€120k for family of late cancer victim

The family of a Kerry woman who died from cancer was awarded €120,000 yesterday in a case where there was a failure in her follow-up care.

Helena O’Leary of Gneeveguilla, Rathmore, Co Kerry, died on December 5, 2012, at the age of 37, survived by her husband Seán and their son and daughter.

John O’Mahony, the plaintiff’s senior counsel, said at the High Court in Cork yesterday the €120,000 was offered by the HSE in settlement of the civil action.

“The case is a very sad case. The wife of the plaintiff [Seán O’Leary] had cancer. She had a breast removed in 2009. She was treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. There is no criticism of her primary treatment for breast cancer.

“However, in the follow through the criticism arises. There was not the necessary follow through and follow up, as a consequence of which she got metastasis or spread of cancer.

“There was no diagnosis of this so it was not dealt with in an appropriate manner. As a consequence, she died before she would have died if she had been treated with chemotherapy and adjunct hormonal treatment. Had she been treated, her life would have been extended by six to 12 months.”

The plaintiff’s lawyer said that an expert oncologist reported for them that her life would have been extended, but not by longer than six to 12 months.

Mr O’Mahony said this was not like other cancer cases coming before the High Court, in that the late Ms O’Leary would have died in any event, but later than the time when she did die.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross agreed and said: “The parameters of the claim are limited. “You have achieved the full value of the case. I am sure it is very difficult for the family of the deceased.”

He extended his sympathy to the family of the deceased. Mr O’Leary thanked the judge. Mr Justice Cross approved the settlement offer made by the HSE without an admission of liability.



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