The family of a 79-year-old woman who died two days after she went to a hospital A&E complaining of a sudden and severe headache but was not admitted have settled a High Court action for €150,000.
Mother-of-two and grandmother-of-three, Kathleen Lynch, collapsed the night after she left hospital when her husband found her unconscious in a pool of blood in their Athlone home. She was rushed back to hospital where a scan showed a bleed on the brain and she died the following day.
Her husband John Lynch who lives in Athlone, Co. Westmeath, along with their daughter Caroline Fordham, who lives in Surrey, England, had sued the HSE over the care she received when she first presented at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, in April 2018.
Mrs Lynch had got a headache while in bed on the night of April 16, 2018. She took a painkiller but an ambulance was called in the early hours of April 17 and she was taken to Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway.
When she was admitted to the emergency department of the hospital in the early hours of April 17 she was complaining of a severe and sudden headache. She was given oxygen and reviewed by a doctor at 5am. She still had a pain in her head and she had some neck stiffness and nausea.
She was given medication.
It was claimed that Mr Lynch, prior to his wife’s discharge later in the morning, told the doctor that his wife was confused and he expressed concerns about her welfare.
She was discharged home at 7am on April 17, 2018, and it was further claimed the couple were informed by the treating doctor there was no reason why she should be admitted to the hospital. Mrs Lynch was also given a prescription for medication.
Mrs Lynch at all times, it was claimed, during her time at the hospital was suffering from a severe headache, nausea, confusion, agitation and unsteadiness and was still suffering from a severe headache when she arrived home on April 17, 2018, and continue to be confused and disorientated.
The next night on April 18, 2018, her husband heard a sound coming from another room and he found his wife unconscious lying in a pool of blood. An ambulance was called and she was brought back to Portiuncula Hospital and transferred to ICU.
She had a CT scan which showed a subarachnoid haemorrhage but it was decided surgical intervention was inappropriate. The family was advised that the prognosis was poor and Mrs Lynch passed away on April 19, 2018.
It was claimed there was an alleged failure to respond appropriately or give due regard to the concerns of Mr Lynch about the condition of his wife on April 17 and there was an alleged failure to perform a CT scan as a matter of urgency when she went into hospital on April 17.
If was further claimed there was an alleged failure to diagnose or respond to an acute subarachnoid haemorrhage in a sufficiently prompt and timely manner or at all.
It was further claimed that Mrs Lynch had been discharged from hospital on April 17 in circumstances where she ought to have been admitted and that she was allegedly deprived of the opportunity of timely and effective investigation and treatment of her complaints.
The claims were denied.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross extended his sympathy to the family.