Hospital apology to Colette Fitzpatrick over father’s death

HSE admits liability and reaches settlement over treatment of 87-year-old in Co Tipperary

Colette Fitzpatrick, with her siblings, said their father was a source of great love, affection and joy to them. Photograph: Collins

Colette Fitzpatrick, with her siblings, said their father was a source of great love, affection and joy to them. Photograph: Collins

 

Tipperary University Hospital has apologised to Virgin Media news anchor Colette Fitzpatrick and her sister Olivia for the failure that led to the death of their father, a retired Garda chief superintendent.

The letter of apology was read out in court as the Health Service Executive admitted liability in the case and a settlement was reached with the Fitzpatricks after mediation. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

The Fitzpatricks’ counsel, Oisín Quinn SC, told the court Peter Fitzpatrick died aged 87 on January 31st, 2019.

The letter of apology from the general manager of Tipperary University Hospital, which was formerly known as South Tipperary General Hospital, said it “sincerely apologised for our failure to take adequate action or steps or interventions that led to the death of your father Mr Peter Fitzpatrick in our care”.

The letter added: “Moreover, we apologise for causing you and your family unnecessary pain and distress.”

The television host and her sister Olivia, of Holycross, Thurles, Co Tipperary, who had sued the HSE for mental distress over their father’s death, were in court for the announcement of the settlement. Mr Justice Paul Coffey conveyed his “deepest sympathy” to them and their wider family.

What happened?

Fitzpatrick (87) who lived at Holycross, Thurles, Co Tipperary, had been admitted to the Tipperary hospital emergency department on January 24th, 2019, after being referred by his general practitioner with a history of bilious vomiting. After an X-ray, a diagnosis of obstruction and a further clinical diagnosis of sepsis were recorded and intravenous antibiotics were started.

A surgical team concluded he had an obstruction and treatment was started for deep-vein thrombosis. He had a CT scan on January 25th and five days later it was noted the diagnosis was of bowel obstruction and that the pensioner was unwell and drowsy.

On January 30th he underwent an emergency surgical procedure but became critically ill afterwards. He died the next morning.

Among the claims was that there was a failure to adequately, competently or properly diagnose or investigate Fitzpatrick’s clinical condition at any time following his admission to hospital on January 24th and his avoidable death on January 31st.

It was claimed he was relatively fit and active prior to his death.

His daughters said he was a source of great love, affection and joy to them and their families.