Woman sues over heart attack death of husband
St Vincent’s hospital, Dublin. The case relates to the management of James O’Driscoll in St Vincent’s hospital and the circumstances of his discharge
A woman has told the High Court her husband had a heart attack and died 36 hours after being discharged from a Dublin hospital with a diagnosis of a trapped nerve for his pain.
James O’Driscoll SC (68) was a well-known member of the Munster bar when he died in 2009. His widow Marion has sued St Vincent’s Health Care Group Ltd, trading as St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, arising from the loss of her husband.
In evidence yesterday, Ms O’Driscoll, Orwell Road, Rathgar, Dublin, said she still has flashbacks of her husband’s death and blames herself for believing the trapped nerve diagnosis.
“I was very relieved and so happy it was not his heart. Imagine, I believed them. That will haunt me all my life,” she told Mr Justice John Hedigan.
Oonah McCrann SC, for Ms O’Driscoll, said the essence of the case related to the management of Mr O’Driscoll in St Vincent’s hospital and the circumstances of his discharge which, she said, “fell far below the acceptable standard”.
Mr O’Driscoll previously had a triple bypass operation, the court heard. Had he been correctly diagnosed, he would have recovered with the appropriate treatment and, in all probability, would be alive today, Ms McCrann said.
Ms O’Driscoll had brought her husband to a VHI Swiftcare Clinic on March 1st, 2009, because he had pain, she added. Within 36 minutes, he was transferred by ambulance to St Vincent’s as the doctor in the clinic had concerns the pain was cardiac related.
Ms McCrann said a very rapid diagnosis regarding the pain was made by a doctor who examined Mr O’Driscoll in the hospital and this was never re-evaluated, despite being made without taking a targeted history. This had tragic consequences for Mr O’Driscoll and his family, she said. He was discharged on the morning of March 2nd and died that evening.
In the action, it is claimed there was a failure to carry out further medical review of Mr O’Driscoll five times while he was detained overnight at the hospital and given further painkillers.
It is also claimed there was a failure to consider a diagnosis of coronary syndrome and failure to adhere to the hospital protocol for coronary symptoms.
The case continues.