‘I hope it’s a wake-up call for the medical profession’

THE mother of a young man who died following a litany of medical failures and errors said the family pursued a negligence action not for money but because of the “grave injustice” suffered by her son.

Vital blood test results were attached to the back of a GP's referral letter on a "post-it" and were not spotted by a hospital consultant until six weeks after the death of Kevin Murphy, aged 21, the High Court heard.

Mr Murphy, from Montenotte in Cork, died of a heart attack as a result of severe hypercalcaemia excess levels of calcium in the blood.

His family was awarded €76,601 in costs and damages after the High Court ruled it was "quite clear" the 21-year-old should not have died after being transferred from Cork's Mercy Hospital to the city's University Hospital in late September 1999.

The action was taken against Dr Neil Brennan, a consultant at the Mercy Hospital, Cork; the Mercy Hospital; Dr George Mullan, an orthopaedic surgeon and Mr Murphy's GPs, Dr Norman Murphy and Dr Fergus O'Connell.

Admitted to hospital on September 23 1999, the young man's condition was misdiagnosed as nephritis and treated on the basis of the Mercy's unsuitable blood tests. His condition deteriorated and he was transferred two days later to CUH, where he was treated at registrar, not consultant level. He died the following day.

Mr Murphy's mother Margaret, who described her family's near four-year battle with members of the medical profession, as a "David and Goliath" situation, said she was very angry they had to take court action.

"It's not the most appropriate. I hope it will be a wake-up call for the medical profession," Mrs Murphy said.

Standing with her husband, Barry, daughter Dorothy, 27, and son Brian, 30, Mrs Murphy added: "All we wanted was answers. All they had to do was hold their hands up and say they did wrong.

"We hope lessons can be learned about the documentation of records and the transfer of information from A to B."

Adrienne Egan, for the defendants, said her clients accepted liability, regretted what had happened and wanted to express their sorrow for Kevin's death.

The award is to go to the charities, Bóthar and the Make A Wish Foundation.

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