Woman who feared she had contracted Aids ‘not a credible witness’

Kathryn Singleton claimed taking of blood sample breached her right to bodily integrity

A file image of Kathryn Singleton  leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts.

A file image of Kathryn Singleton leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A woman has lost her action for damages taken on grounds that she was left afraid she may have Aids after having a blood test while she was in hospital for a pain injection.

Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon dismissed the case of Kathryn Singleton, who claimed a blood test was taken as she was being moved from theatre after undergoing a procedure under sedation at St Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown, Dublin.

At issue was the consent given by Ms Singleton for the blood sample. It was taken to check for Hepatitis and HIV because a doctor had been pricked with a bloodied needle during the earlier procedure.

Ms Justice O’Hanlon ruled Ms Singleton understood fully the reason for the blood test. She found Ms Singleton gave a full, free and informed consent to the procedure being carried out and showed alertness and full comprehension in being able to instruct that she did not want her GP to be informed of the result of the blood test.

The judge found Ms Singleton had not been a credible witness with many inconsistencies in her evidence.

Liability for the costs of the six day case, described by the judge as “one of exceptional difficulty”, will be decided later.

Ms Singleton (58), from Liverpool, but who previously resided in Arklow, Co Wicklow, had sued what was then the East Coast Area Health Board.

Sedation

She claimed, as she emerged from the effects of sedation at the hospital on May 1st 2003, she was approached by a doctor who allegedly insisted on taking a blood sample from her because of some incident which had occurred in theatre during the procedure.

She claimed, as a result, she suffered severe inconvenience, distress and personal injury. She alleged the taking of the blood sample breached her constitutional right to bodily integrity.

She further claimed failure to provide her with an appropriate or adequate explanation for the taking of the blood sample and to treat her with dignity and respect.

She further claimed a needle stick injury was allegedly allowed to occur in the course of her surgical procedure, thus placing her at risk, and she was not given an appropriate explanation.

The claims were denied.

Ms Justice O’Hanlon said she accepted the evidence of the doctor who took the blood test.

She found the doctor was a truthful and credible witness.

She found his taking of the consent and the blood test was done applying the same level of skill as any medical practitioner of equal status acting with ordinary care in accordance with the ethics of their profession and in line with the standard required.