Family of man (93) who died after nursing home fall settle High Court action

Noel O’Sullivan was a resident of the Bon Secours Care Village on the Lee Road in Cork since March 2020

A Cork nursing home has offered “sincerest regrets” to the family of a 93-year-old man who died days after what was claimed was his 10th fall in the care home.

The letter of regret was read out in the High Court as the family of Noel O’Sullivan, of Ballinlough, Cork, settled on confidential terms a legal action over his death. The settlement is without an admission of liability.

Father of five and grandfather to nine, Mr O’Sullivan died from a traumatic brain injury, a postmortem later showed. In the 10th fall at the Bon Secours Care Village on the Lee Road in Cork on October 12th, 2020, it was also claimed he fractured his hip and a wrist. He died six days later in hospital.

The family’s counsel, Pearse Sreenan SC instructed by Cantillons Solicitors, told the High Court the elderly man suffered this last fall in his bedroom at the home in the early hours of October 12th. He said in the space of eight months, Mr O’Sullivan had suffered nine other falls in the nursing home.


He said an expert care consultant on their side would have said there were alleged “multiple systemic failures” in the way Mr O’Sullivan was cared for.

The case was before the High Court for the division of the €35,000 mental distress statutory payment only.

The Bon Secours Health System on behalf of the management and staff of the nursing home in a letter read to the court offered “sincerest regrets” to the O’Sullivan family on the death of Noel.

It said it acknowledged the experience was devastating “and that it continues to have a profound and lasting effect” on the family.

The letter signed by the Bon Secours chief nursing quality and patient officer Margaret McHugh added: “We appreciate that your experience with the nursing home here in this sad time did not meet expectations and we offer our sincerest regrets.”

In a statement outside court Mr O’Sullivan’s daughter Regina Nolan said her father was a kind caring man with a wonderful social conscience. “He deserved better,” she said.

Regina Nolan, of Ballinlough, Cork, had sued Bon Secours Health System, trading as St Joseph’s Hospital, Bon Secours Care Village, Lee Road, Cork.

Mr O’Sullivan, who had mild dementia and impaired mobility, was admitted to the nursing home on March 24th, 2020. He was given a fall risk assessment and was deemed at high risk of a fall and was also deemed to be totally dependant.

It is claimed that between March 24th, 2020 and October 12th, 2020, the pensioner fell on at least 10 occasions.

According to records, his first fall was the day he was admitted to the nursing home, while the second was on April 14th, as he was transferring himself from a wheelchair to an armchair.

On October 12th, 2020, it was claimed Mr O’Sullivan was found on his bedroom floor in the early hours. It was recorded he had a graze and a bump on his forehead, a painful left shoulder and bruising to his left hip. He was put to bed and seen by a doctor six hours later at 8am and transferred to a hospital at 9.30am.

Mr O’Sullivan died on October 18th, 2020.

It was claimed there was a failure to have adequate policies or procedures in place to identify residents who were at risk of falling and to ensure measures were adopted to minimise the risk of falls. It was further alleged there was a failure to adequately supervise and monitor Mr O’Sullivan when mobilising. The claims were denied.

Noting the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey extended his deepest sympathy to the O’Sullivan family.

At an inquest two years ago into Mr O’Sullivan’s death, the Coroner’s Court heard a new post-fall protocol had been developed for residents at the nursing home who suffer major or serious injury.