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€85k award for mother’s death

A mother of five suffered septicaemia and died after a back operation at Cork University Hospital and yesterday her family was awarded €85,000 in compensation.

Without an admission of liability, the case settled for that amount and was ruled on yesterday by Mr Justice Brian McGovern.

Maria Healy, aged 59, late of Curracahill, Millstreet, Co Cork, died on July 30, 2010.

Yesterday at the High Court sitting in Cork, the settlement award from the HSE was made to the deceased’s husband, Tony Healy. Mrs Healy is also survived by her five adult children.

Mr Justice McGovern said: "Whether it was medical misadventure or negligence or something in between these are very distressing [types of] deaths. I am going to approve the settlement.

"I would like to sympathise with you on the loss of your wife. I understand no money can ever compensate you for the loss of your wife. You can feel vindicated for taking this step."

The judge acknowledged that the deceased had underlying health difficulties prior to the operation.

John O’Mahony, the plaintiff’s senior counsel, said: "She had a lot of other maladies and conditions. She was a poor subject for any operative intervention."

The late Mrs Healy underwent a lower back operation following which she developed septicaemia and died.

Dr O’Mahony said three medical experts from the UK would have been called had the case gone to trial, including a neurosurgeon.

"He says there was failure to identify when serious infection was asserting itself and that should have been addressed vigorously and in a timely fashion and sent to intensive care at an early stage," Dr O’Mahony said.

Another expert from the UK would have argued that the deceased’s condition was inappropriately managed with intensive care, he said.