Woman who can only communicate through eye movements settles High Court action for €250,000

Iaroslava Arkypenko (77) allegedly suffered massive stroke several hours after arriving at St Vincent’s hospital emergency department

St. Vincent's hospital, Elm Park, Dublin yesterday (Monday 9th April)
PIC: DAVE MEEHAN
MONDAY 9TH APRIL 2007

A Ukrainian woman who has locked-in syndrome after allegedly suffering a massive stroke almost seven hours after arriving at the emergency department of a Dublin hospital has settled a High Court action for €250,000.

Pensioner Iaroslava Arkypenko is completely paralysed and can only communicate through eye movements, the court heard.

The 73-year-old sued St Vincent’s Healthcare Group over the care she received at St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, after she was brought by ambulance to the emergency department on September 27th, 2022 at around 7.30pm. She was complaining of dizziness and nausea.

It was claimed she was seen by a doctor after 10pm but, after 2am on September 28th, suffered a massive stroke.

READ MORE

In the proceedings it was alleged that at 2.15am on September 28th, Ms Arkypenko’s son called nursing staff as she was slumped to one side in a chair and had left-sided weakness.

St Vincent’s Healthcare Group denied all the claims and, the court heard, the settlement sum represents 50 per cent of the damages sought to reflect the litigation risks in the case.

Sara Moorehead SC, instructed by Niall Kiernan solicitor, told the court Ms Arkypenko is now cared for in a nursing home in the Leinster region. As part of the settlement she can remain at the nursing home under the Fair Deal scheme, said Ms Moorehead.

Counsel said the woman was visiting her family in Dublin when, on September 27th, 2022, her son returned to the house to find her lying down and complaining of dizziness and vomiting.

He accompanied her to St Vincent’s Hospital emergency department where she was classified as “Level 3″, which suggested she should be seen within an hour, counsel said. Ms Arkypenko was not seen until 10pm and by a doctor at 10.30pm, the court heard.

Counsel said the woman was diagnosed as doing well and the doctor was then called away to an emergency. At 2.15am, counsel said, Ms Arkpypenko had a massive stroke.

She said part of their case was that if the woman had a scan before 10.30pm she could have been sent to Beaumont Hospital for treatment.

In the proceedings it was claimed there was a failure to detect the onset of acute stroke despite the history and presenting complaints.

It was also claimed the woman was not referred for emergency CT imaging in a timely manner, which it was claimed would have identified an acute posterior circulation stroke.

There was an alleged failure to detect or diagnose acute stroke in the woman in a timely manner so as to ensure that in the event of a serious case she would be given an appropriate emergency treatment in order to prevent a catastrophic outcome of locked-in syndrome.

All of the claims were denied.

Noting the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said he thought it was fair and reasonable considering the litigation risk in the case.