Hospital to pay €750,000 to man who didn’t get brain scan quickly after assault

High Cout told St James’s Hospital admitted breach of duty over care of injured and intoxicated patient

 Francis Cunningham, of Casement Park, Finglas, Dublin, pictured leaving the Four Courts  on Tuesday after his  High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts

Francis Cunningham, of Casement Park, Finglas, Dublin, pictured leaving the Four Courts on Tuesday after his High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A man who sued St James’s Hospital, Dublin over the care he received when he was taken there by ambulance after he was assaulted has settled his High Court action for €750,000.

Francis Cunningham (45), who is now in a wheelchair, had a cut on the back of his head when admitted to the hospital in October 2010, the court was told.

His counsel,Oisin Quinn SC said their case was Mr Cunningham, who was found to have bleeding on the brain following a CT scan, should have had the scan sooner. Their case was that would have lead to his having had brain surgery earlier.

Had that happened, their case was that, Mr Cunningham on the balance of probabilities would be able to walk and live independently, counsel said.

Mr Cunningham, of Casement Park, Finglas, Dublin, through his brother James of the same address, had sued the hospital over the care he received.

It was claimed there was a failure to properly assess Mr Cunningham on attendance at the hospital and to treat him with appropriate urgency, particularly in circumstances of head injury.

It was also claimed there was a failure to carry out any or any proper or suitable observation or monitoring of Mr Cunningham.

Mr Cunningham was brought by ambulance to the hospital on a date in October 2010 after he was assaulted nearby.

It was recorded when he attended at the hospital A&E at 15.26pm that his primary complaint was alcohol and his secondary complaint a laceration.

When assessed two hours later it was noted Mr Cunningham was intoxicated and not verbalising and had a cut to the back of the head. It was claimed a CT scan three hours later showed bleeding on the brain and he was transferred to another hospital for brain surgery.

It was claimed that, at this stage, his clinical condition was much worse.

If a CT scan was carried out earlier, it would have led to a more immediate referral to another hospital for surgery, it was alleged.

St James’s Hospital admitted breach of duty in that the review of Mr Cunningham at 17.20pm ought to have lead to a request for a CT brain scan at that point. All other claims were denied.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was a good one and and hopefully the house in Finglas can now be adapted for Mr Cunningham’s needs.