Wexford widow awarded €60,000 after bringing case against HSE and consultant

By David tucker

Published 19/03/2016 | 00:00

Dr. Colm Quigley.
Dr. Colm Quigley.

A WEXFORD widow has come to the end of a long and harrowing ordeal following the settlement of a medical negligence action against a consultant doctor and the HSE over an alleged failure to diagnose her late husband's lung cancer. She was awarded €60,000.

The High Court action was brought by Rosarii Molloy Curran, from Killurin, following the death of her husband John Curran from lung cancer in April 2011.

Liability was admitted in the case and an apology was made in court to the Curran family on behalf of Dr Colm Quigley.

Ms Molloy had sued Dr Quigley, a specialist in respiratory and general medicine at Ely Hospital and the HSE, for alleged negligence and breach of duty of care towards her husband John, between August 2009 and the time of his death

In a statement issued by their solicitor Dermot McNamara following Friday's hearing, the family said they welcomed the settlement and hope that it will lead to the introduction of failsafe protocols for patients awaiting vital tests.

'This has been a long and harrowing ordeal for the family of the late John Curran, who died on April 11, 2011,' said Mr McNamara.

'In the case of Mr Curran, necessary tests were not carried out, despite the assurances of Dr Colm Quigley that they would be.

'This led to a finding of poor professional performance against Dr Quigley by the Medical Council for failing to arrange the tests, failing to recognise the tests had not been carried out, and failing to have 'any adequate system' in place for 'tracking or monitoring tests'.

'In this case, there was no system in place for the follow-up of investigations proposed to be carried out on Mr Curran.

'When tests are ordered to be carried out on a patient, there should be a clear and visible pathway to alert their clinician that the test has not been carried out,' said the solicitor, speaking on the Curran family's behalf.

'The family would urge anyone who has concerns about their treatment, or the treatment of a loved one, to follow their example and ensure that their concerns are investigated and addressed.'

In her action Ms Curran of Carrigmannon, Killurin, sought damages for the emotion suffering and psychological injury she says she suffered as a result of her husband's death.

Dr Quigley's counsel told the court that as a result of what happened changes to the system of patient management have now been implemented to ensure what happened didn't occur again.

In 2013, Dr. Quigley was found guilty of poor professional performance by a fitness to practise inquiry of the Medical Council.

The Medical Council said at the time that it 'had decided to advise the Practitioner (Dr. Quigley) in relation to his performance'.

According to a glossary of terms used at fitness to practise inquiries, the word 'Advise' relates to 'a sanction open to the Medical Council which means to 'recommend a course of action'.

The finding of poor professional performance of a doctor was a lesser outcome than the more serious accusation of 'professional misconduct', which was not levelled against Dr Quigley at the Medical Council hearing.

Mr Curran was referred by his GP to Dr Quigley's private clinic at the Ely Hospital at Ferrybank, on August 27, 2009.

He was said to have been suffering from a number of complaints including low sodium in the blood.

After the consultation, Dr Quigley wrote to Mr Curran's GP and said he would be carrying out a series of tests on him. These tests were never carried out.

In December 2010 it is claimed Mr Curran was diagnosed by Dr Quigley as having 'Raynaud's phenomenon' - a condition where a person has excessively reduced blood flow generally caused by stress - and prescribed him with medication.

Mr Curran died of inoperable lung cancer. There is no allegation that Dr. Quigley caused the patient's health to deteriorate or in any way contributed to his death.

Dr Quigley told the Medical Council inquiry he believed subsequent examination of medical records had shown Mr Curran had not contracted the cancer that killed him in 2010 - and so the missing tests in 2009 could not have revealed it.

However, the fitness to practise committee found him guilty of 'poor professional performance' in failing to arrange the tests, failing to recognise the tests had not been carried out, and failing to have 'any adequate system' in place for tracking or monitoring tests'.

He was also guilty of failing to 'respond adequately' to letters and phone calls over a number of months by Mr. and Mrs Curran and his GP enquiring as to why the tests had not yet been carried out. Ms Curran claimed her husband was deprived of the opportunity and the benefits of an early diagnosis and subsequent treatment of his condition.

As a consequence of not getting such a diagnosis or treatment he died, it was further claimed. There was an alleged failure to have a proper regard for Mr Curran's clinical presentation including his age, and his high tobacco consumption. The action came before Mr Justice Kevin Cross who approved the settlement.

Wexford People

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