The family of an elderly woman who died two days after attending a hospital emergency department complaining of a sudden and severe headache have secured a €150,000 settlement of their High Court action.
Kathleen Lynch’s family claimed a subarachnoid haemorrhage should have been diagnosed at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe, Co Galway; that she should have been admitted there and was wrongly discharged from the emergency department.
The claims were denied.
Ms Lynch (79), a mother of two and grandmother of three, collapsed at home on the night after she left the hospital. Her husband found her lying unconscious in a pool of blood, she was rushed back to hospital where a scan showed a bleed on the brain and she died the following day.
Her husband, John Lynch, of Athlone, Co Westmeath and their daughter, Caroline Fordham, who lives in Surrey, England, sued the HSE over the care Ms Lynch received when she first presented at the hospital in April 2018.
She experienced a headache while in bed on the night of April 16th 2018 and took a painkiller. An ambulance was called early on April 17th and she was taken to Portiuncula Hospital.
When admitted to the emergency department, she was complaining of a severe and sudden headache, was given oxygen and reviewed by a doctor at 5am. She still had a pain in her head and some neck stiffness and nausea and was given medication.
It was claimed that Mr Lynch, before his wife’s discharge at about 7am, told the doctor his wife was confused and he expressed concerns about her welfare.
It was claimed the couple were informed by the treating doctor there was no reason why she should be admitted and she was given a prescription for medication.
It was claimed that all times while in the hospital, Ms Lynch was suffering from a severe headache, nausea, confusion, agitation and unsteadiness, was still suffering from a severe headache when she arrived home on April 17th and continued to be confused and disorientated.
On the night of April 18th, her husband heard a sound coming from another room in their home where he found his wife unconscious lying in a pool of blood. An ambulance was called, she was brought back to the hospital and transferred to ICU.
A CT scan showed a subarachnoid haemorrhage and it was decided surgical intervention was inappropriate. The family was advised the prognosis was poor and she died on April 19th 2018.
Approving the settlement on Thursday, Mr Justice Kevin Cross extended his sympathy to the family.