Wexford man blinded by medical error settles court action for €5.9m

Beaumont Hospital agrees to pay for future care

A 49-year-old man made blind by a medical error while in the care of Beaumont Hospital, Dublin has settled his High Court action for €5.9 million.

Brendan Doyle’s counsel told the court that a shunt which had been in Mr Doyle’s brain since childhood was removed when he was admitted to Beaumont Hospital in 2011 but was not reinserted, leading to “tragic consequences” for Mr Doyle who is now totally blind.

Denis McCullough SC said this was the “final straw” for Mr Doyle, who has had cerebral palsy and mild learning disabilities since childhood. Mr Doyle has lived in a nursing home since, counsel said.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Cross said this sad incident had a "catastrophic" effect on Mr Doyle but the settlement will look after Mr Doyle for the rest of his life.


He also noted the hospital had admitted liability and had taken a reasonable approach in relation to the future accommodation needs of Mr Doyle, who will now be able to move out of the nursing home.

Mr Doyle, who currently resides at Lawson House, Glenbrien, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, had, through his brother John Doyle, sued Beaumont Hospital over the circumstances of his care.

Mr Doyle had a shunt inserted in his brain in childhood.

On June 1st, 2011 he was complaining of headache and vomiting and went to hospital in Wexford where he had a CT scan and was referred to Beaumont Hospital. It was claimed, due to a suspicion of a shunt related infection, the brain shunt was removed a few days later and it was decided it was not necessary to re-establish the shunt.

Mr Doyle was discharged from Beaumont on June 10th, 2011 with directions to continue antibiotic therapy and after a few days in his local hospital was discharged on June 16th, 2011.

It is claimed the next day he was back in the A&E of his local hospital complaining of increased weakness and had a CT scan. He had another CT scan in July. Mr Doyle, who was complaining of headache, was referred back to outpatients at Beaumont Hospital and in August 2011 his case was reviewed.

It was claimed the impression was formed his condition was improving and another CT scan was recommended for December 2011.

In early September 2011, it was claimed Mr Doyle suffered loss of vision and was referred back to Beaumont where he underwent surgery. Nothwithstanding the re-insertion of the brain shunt, Mr Doyle lost his eyesight.

In a statement by John Doyle read outside court by solicitor Michael Boylan, John Doyle said the family felt aggrieved that liability was only admitted last January, six and half years later.

“Brendan has wasted almost seven years of his life in a nursing home with no effective rehabilitation programme, surrounded by elderly patients and having to wait for a call bell to be answered just so he can use the bathroom,” Mr Doyle said.

Before this incident, Brendan was very independent, used bus services independently, wrote for his local newspaper and enjoyed lots of hobbies.

“Before this he required supervision only rather than care. Brendan was an active and contributing member of his community.”

The Doyles said the settlement will provide Brendan with a purpose built home of his own and the 24-hour support that he now needs.

“We and Brendan would return every cent of this settlement were it to mean that he could see again but we hope that with therapy and proper rehabilitation, Brendan will, at least, once again become an active member of his community and begin to enjoy life once more.

“We will leave Dublin now and return to Wexford to start putting arrangements in place so that Brendan will spend Christmas in a suitable home and can start the New Year with a care support package in place that will allow Brendan to surmount the challenges life has presented, as he has bravely done before.”

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times