St Luke's General Hospital, Kilkenny has apologised at the High Court to the family of a 68-year-old woman who died of a heart attack two days after she was admitted to the hospital.
Bridget Tallis, a mother of eight, had a heart pacemaker inserted six days before she was admitted to the hospital three years ago with alleged symptoms of fluid building up in the sac around her heart.
It was alleged there was a failure to diagnose perforation of the right ventricle of her heart, a known complication of pacemaker implantation, and Ms Tallis died of cardiac arrest on March 27th, 2015.
On Thursday, Patrick Treacy SC, for the family, told Mr Justice Anthony Barr an initial diagnosis of sepsis was made.
If an echo cardiogram had been performed the fluid build up, cardiac tamponade, would have been diagnosed and the fluid could have been drained, he said.
If this had occurred on March 25th or 26th, it is likely Ms Tallis would have survived, he said.
The hospital’s apology was read as part of a €250,000 settlement of the case by the family of Ms Tallis, Lacken Drive, Kilkenny, over the circumstances of her care at the Kilkenny hospital when she was brought to A&E vomiting.
The hospital accepted responsibility for the circumstances leading to the death of Mrs Tallis and “sincerely apologised”.
It said: “The staff in St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny are truly sorry for the failure to diagnose the true cause of Mrs Tallis’s ill-health during the period March 25th to March 27th, 2015 and this is deeply regretted by all involved.”
“The incalculable distress and grief that has been caused to you and to the members of your respective families by these shortcomings is sincerely regretted by all the persons who were involved in the care of the late Mrs Tallis during these dates.”
The hospital also confirmed steps have been taken in relation to recommendations handed down with a verdict of misadventure at the inquest into the death of Mrs Tallis.
Those recommendations included a review of the case with input from a cardiologist and a review of access to the hospital wards and emergency incidents due to the delay in access to the ward in this case.
“It is hoped these steps arising from the untimely death of the late Mrs Tallis now serves to significantly reduce the risk of the tragic circumstances giving rise to her from occurring again,” the statement concluded.
Outside court, John Tallis, son of Ms Tallis, said, on behalf of the family, that a "timely and appropriate intervention" would have prevented her death following admission post pacemaker insertion.
“The apology and admission of liability from St Luke’s Hospital is positive step for our family,” he said. “We hope the hospital learns from this mistake and implements the findings so that no other family has to endure the suffering and loss we have had.”
John Tallis had sued the HSE, on behalf of all of his family members, over the circumstances of Ms Tallis’ care in the days before she died.
Ms Tallis underwent implantation of a permanent pacemaker in an operation at a Dublin hospital on March 19th, 2015. The procedure was conducted without negligence but she suffered perforation of the right ventricle, an acknowledged complication of pacemaker implantation.
It was claimed she developed symptoms of a build up of fluid around the heart because of the perforation and attended A&E at the Kilkenny hospital on March 25th, 2015 and was admitted.
It was claimed her recent history was known from the time she attended A&E but the hospital failed to diagnose and or investigate the possibility of a perforation of the right ventricle, with the result her condition remained untreated and she suffered cardiac arrest and died.
Had Ms Tallis’ condition been correctly diagnosed in an expeditious fashion, drainage could have been performed successfully and she would have survived the complication that arose from her pacemaker surgery, it was claimed.
The family claimed they have suffered mental distress as a result of the death of Mrs Tallis.
It was alleged a diagnosis of sepsis was made to the exclusion of other possible diagnosis when there was allegedly no objective evidence of sepsis and the hospital knew the recent medical history of Mrs Tallis.
Liability was admitted in the case last week and it was before the court for assessment of damages only.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Barr said he hoped the court proceedings had brought closure for the family.