Family settles action over death of mother following hospital falls

Anne Walsh was recovering from cancer surgery when she fell at St Vincent’s in Dublin

 Angela Walsh and Stephen Walsh speaking to the media outside the the High Court after their family settled an action over the death of their mother Anne Walsh in St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin. Photograph: Collins Courts

Angela Walsh and Stephen Walsh speaking to the media outside the the High Court after their family settled an action over the death of their mother Anne Walsh in St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

The family of a 60-year-old woman who fell twice while she was recovering from surgery at St Vincent’s University Hospital and later died has settled a High Court action.

Anne Walsh, a mother of six, had been recovering from cancer surgery when she suffered the falls in hospital on December 22nd and 23rd, counsel for the family Doireann O’Mahony BL told the court.

Ms Walsh “rapidly deteriorated and was seriously unwell” after the second fall, said Ms O’Mahony, and she was transferred to the hospital intensive care unit on Christmas Eve of 2015.

Counsel said Ms Walsh’s family is heartbroken that she spent her last Christmas critically ill in ICU. Ms Walsh’s system was overwhelmed and by January 5th, 2016, evacuation of an identified haematoma was thought of, but it was “too little too late”, said Ms O’Mahony.

Ms Walsh died on January 7th, 2016.

The settlement, of which the terms are confidential, is without an admission of liability and was reached after mediation, Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told.

All the claims were denied and the hospital claimed the falls did not cause Ms Walsh’s death.

Outside court, Ms Walsh’s son, Stephen Walsh, said the family had struggled to come to terms with the circumstances of their mother’s death.

Standing with his sister Angela and his solicitor Philip Coffey he said: “This has been a long and difficult struggle... We will remember, as always, our dear mother, partner, grandmother and sister this Christmas.”

Mr Walsh, of Pearse Avenue, Sallynoggin, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, had sued on behalf of his family St Vincent’s Healthcare Group trading as St Vincent’s University Hospital, Elm Park, Merrion Road, Dublin for nervous shock as a result of his mother’s death.

Ms Walsh had been recovering from a successful liver resection surgery. It was claimed she suffered a rectus sheath haematoma consequent to the first fall in hospital.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to take account of the fact that Ms Walsh was at risk of falls in the context of her condition. Among the claims was also an alleged failure to conduct a risk assessment and ensure safeguards were in place so as to prevent falls.

Ms Walsh had been making a steady recovery prior to her first fall on December 22nd when she fell backwards and hit her head and back. It was claimed she suffered a rectus sheath haematoma consequent to the first fall. She fell again when she collapsed, and a haematoma diagnosis was made.

It was claimed there was an alleged delay on the part of the hospital in responding to the suspected haematoma and arranging for imaging investigations.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Coffey conveyed his deepest sympathy to Ms Walsh’s family.