The family of a 21-year-old woman who died from blood clots in her lungs after being discharged from University Hospital Limerick, have said they hope no other family will have to suffer as they have.
Eve Cleary’s parents were speaking following the settlement of their High Court case and the hospital’s decision to set up a programme examining how blood clots are recognised, reduced and managed, in their daughter’s name.
Eve, from Corbally in Limerick died in the early hours of Sunday, 21 July 2019, just hours after being discharged from the hospital. She had attended the hospital two days previously after falling and hurting her leg.
Her parents, Barry and Melanie and her five siblings sued the HSE, claiming no risk assessment was carried out on Eve, no anti-clotting medication was administered, and she was allowed to develop a deep vein thrombosis.
The HSE denied the claims and the action was being fully defended during a hearing in the High Court, which was in its seventh day.
The family said Eve was admitted to the hospital from the emergency department on the afternoon of Saturday 20 July.
An expert witness on their behalf said a risk assessment should have been carried out at that stage and the court was told the anti-coagulant, Heparin, should have been administered.
However, the HSE claimed Eve had not been formally admitted to the hospital – she had simply been given a bed so she could have a CT scan carried out.
Such scans are not normally carried out at the weekends in non-urgent cases, the court heard.
She collapsed at home and went into cardiac arrest shortly after being discharged from hospital on Saturday and died in the early hours of Sunday morning despite the efforts of father, and of paramedics to resuscitate her.
Her family’s lawyers said she would not have died if she had been given Heparin in hospital.
The court was told this morning that a settlement had been reached without an admission of liability.
‘Sincere condolences and deep regret’
Senior Counsel, Dr John O’Mahony on behalf of the family told Mr Justice Paul Coffey that the defence put forward by the HSE that Eve had not been formally admitted was “quite extraordinary”.
He said his team were writing to the HSE to seek clarification of the extremely strange defence of “administrative exceptionalism”. He said he was totally puzzled by it and would like to get an explanation for it.
Dr O’Mahony told the judge it was a horrifically tragic case and the hearing had been very tough and challenging for the entire family.
In a statement, the hospital extended its “sincere condolences and deep regret” to Eve’s family on her untimely death.
It said it had taken on board the issues and concerns raised by the family and wanted to reassure them that the hospital group strived at all times to optimise patient care.
It said it would now be introducing a “rolling audit programme”, on a quarterly basis, on recognising, reducing and managing venous thromboembolism on a quarterly basis, in memory of Eve Cleary and “in the spirit and name of her legacy”.
It said the finding would be shared with the UL Hospital Groups’ governance group and would inform quality improvement programmes across the group.
Peace after four-and-a-half years
Eve’s mother, Melanie, told the judge she hoped other families would be protected by the protocols in her daughter’s name and she said that meant the world to her children.
Ms Cleary said she was relieved the case was over and it was the first time in four-and-a-half years she had felt peace.
Outside court she read a message from Eve’s four sisters and her brother who are aged between 16 and 20-years-old.
They said their beautiful sister was kind, caring and full of love. They said she was a good person with “so much left to give” and what happened to her should not have happened. They said they missed her every day of their lives.
Eve’s father, Barry, said she had done the right thing by going to seek help after hurting her leg. He added that the outcome of the court case had vindicated her and hoped she would rest in peace.
The Cleary’s solicitor, Siobhan Fahy, said the case had been a long and hard-fought battle and Eve’s parents had been through Hell.
Ms Fahy said there had been no need for contentious litigation and the dignity displayed by the Cleary family was extraordinary.
She added that the cause was worth the fight and the healing process would now begin.