Woman had to have ‘tantrum’ in hospital so partner would get palliative care

Mercy University Hospital offer condolences and apology for distress caused

A woman has told the High Court she wanted to be treated as an adult, not "a pest", when she sought information at the Mercy University Hospital in Cork concerning her dying partner.

Geraldine Barry was giving evidence in the second day of her action for damages against the Mercy Hospital which has admitted liability in relation to the post operative care of her partner Christopher Sayer.

Ms Barry (44), Lakemarsh, Church Cross, Skibbereen, Co Cork, had sued Mercy University Hospital, Cork, as a result of the death of Mr Sayer (70) at the hospital in April 2010.

Mr Justice Barr Anthony has to assess damages in the case.


Mr Sayer, who suffered from cancer, had a colon operation at the hospital on March 11th, 2010 and appeared to make a good recovery, but became unwell on the evening of March 15th. He developed septic shock due to a leak and had to have further surgery on March 17th. Over the following weeks, his condition did not improve and he died on April 19th.

It was claimed the hospital staff did not act with due expedition in diagnosing and treating the leak.

On the second day of the case on Wednesday, Oonagh McCrann SC, for the hospital, said she was instructed on behalf of the hospital to offer sincere condolences and an apology for the distress caused.

In her evidence, Ms Barry said she had to have a “tantrum” in the hospital ward so Mr Sayer would get the palliative care required. Mr Sayer was transferred back from ICU to a ward to die, but was not referred for palliative care because it was the weekend, she said.

After Mr Sayer’s second operation to repair the leak, he was not conscious and a CT scan later discovered a brain injury, she said. She sought the results of the scan. “All I wanted was somebody to treat me as an adult and not to treat me like a pest.”

She said she found out by chance about another scan and was not told the result, which showed little or no brain activity.

A doctor told her “this is as good as it gets” and a neurologist later explained matters in a straightforward way, she said.

Had the hospital admitted liability at the time of the 2010 inquest into Mr Sayer’s death, that would have helped, she said.

Earlier, her counsel David Holland SC said the Mercy Hospital had agreed, but for the admitted negligence on its part in relation to post-operative care, Mr Sayer would have had a normal life expectancy.

The case continues.