alleged unwarranted delay in taking the appropriate steps, depriving Ms McDonald of the opportunity to receive a timely diagnosis and care.
All the claims were denied by all the defendants.