First claim made against State after death of person who contracted Covid in hospital

First claim made against State after death of person who contracted Covid in hospital

It has not been confirmed if the person who died was an employee of a hospital or a patient, or which hospital is involved. File picture

A claim has been made against the State by the family of an individual who caught Covid-19 while in hospital and subsequently died.

If the claim is held up, it is understood the State could be liable to pay out millions of euro in compensation.

HSE figures show that up to the end of last year, 967 people had caught Covid-19 in hospital. 

The State Claims Agency (SCA) manages personal injury claims on behalf of delegated State authorities, including the HSE.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed: "The number of claims notified to the SCA which relate to the death of a family member/dependent as a result of contracting Covid-19 in the acute hospital group setting is one."

Information from the National Incident Management System notes the claims are lodged according to criteria:

  • Hospital setting is interpreted as claims notified to the SCA which relate to incidents occurring within the acute hospital group;
  • Claims arising could relate to the death of a service user or staff member.

It has not been confirmed if the person who died was an employee of a hospital or a patient, or which hospital is involved.

Hospital cases

During the 'third wave' at Christmas, from December 27 to January 27 alone, 846 patients caught Covid-19 while in hospital, according to HSE figures.

Last year, an emergency report was requested about Mayo University Hospital after concerns of crossover which found a "lack of isolation facilities, emergency department risk due to overcrowding, no isolation, lack of negative pressure rooms, and bed capacity," which added to the risk of patients catching Covid-19

The information came by way of parliamentary question to Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín.

"It is one of the most tragic aspects of this pandemic — we've all come across stories about maybe a relatively healthy old person who suffered a fall, wound up in hospital, got the virus, and died," he said.

"I have utmost respect for our frontline workers, but in many cases they were left abandoned by the HSE in terms of staffing and indeed PPE at the start of the pandemic.

"The crisis raises serious questions about Ireland's low health service capacity. It must be one of the legacies of the crisis that Ireland increases its per capita hospital capacity to help deal with the 800,000 people now waiting on hospital waiting lists.

"Families are entitled to pursue justice for their loved ones in the courts. It remains to be seen just how many claims will be notified to the SCA in the coming weeks and months."

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