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Thursday 14 December 2017

Elderly woman kicked and pushed by carer gets €25,000 damages

Maria Flanagan, daughter of Phyllis Byrne. Photo: Collins
Maria Flanagan, daughter of Phyllis Byrne. Photo: Collins

the employers of a carer who kicked and pushed an elderly woman back into her chair as she fed her at Beaumont Hospital have been ordered to pay the victim €25,000.

The Circuit Civil Court heard how dementia sufferer Phyllis Byrne, now in a Co Wicklow nursing home, had through her daughter Maria Flanagan sued the hospital and CPL Resources and CPL Healthcare for €60,000.

Barrister Michael Coen said the carer, Valeria Bogdan, had been provided by the CPL Healthcare agency, which has a registered office at Percy Place, Dublin 4, and was a joint defendant with CPL Resources, of Merrion Square, Dublin, and Beaumont Hospital.

Mr Coen told the court that Ms Byrne was 77 when the incident took place in a private room at Beaumont in April 2011.

"If the assault had not been witnessed by a woman who was visiting another patient in a private room across the corridor from Ms Byrne, and who reported it to a senior nurse in Beaumont, we would never have known about it," he said.

Mr Coen told court president Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that the three defendants were meeting the proposed settlement of €25,000, which he was recommending and asking the court to approve.

He said a legal claim initiated against Ms Bogdan was not being proceeded with and could be struck out with no further order.

Ms Byrne's daughter had been told unknown disciplinary action had been taken against Ms Bogdan.

Mr Coen told the court the carer had been giving Ms Byrne breakfast and it was accepted that she was a challenging patient, who had engaged "in verbals" with Ms Bogdan.

He said the incident was witnessed by Ms Margaret Rooney, who had told a Beaumont Hospital investigation that she had seen the carer on several occasions forcefully push Ms Byrne back into her chair and kick her twice under her table.

Mr Coen said it happened on the morning of April 16, 2011, and had been reported soon after.

Bruising

He added that the hospital had carried out a thorough investigation and produced a report, in which it stated it had accepted the incident had taken place.

Mr Coen said Ms Byrne had been medically examined afterwards and no fresh bruising had been found on her, only existing old bruises.

He said it was the first time Ms Bogdan had met Ms Byrne, and there was a verbal interaction between them. Ms Byrne had attempted to get out of her chair and it was then that she had been pushed back and then kicked.

"To be fair to Ms Bogdan, an experienced and fully-trained carer, she had shortly afterwards asked the hospital to reassign her and she had no further contact with Ms Byrne," Mr Coen said.

He said apologies had been made to Ms Byrne's family by all of the defendants concerned.

Judge Groarke said it was a very sad story and should, "absolutely without question, never have happened".

"We are all human, and I am not saying that in any way to excuse the conduct of the nurse who was obviously having a bad day," he said.

"The defendants have met this case extremely fairly and carried out a very careful and thorough investigation, now coming into court with an apology and a good offer."

He added that he would approve the settlement offer, with costs, and make an order that the money be paid into court to the benefit of Ms Byrne.

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