HSE apologise to family of woman who died of brain haemorrhage

The HSE has apologised to the family of a 21-year-old woman over the deficiencies and failures which led to her death from a massive brain haemorrhage.

The High Court heard that Louise Butler died at Limerick Regional Hospital on November 16, 2006 from a large subarachnoid haemorrhage. However her family claimed that the HSE failed to properly diagnose that she was suffering from the condition when she presented at the hospital the previous October suffering with a serious headache.

They argued that had she been properly diagnosed and referred for treatment after being admitted October 6 she would have been treated, that on the balance of probabilities she would have survived.

In an apology, as part of the settlement of family's action for mental distress, the HSE apologised for the anguish and distress caused to the Butlers due to Louise's tragic death. The HSE also acknowledged there were failures and deficiencies which lead to Louise's death and also accepted that her family did everything it could in the circumstances.

The settlement also included a payment of €40,000 to Louise's family was approved in the High Court today by Mr Justice Michael Peart. Before her death Louise, Cappa Lodge, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare, worked as a security guard at Shannon Airport. The action was brought by her brother James, also of Cappa Lodge, Sixmilebridge on behalf of the family.

They claimed they suffered from mental distress and injury arising from their older sister's death due to the HSE's alleged negligence and breach of duty of care. The HSE had denied the claims.

The family claimed that Louise attended the hospital between October 6-12 with a very substantial headache, which Louise claimed was like a hammer blow to the back of her head, photophobia and was ill.

She was discharged on October 12 without a CT scan being carried out. She was due to have a CT scan carried out subsequently as an outpatient.

Despite the best endeavours of Louise's mother and the family GP it was claimed that the scan was not arranged until November 13. It was claimed that Louise never got the results of that scan as she collapsed the following day. A CT scan revealed that she had suffered from a massive bleed in the brain, and she died two days later.

They claimed that the HSE had delayed a CT scan which would have alerted medical staff to the existence of her condition. The family claimed that their experts would argue that in October Louise was suffering from a "sentinel" or "herald" bleed, which was a precursor to a large bleed.

Other proceedings against the HSE arising out of Louise's death, brought by her mother Christine, have previously been settled.

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