Family settle case over death in hospital of 23-year-old woman

HSE admitted it failed in its duty of care to Paige Crotty during post-operative period


A young student who went into hospital with pain in her right side died of a blood clot three days after surgery, the High Court has heard.

The mother and family of 23-year-old Paige Crotty settled their actions on Wednesday against the HSE over her death at South Tipperary General Hospital.

The HSE admitted it failed in its duty of care to Ms Crotty during her post-operative period. Mr Justice Kevin Cross extended his sympathy to the young woman’s family “for the deepest tragedy that has happened”.

Ms Crotty, from Clonmel, Co Tipperary , was a student of Waterford Institute of Technology studying social care at the time of her death. She was in her third year in college and intended to pursue a Masters degree.

On Wednesday, Richard Kean SC, with Esther Earley BL, instructed by Niamh O’Brien solicitor, told the court three actions arose out of the very tragic death. Ms Crotty’s mother Pamela O’Hanlon had sued for nervous shock and on behalf of her family for the death of her daughter. Those actions were settled on a confidential basis. Ms Crotty’s 16-year-old sister Robyn had also sued for nervous shock and settled her action for €45,000.

In a letter to Ms Crotty’s mother last year, the general manager of South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel apologised for “the hospital’s shortcomings in the care” provided to Ms Crotty. The hospital said it wanted to assure Ms O’Hanlon it had learned from what happened and, in order to try to prevent or to reduce the risk of recurrence, had implemented a number of recommended changes.

The letter added: “We deeply regret these shortcomings and the death of Paige. We acknowledge the distress and the trauma experienced by you and your family and we offer our heartfelt condolences.” Ms Crotty had gone to the A&E of the hospital on August 13th, 2015 with a complaint of pain in her right abdomen area. She had an ultrasound scan and a decision was made to perform surgery to take out her appendix.

During that surgery the next day, it was realised her appendix was normal but she had an ovarian cyst. The large cyst and ovary were removed but, it was claimed, there was a failure in the aftermath of this procedure to take adequate precautions against the young woman developing a deep vein thrombosis. Ms Crotty had developed a blood clot in her right calf and multiple pulmonary emboli secondary to that, resulting in her death on August 17th, 2015.

It was claimed there was failure to take reasonable care for Ms Crotty’s safety while a patient in the hospital, that inadequate doses of anticoagulant were administered and she was given support stockings which were ill fitting, too short and marked her legs. It was alleged that, after her operation, Ms Crotty was placed in a maternity ward which was an unsuitable location for adequate monitoring.

There was failure, it was alleged, to identify the seriousness of the clinical scenario that existed and the fact that her condition was rapidly deteriorating. It was claimed it was wrongly provisionally diagnosed she was suffering an internal haemorrhage and there was failure to consider the possibility she had developed a deep vein thrombosis.

The HSE admitted it failed in its duty of care to Ms Crotty during her post-operative period and, in particular, failed to take adequate precautions to manage and reduce her risk of venous thromboembolism. It admitted this failure in the post-operative period contributed to her death.