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Man who sued over death of wife settles High Court action for €1.5m



A man who sued over the death of his wife and claimed a hospital chest CT scan had been allegedly reported incorrectly has settled a High Court action for €1.5 million.

Maureen Vella Whelan, a mother of four who was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer collapsed at home five years ago and died later in hospital.

The family’s counsel, Aongus O Brolchain, instructed by Ciara McPhillips of Michael Boylan solicitors, told the High Court it was their case that if Mrs Vella Whelan had been recalled six months after her first hospital scan her stage one cancer would have been identified and could have been excised.

However, he said the 63-year-old woman was not called back for a second scan for a year and at that stage counsel said her scan was inappropriately referenced as not having altered from the first scan. He said the woman had been initially referred for a CT scan by her GP after she reported having a persistent cough.

Mrs Vella Whelan Counsel said was on a course of chemotherapy in 2016 when she collapsed as she took a bath at home and she died in hospital on September 12th, 2016.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told a further three actions brought by the relatives of Mrs Vella Whelan for nervous shock had also been settled.

Mrs Vella Whelan’s husband, James Whelan of Sallynoggin, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, had sued the HSE over the death of his wife.

The matter was settled without admission of liability.

It was claimed that Mrs Vella Whelan had a CT scan at St Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown, Dublin on November 21st, 2014.

It was claimed the scan was allegedly incorrectly or incompletely reported as showing evidence of minimal focal scarring with no interstitial disease. The scan, it was claimed, in fact showed a ground glass nodule with mass effect in the upper lobe .

A further scan carried out at another hospital a year later was reported in comparison to images from the first scan, and it was allegedly incorrectly or incompletely reported as showing minimal focal scarring in the right upper lobe which was unchanged over a 12-month period, it was claimed. In fact, it was alleged the 2015 scan demonstrated definite growth and increase in density which was allegedly indicative of cancer.

In May 2016, a further CT scan was reported as showing evidence of an enlarging nodule and a biopsy carried out in July 2016 showed cancer.

Among the claims was that the first scan of November 2014 was incorrectly concluded as being unremarkable and there was an alleged failure to detect early primary lung cancer before it had metastasised to the lymph nodes.

Mrs Vella Whelan began chemotherapy on September 5th, 2016, but she collapsed at home six days later.

Outside court, Leon Vella Whelan, speaking on behalf of her father James and the rest of the family, said “nobody was a winner” in the case but the family were relieved their legal battle was over. She said the majority of the €1.5 million award will go towards the future care of her sister who has special needs.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Paul Coffey conveyed his deepest sympathy to Mr Whelan and the extended family on their tragic loss.



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