Family of woman in €580,000 settlement


THE FAMILY of a woman who died three years after being left in a semi-vegetative state as the result of alleged negligence in a routine operation at a private Galway hospital has secured more than €580,000 in settlement of their High Court action claiming wrongful death.

Mother of two Saundra O'Connor (42) died on February 19th last. It was alleged she fell into a coma and was left in a semi-vegetative state after suffering severe multiple organ failure following a surgical procedure performed on her at the Galway Clinic, Doughiska, Galway, in late January 2005.

Her husband, Martin O'Connor (46), Gardenhan, Claregalway, Co Galway, brought a High Court action alleging wrongful death of his wife against the Galway Clinic and a consultant gynaecologist, Dr Andrea Hermann, who had performed the medical procedure on Ms O'Connor.

Mr O'Connor had also brought a separate action against the defendants for damages for personal injuries and nervous shock suffered by him as a result of the death of his wife due to alleged negligence in her treatment. A third action was brought on behalf of the estate of the late Ms O'Connor to meet the costs of her medical care.

It was claimed the defendants failed to properly manage Ms O'Connor's post-operative care when she developed an infection, and had permitted her to develop septic shock, multi-organ failure, cardiac arrest and severe brain damage.

The defendants had denied the claims in all the actions.

At the High Court yesterday, Mr Justice Vivian Lavan was told by Denis McCullough SC, for the plaintiffs, that all three actions had been settled.

In relation to the wrongful death action, the judge, who extended his sympathies to the family for their tragic loss, approved a settlement of €580,000 for the family. No details of the settlement in relation to the other two actions were disclosed.

It was claimed the defendants had failed to review the outcome of the original operation, failed to diagnose the infection and failed to seek the opinion of a general surgeon in light of Ms O'Connor's deterioration. It was also alleged they failed to transfer her to UCHG at the earliest reasonable opportunity.

As a result of the alleged negligence, it was claimed she suffered brain damage and was left in a vegetative state. She had no voluntary movement in her limbs, and required round the clock care. Prior to her death she did not recognise her husband nor her two children, it was also claimed.

Mr O'Connor said he was in a state of shock and grief-stricken over what had happened to his wife.