Nurse sues HSE claiming she developed chest pain following row at work

Portlaoise woman says she was hospitalised over condition triggered by request to give password to access computer files

The Four Courts: A 68-year-old former nurse claims she was forced to retire nine months after an incident in October 2016 at a clinic in Bray, Co Wicklow, where she helped clients with addiction issues.

A nurse has sued in the High Court claiming she got “broken heart syndrome” following a row at work over a password.

Anna McCann claims she developed the condition, takotsubo cardiomyopathy, which is known as “broken heart syndrome”, and was hospitalised for a week.

She has sued her former employer, the Health Service Executive, claiming she was told she would be put on report when she would not give her password to access files. The 68 year old from Portlaoise also claims she was forced to retire early nine months after the incident in October 2016 at a clinic in Bray, Co Wicklow, where she helped clients with addiction issues.

The alleged encounter, which is disputed by the HSE, occurred as the HSE merged two services, the court heard. It planned to shut down one computerised system and needed to access the system in the Bray office to download client nursing files and notes.


The HSE has denied all claims and contends there was a request to access the computer system, and when it was not given the HSE officer withdrew. The HSE contends the alleged agitation was on Ms McCann’s side.

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Opening the case, Andrew Sexton SC, for Ms McCann, told the court the temporary heart condition can occur when a person is placed under unexpected stress. He said HSE policy documents say passwords must not be shared and Ms McCann had not adopted a fanciful approach to the password but was adhering to her duties as an employee.

He said Ms McCann had gone from being in a nice job to her life being turned upside down.

Giving evidence, Ms McCann said a HSE officer said she needed to access the system and wanted Ms McCann’s password.

“I was taken aback. I said I can’t give the password. She stood and said: ‘I need the password.’ I said: ‘I can’t give it to you. I am not allowed to give it.’ I started feeling a headache,” Ms McCann told Mr Justice Tony O’Connor.

The HSE officer stepped back and she said she was putting Ms McCann on a report and ringing nurse management, she said.

Ms McCann said she was very stressed and her head was pounding. She said she told the HSE officer to get out of her room and she was feeling chest pain.

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She said that when she rang a nursing manager about the alleged incident, the manager asked why she did not give the password.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” she said. She drove home towards Portlaoise and attended the emergency department of her local hospital as she had chest pain, she said.

Cross-examined by HSE senior counsel Michael Tuite, Ms McCann said it was “absolutely not true” that she was the source of aggravation. She denied she was hostile from the get-go.

The hearing continues.