Family of Kerry woman found dead after visit to on-call doctor settles case for €75,000

Family of Kerry woman found dead after visit to on-call doctor settles case for €75,000
Lyndsey Morgan leaving court today. Pic: Courtpix.

A 57-year-old woman was found dead in a chair at her Kerry home after an alleged failure the previous day to diagnose she was suffering from a heart problem, a court has heard.

Angela Morris, of Oak Hill, Ballydribbeen, Killarney, Co Kerry, died on January 19, 2012, from heart failure secondary to severe valvular heart disease, it was claimed.

Her family brought High Court proceedings over her death and the case was settled today for €75,000, writes Ann O'Loughlin.

Her daughter, Lyndsey Morgan, sued South-West Doctors on Call Ltd in Killarney, and six GPs, for negligence over the alleged failure to diagnose the heart problem and refer her mother to a cardiac specialist. Mrs Morris previously presented on multiple occasions with chest problems, it was claimed.

The settlement was without admission of liability and was not against Southwest Doctors-on-Call.

It was against Doctors Krzysztof Kolodziejczyk, Clodagh Kenny, Tom Hubbard, Mary Glancy, Patricia Mangan and against Dr Wynand Jakobus Smit, of South West Doctors-on-Call.

Dr John O'Mahony SC, for Ms Morgan and the family told Mr Justice Kevin Cross on January 18, the day before she died, Mrs Morris drove herself to the defendant company's "South Doc" clinic in the Park Shopping Village, Killarney.

It was around 4.50am indicating Mrs Morris was in "a lot of trouble medically speaking", counsel said.

Dr Smit took a short medical history from her and examined her but unfortunately seemed to think it was respiratory when it was cardiac, counsel said. She was in heart failure and had longstanding issues with her heart, he said.

She should have been referred to a cardiologist at that stage especially as she had presented to her GP on a number of occasions over previous months, he said.

As she had a longstanding heart condition, had the correct diagnosis been carried out, she would have received early treatment, counsel said.

She was provided with medicine at South Doc but went to her GP later that day looking for a nebuliser. It was the following day, around 3pm, that her daughter found her dead in a chair at home, counsel said.

Mrs Morris smoked 20 cigarettes a day, counsel said.

In the action, it was claimed that during the examination of her on January 18, it was noted she smelled "like an ashtray" and was not distressed.

Dr Smit, it was claimed, felt she had chronic obstructive airways disease with "barrel chest, wheeze and a few creptitations" and was also described as a "blue barrel". After being treated and given a prescription, Dr Smit advised her to stop smoking.

It was alleged there were multiple failures by the defendants including in relation to an incorrect diagnosis, failure to properly investigate her condition and failure to refer her to a cardiac specialist.

In relation to Dr Smit, it was also alleged that he failed to refer her to a cardiac specialist or hospital despite the fact that he had also described her as a "blue bloater". It was claimed this is a description of a patient who has late stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


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