The family of a 47-year-old man who collapsed and later died while on a hospital waiting list for surgery has settled a High Court action over his care.
Farmer Patrick Doyle was for several months on a waiting list to have his gallbladder removed when he collapsed six years ago.
In the High Court on Tuesday, St Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny, gave an unreserved apology to the Doyle family for the “hospital’s failings in respect of the care of the late Patrick Doyle”.
The apology from the general manager Anne Slattery added: “We deeply regret these failings and acknowledge the sadness, distress and loss these failings have caused you and your family.”
The hospital also offered sincere condolences to the Doyle family.
Mr Doyle, from Killeshin, Co Carlow, had a history of gallstones.
In September 2016, he was given a primary diagnosis of gallstone pancreatitis that was resolving. His case was marked as urgent. Two months later he was booked in for gallbladder removal and a laparoscopy but, in March 2017, he collapsed and was readmitted to St Luke’s hospital with severe upper abdominal pain.
The Doyle family’s counsel, Oonah McCrann SC, instructed by Marian Fogarty of Cantillons Solicitors, said his condition deteriorated in the Kilkenny hospital and he was transferred to Dublin. He spent 90 days in intensive care and died on June 20th, 2017.
Liability was admitted in the case. The settlement, the terms of which are confidential, was reached after mediation.
In a statement outside court, Mr Doyle’s sister, Lillie Collins said the family hopes lessons will be learned by the hospital about delays to treating gallstone pancreatitis in patients, considering the consequences can be fatal.
Ms Collins, who brought the case against the Health Service Executive on behalf of her family over Mr Doyle’s care in September 2016, added: “We hope our story will spread awareness on this issue as we do not wish another family to go through the harrowing ordeal that we have suffered following the needless loss of our much-loved brother.”
Her family had been reassured by the Kilkenny hospital that Mr Doyle’s condition was not serious, said Ms Collins, of Dalystown, Loughrea, Co Galway. However, she added, that the family later noticed he had deteriorated and requested his transfer to Dublin.
When admitted to the Kilkenny hospital with severe abdominal pain on March 7th, 2017, he was diagnosed with pancreatitis due to gallstones. Later that day a scan found some of the tissue in his pancreas was dying.
When moved to the Dublin intensive care unit on March 20th, he was noted as having blurred vision and difficulty sleeping. Two days later septic shock and acute kidney injury were recorded.
He was ventilated, intubated and sedated but died some months later.
In the proceedings, the family alleged there was a failure to follow guidelines for the management of gallstone pancreatitis during Mr Doyle’s Kilkenny hospital admission in September 2016.
It was also claimed there was a failure to carry out the gallbladder removal in September 2016, another failure to ensure an urgent booking for the operation was made in November 2016, and a failure to ensure it took place within a month of that date.