Hospital apologises to widow over ‘deficits in care’ resulting in death of husband (37)

Case against University Hospital Kerry settled for six figure sum following mediation

July 13th, 2021: University Hospital Kerry has apologised for “deficits of care” which it acknowledged resulted in the death of Liam Duggan, a 37-year-old father of two, who died of a rare form of colitis after he had attended the hospital in Tralee in 2017.

 

University Hospital Kerry has apologised for “deficits of care” which it acknowledged resulted in a man’s untimely death.

Liam Duggan, a 37-year-old father of two, died of a rare form of colitis after he had attended the hospital in Tralee in 2017.

It was claimed he was discharged prematurely and was not given an abdominal CT scan at the end of March 2017 which would have shown ongoing serious inflammation of the colon and lead to an early and curative colectomy and his survival.

At the High Court on Tuesday, an apology from the hospital’s general manager was given to Mr Duggan’s widow Catherine whose action over his death was settled following mediation. The settlement includes a six figure sum.

Catherine Duggan, wife of the late Liam Duggan, with her solicitor Rachael O Shaughnessy who spoke to the media outside the Four Courts following the settlement of her action for damages. Photograph: Collins Courts
Catherine Duggan, wife of the late Liam Duggan, with her solicitor Rachael O Shaughnessy who spoke to the media outside the Four Courts following the settlement of her action for damages. Photograph: Collins Courts

It stated: “University Hospital Kerry would like to acknowledge the deficits of care which resulted in the untimely death of your husband and father Liam. We recognise that his loss has had a profound and devastating effect on you and your family. I wish to offer my heartfelt apologies for the shortcomings in the care provided and for the distress suffered by you, Jack and Amelia.”

Eugene Gleeson SC, for Ms Duggan, instructed by HOMS Assist solicitors, said the apology was of considerable assistance to the Duggan family.

Ms Duggan from Myglass East, Ballymacelligott, Tralee, sued the HSE over the care and treatment given to her husband when he attended the Kerry hospital in March 2017 with abdominal pain and vomiting. He was treated and a diagnosis of pseudomembranous colitis, an inflammation of the large intestine, was made on March 23rd.

It was claimed he was discharged prematurely on April 3rd while still symptomatic. Mr Duggan was readmitted to the hospital nine days later on April 12th with further abdominal pain and vomiting and diarrhoea and with a high temperature. It is claimed he was given fluids and, on April 13th, an urgent colonoscopy and CT scan of the abdomen was planned and he was admitted to ICU.

He was critically ill at this stage and required intubation and was transferred to Cork University Hospital ICU for renal support. His condition deteriorated and he died on May 9th, 2017.

An inquest into Mr Duggan’s death was told by Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, he died of natural causes. The cause of death was given as multiple organ failure due to septic shock due to colitis.

In the High court proceedings, it was claimed Mr Duggan had been discharged from the Kerry hospital while still symptomatic and there was a failure to take an abdominal CT scan on March 28th and 29th 2017 which, it was claimed, would have demonstrated ongoing serious inflammation of his colon.

It was further claimed there was failure to perform an earlier colectomy on Mr Duggan which his side alleged would on balance according to its medical experts have led to Mr Duggan’s survival.

The HSE, the court heard, admitted negligence but had denied it was a contributory factor to Mr Duggan’s death.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey congratulated the parties on reaching a settlement in a tragic case.

In a statement outside the Four Courts afterwards, his wife said: “The traffic loss of Jack and Amelia’s Dad at such an early age especially when that loss should not have happened left both children shattered.” She described her husband as “such a family man” who was loved so much and said his life revolved around his family.

“We have had to fight tooth and nail to bring justice for Liam who should have been in the prime of his life. We have fought hard the last four years to get to today. After a four year battle, I hope that Liam gets to rest in peace,” she said.

Ms Duggan said her husband, a golf club professional, was known as the “gentle giant” in schools where he had brought golf to children and was loved by all.

“Liam was a wonderful man, husband and father who endeared himself to everyone he encountered in life, schools, teachers, parents and students alike. Liam was a PGA advanced golf professional and was posthumously awarded the president’s award for golf development in 2017 for recognition of his tireless efforts and huge success in developing golf in schools and promoting inclusivity in Ireland. ’