Family of woman who sued GP over alleged wrongful death settle action

Her GP Dr Ciarán Regan denied liability and contended the deceased refused to submit to the recommended tests and referral, refused to attend for a smear test appointment and refused attempts to book her at later smear clinics in the practice.

The family of a woman who sued a GP over her alleged wrongful death has settled their action for € 475,000. The settlement was made without admission of liability.

Michelle Fitzpatrick Farrell, a mother of five, attended her GP in March 2007 after her fifth baby but was not physically examined or referred for a smear test until October 2008, it was claimed.

Her GP Dr Ciarán Regan denied liability and contended the deceased refused to submit to the recommended tests and referral, refused to attend for a smear test appointment and refused attempts to book her at later smear clinics in the practice.

Sara Moorhead SC, for the deceased’s partner, Robert Farrell, said there was a significant factual dispute in the case.

Approving the settlement on Thursday, Mr Justice Kevin Cross sympathised with the family on their loss.

The court heard, when Ms Fitzpatrick Farrell did have a smear test in October 2008, abnormalities were detected and a tumour was later found. She was told in November 2009 she could only be referred for palliative care and died on March 6th 2010.

Mr Farrell, the long term partner of Ms Fitzpatrick Farrell, Shevlin Court, Strokestown, Co Roscommon had sued Dr Regan who practises at the Health Centre, Strokestown, Co Roscommon, over the alleged wrongful death of his partner.

Ms Fitzpatrick Farrell was a patient of Dr Regan since June 2000.

She had her fifth child on March 15th, 2007 and suffered an ongoing vaginal discharge which was heavy and foul smelling.

It is claimed this caused Ms Fitzpatrick Farrell significant distress and she allegedly consulted with Dr Regan seeking medical advice on her ongoing gynaecological difficulties on different dates between March 2007 and October 2008.

She was allegedly treated on occasions with antibiotics for pelvic infection without, it was claimed, being subjected to any physical examination.

It was claimed there were further visits with the GP and in May 2008 she was to be booked for a smear test and swabs.

On September 4th, 2008, she completed a women’s health clinic questionnaire at the behest of the GP’s medical practice.

It was claimed she relayed the information she had been passing jelly like clots for the last eighteen months and was concerned.

It was alleged she had been given a smear test appointment for later in September which, it was claimed, was cancelled.

It was further claimed, despite repeat attendances at the medical practice, she was not physically examined or subjected to a smear test or swab taking.

It was alleged it was only on October 15th, 2008, when she attended a locum GP in the practice, the seriousness of her gynaecological difficulties were allegedly finally acknowledged and a diagnostic smear test arranged.

The smear test showed up abnormalities and she was referred for an urgent colposcopy but a tumour was later found.

She was not deemed a candidate for surgery and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

She was notified on November 6th, 2009 she could only be offered palliative care and died on March 6th, 2010.

It was claimed there was failure to investigate and treat her condition and her symptoms by way of physical examination and otherwise between March 22nd, 2007 and October 15th, 2008.

Dr Regan denied all the claims and contended Ms Fitzpatrick Farrell had re-attended at his surgery on March 10th, 2008 and was referred to physiotherapist for pelvic floor exercises and advised to accept a referral to a gynaecology department.

When she re-attended at the surgery at the end of March, it was claimed Dr Regan renewed his request for gynaecology referral but she refused to submit to recommended tests and and referral.

It was further alleged the doctor attempted to persuade the woman to address her gynaecological health by undergoing a cervical smear test or by accepting a referral to a gynaecological department.

It was claimed she was booked for the practice smear clinic but refused to attend for the June appointment and refused attempts to book her into the July clinics.

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Source:The Irish Times

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