Man seeks €38k for treatment of gravely ill wife in hospital

A gravely ill woman was kept sitting in a chair for three days in an emergency department and died six days after eventually getting a bed, the Circuit Civil Court was told yesterday

Her husband, now 75, is suing Beaumont Hospital for up to €38,000 in damages.

Anthony Dignam, a chauffeur and taxi driver, of Limekilns, Malahide, Rd, Swords, Co Dublin, says his wife, Mary, had been an in-patient with liver disease at St Patrick’s University Hospital, Dublin, and had been transferred on June 11, 2010, to Beaumont for daily review and treatment.

He says it had been agreed she would be admitted into a bed at Beaumont, as her health was deteriorating.

Instead, she spent three days in a chair before getting a bed on June 14.

Barrister Pat Purcell, counsel for Mr Dignam, told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that Mrs Dignam died in Beaumont on June 20.

Mr Purcell said Mr Dignam had become very upset and distressed as a result of the manner in which his wife was treated and suffered psychological injury. He was alleging negligence and breach of duty on the part of Beaumont Hospital.

The court heard the hospital had lodged a full defence, and the case would continue to a full trial before the Circuit Civil Court.

The court had heard that on June 11, 2010, doctors in St Patrick’s decided that the most appropriate course of action was to discharge Mrs Dignam to the gastroenterology team in Beaumont.

It was agreed that the Beaumont gastroenterology service would review her daily over the weekend and take over her care fully on Monday, June 14.

Mr Dignam claims that, at all times, he believed his wife would be admitted directly into a bed. The St Patrick’s medical team also believed she would be given a bed immediately.

She died on Sunday, June 20. The cause of death indicated she had been at a decompensated end stage of alcoholic liver disease. It had also been noted she had a subdural haematoma.

Mr Dignam claims Beaumont was guilty of negligence and breach of duty, causing the incident of which Mr Dignam complains and causing the injuries and upset he suffered.

He alleges Beaumont failed to tell Mrs Dignam’s consultant in St Patrick’s a bed would not be available for upwards of three days.

He also claims Beaumont failed to properly assess Mrs Dignam and provide her with an appropriate level of comfort.

In his legal pleadings, Mr Dignam states that, following his initial visit to the emergency department at Beaumont, he became quite upset at seeing his wife in a chair, but was assured she would be provided with a bed as soon as possible.

In its defence, Beaumont claimed staff had afforded medical care and treatment to Mrs Dignam with skill, care, and diligence. It stated that while a bed had not become available until June 14, she was given appropriate medical care and treatment.


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