Cork family of man, 36, who died of colon cancer settle for € 1.75m over alleged delay in diagnosis

The family of a 36-year-old man who died of colon cancer has settled for € 1.75m in a High Court action over the alleged delay in his cancer diagnosis.

Father of three Garry Buckley from Waterfall in Cork died of colon cancer in 2008.

It is claimed because of the history of hereditary colon cancer in his family, the farmer and businessman should have been submitted for genetic testing and there was an alleged failure to diagnose the presence of colorectal cancer in a timely fashion.

The Buckley side contended had the tumor been diagnosed at an earlier stage, more effective treatment would have been relied upon and Mr Buckley’s death prevented.

In the High Court on Friday, Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told the settlement, which is without an admission of liability, is against the HSE and a consultant at Cork University Hospital at the time, William Kirwan. All the claims were denied by the parties.

‘Red lights’

The Buckley family counsel, Dr John O’Mahony SC with Tadhg Dorgan BL, told the court it was their case that there were “very significant and repeated delays” and by the time the cancer was found it was too late.

“It was too late to save the father of three who was an enterprising and energetic young man,” Dr O’Mahony said. Counsel said Mr Buckley was a successful businessman and farmer whose children were very young at the time of his death.

He said it was their case that the Buckley family history with colon cancer should have “flagged red lights”.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey expressed his deepest sympathy to Deirdre Buckley and her family. He said it must be a comfort to her that the proceedings were over. He wished the family the very best for the future.

Deirdre Buckley, Ravakeel, Waterfall, Co Cork, had sued the HSE and consultant William Kirwan whose practice at the time was at Cork University Hospital.

Buckley family’s claims

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to diagnose the presence of hereditary colorectal cancer at as early a stage as possible and an alleged failure to carry out any adequate monitoring of Mr Buckley considering his family history.

Mr Buckley had first attended consultant Mr William Kirwan on November 29, 1993, complaining of an irregular bowel habit. A colonoscopy was arranged and carried out at Cork University Hospital. The results were stated to be normal.

It is claimed no genetic tests were done and no further follow-up colonoscopy was undertaken until 2005. In February 2005, Mr Buckley was referred by his GP to Mr Kirwan and another colonoscopy was carried out at CUH, which was reported as normal.

In July of that year, Mr Buckley attended another consultant at the hospital. Mr Buckley was complaining of abdominal discomfort over a six-month period and he had lost a stone in weight. A diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome was made.

Mr Buckley was reviewed in October 2005 and reported to have responded to the medication. At a review a year later in 2006, Mr Buckley was noted, it is claimed, to be continuing to suffer weight loss and abdominal pain.

Mr Buckley was admitted to another hospital where a colonoscopy showed a tumor and at surgery a large tumor was found in the abdominal wall region. Mr Buckley was sent for chemotherapy and other treatments but died on January 10, 2008.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to provide adequate surveillance, monitoring and screening as is appropriate for family members with a history of the disease and an alleged failure to ensure Mr Buckley was assessed by a geneticist.

There was also, it was claimed, an alleged failure to recognize that it was possible Mr Buckley was suffering with colon cancer in view of family history and his presenting signs. All the claims were denied.

Mr Kirwan said in his defense that he had treated Mr Buckley’s father on many occasions and he said he had repeatedly advised that all family members should be regularly checked.


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