A lawyer who suffered an acquired brain injury when he failed to regain consciousness after he got an anaesthetic for a routine back procedure has settled his High Court action for €7.1m.

The High Court heard that Frank Cowan, a former barrister, was 46 when he failed to initially regain consciousness and suffered an acquired brain injury.

His counsel, Oonagh McCrann, said Mr Cowan suffered a catastrophic hypoxic brain injury which arose as a result of negligence in anaesthetic management.

Mr Cowan, of Clonee, Co Meath, had, through his wife Janette, sued anaesthetist Deirdre Lohan in relation to his anaesthetic management when he underwent a routine back procedure.

The court heard that liability was admitted in the case in October.

Ms McCrann told Mr Justice Kevin Cross that Mr Cowan had been a practising barrister in the Law Library until 2008, and later worked in the regulatory industry. In 2014, he had been experiencing back pain and went to the Sports Surgery Clinic, Santry, Dublin, for elective routine cervical spine surgery.

Counsel said Mr Cowan suffered an acquired brain injury which has affected all aspects of his life. She said he reacts to his family and smiles at his children but cannot communicate his needs or pain and needs 24-hour care.

She said Mr Cowan is being cared for in a facility but it was his family’s hope to care for him at home. Ms McCrann said the €7.1m was a final settlement in the case as Mrs Cowan found the whole litigation process so distressing, and the family just wants to be “done and dusted” with the matter.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross sympathised with the family on the “terrible tragedy”.

After Mr Cowan sustained the injury, friends set up a trust and carried out fund-raising to help Mr Cowan and his family, as well as help fund his long-term medical care.


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