Beaumont Hospital apology over delayed tumour diagnosis

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Beaumont Hospital has apologised to a former professional golfer who is now paralysed after a delayed diagnosis of a tumour on his spine.

The High Court heard that in 2016, 42-year-old Ian St John went to A&E five times with back pain and was discharged with various diagnoses.

He was finally admitted with excruciating back pain but it took two weeks before his cancer was detected. By then Mr St John was already starting to show signs of paralysis in his legs.

After surgery to remove a tumour, he did not recover power in his legs and now uses a wheelchair.

Today, he settled his High Court action against hospital.

The details of the settlement were not disclosed. An apology was read in court and there was a partial admission of liability in the case.

The hospital admitted it failed to diagnose Mr St John’s tumour in a CT scan on 17 August, 2016 but no admission was made in respect of his treatment in the hospital emergency department prior to his admission as an in-patient.

In a statement read to the court, hospital Chief Executive Ian Carter said he wished on behalf of the hospital to express his “sincere apologies for the failures which occurred during the care provided to you in Beaumont Hospital”.

The statement continued: “I understand that this has had the most serious consequences for you and your family, and I hope that today’s settlement will provide an element of security for the future.”

Mr St John from Pilltown in Co Kilkenny was formerly a PGA professional and head professional at Rush Golf Club, Co Dublin.

It was claimed Mr St John presented at the hospital emergency department on five occasions from 5 August, 2016 complaining of pain in his upper back which was increasing steadily and becoming unbearable. It was claimed on each occasion Mr St John was discharged from the hospital with varying diagnoses.

Due to excruciating pain, Mr St John went back to the hospital on 14 August and he was admitted as an inpatient. It was noted he had a swelling or a lump on his right upper back.

It was claimed Mr St John was subjected to a number of tests and treatments and after two weeks it was noticed that he was suffering paralysis of the lower limbs and an opinion of neurosurgeon was sought.

Following an MRI the tumour which was compressing the nerves was diagnosed. He had an operation to remove the tumour on 28 August, 2016 and he commenced cancer treatment.

Mr St John did not recover the power of his lower limbs which is claimed was caused by prolonged compression of the tumour on the nerves at his thoracic spine.

In his action for damages it was claimed there was a failure to recognise the significance of the severe agonising upper back pain suffered by him and an alleged failure to suspect malignancy despite strongly suggestive clinical features.

This, it was claimed, thereby resulted in an unacceptable delay in performing a diagnostic biopsy and treatment.

In a statement outside court, Ian St John said: “I am pleased that today I have received an apology from Beaumont Hospital. Their failure in care has left me paralysed, to live a life in a wheelchair, a life that is contradictory from the one I enjoyed as a man, a husband, a father and as a PGA Golf Professional.

“The failure in care has caused irreparable physical and psychological damage to my life and the lives of those closest to me.”

He said the case had taken more than four years to reach a conclusion and he thanked his wife Orla, who was eight months’ pregnant at the time, for her love and support and “relentless pursuit to obtain the best care has kept me alive”.

He also thanked his wider family, friends, legal team and oncology team.


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