The High Court recently considered Ms Larkin’s claim for post-traumatic stress following an alleged “near death experience” in hospital in January 2008*. The plaintiff began to bleed internally after her baby was delivered by caesarean section, and required a second operation to stop the bleeding.
The plaintiff sued the HSE and the consultant gynaecologist for alleged negligence and breach of duty. She claimed the defendants failed to sufficiently check or recognise signs that she was bleeding profusely and losing substantial amounts of blood, despite her distress signals. She alleged that, by the time she underwent an operation to stop the bleeding, she was in a parlous state and had suffered massive blood loss and a near death experience. At the date of the trial, the plaintiff alleged that she had not recovered from the possibility that she might have died.
The claims were denied by the defendants, who argued that the plaintiff was treated in a timely and appropriate manner when surgical complications were identified.
The Judge accepted that no bleed was present when the consultant completed the caesarean section, and subsequently left the hospital. As soon as he was called back, he took charge and successfully performed the second operation to stop the bleeding. On that basis, Mr Justice Cross said the plaintiff’s action against the consultant must fail.
However, he went on to award €25,000 against the HSE for what he described as a needless “one hour delay” before the second operation to stop the bleeding.