Adelaide grandmother’s $2.4 million hospital compo win

EXCLUSIVE | An 84-year-old woman has won a $2.4 million payout after a court battle with Flinders Medical Centre whose negligence left her a quadriplegic.

Aug 17, 2022, updated Aug 17, 2022
Photos: Tony Lewis/InDaily. Artwork: Tom Aldahn/InDaily

Photos: Tony Lewis/InDaily. Artwork: Tom Aldahn/InDaily

Edita Siroky lodged a claim of medical negligence in the Supreme Court after the hospital failed to diagnose a bacterial spinal infection in 2018, resulting in her becoming a quadriplegic.

The hospital initially denied any wrongdoing, but last year admitted negligence and liability.

Despite that concession, the hospital has spent the past year in a bitter legal battle with the Czech-born grandmother over the cost of her care and how much compensation she should be paid, leaving the matter destined for trial.

Now, more than four years after the hospital’s negligence caused her injuries, a settlement has been reached, with the State Government – on behalf of Flinders Medical Centre – agreeing to pay Siroky $2.4 million in damages.

Siroky’s solicitor, DBH Lawyers partner Peter Jackson, told InDaily: “It was an unfortunate incident that never should have happened at the Flinders Medical Centre.”

“After a lengthy litigation the family are grateful that the matter has finally resolved for an amount of money that they hope will support their mother for the rest of her life,” he said.

In her statement of claim, Siroky, who receives full-time care from her son, said the medical negligence occurred over 13 days in February 2018.

She was taken by ambulance to Noarlunga Hospital on February 14 with a three-day history of sore throat, difficulty and pain swallowing, sore neck, a dry cough, fever and vomiting.

She was given fluids and antibiotics and hospital staff performed several tests including blood tests and X-rays.

Siroky’s claim said she was transferred to Flinders Medical Centre where she was diagnosed with tonsillitis and discharged on February 16 with an antibiotics prescription and a recommendation to follow up with her GP.

Two days later she was back in the FMC emergency department with worse head, neck and chest pain.

She spent several days in hospital, where more tests were done and she was given a steroid medication before being discharged again.

On February 27, Siroky collapsed while in the car park of her chiropractor and was rushed by ambulance back to FMC.

She was admitted to the intensive care unit where tests confirmed an infection and damage to her spine.

In her claim, Siroky argued that by administering a high dose of a steroid medication, the hospital caused a “rapid progression” of her undiagnosed spinal condition and left her a quadriplegic.

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“As a result of the negligence of the hospital in failing to diagnose and treat Mrs Siroky’s infective process, she suffered discitis of the cervical spine and the infection spread with formation of an abscess… which left untreated grew, causing cord compression and sub-total quadriplegia,” her claim stated.

Siroky sought damages for physical and psychiatric injuries.

In its initial defence filed with the court, Flinders Medical Centre denied negligence.

In an updated defence, the hospital conceded it was at fault, saying it “admits that as a result of its negligence the plaintiff was rendered a sub-total quadriplegic”.

The hospital also admitted that Siroky “has required and will require medical treatment for her spinal epidural abscess, cord infarction and sub-total paraplegia”.

But it denied that she had required or would require treatment for any psychiatric injury.

“The respondent admits that the applicant’s capacity to function physically and enjoyment of life have been impaired by the physical injuries but denies that the applicant suffered psychological injuries,” the defence stated.

The hospital also argued that if Siroky has suffered any economic or non-economic loss, it was related “wholly or at least partially” to pre-existing conditions including high blood pressure, a heart condition, obesity, glaucoma, depression and a fracture of her right leg.

The matter was scheduled for a 10-day trial this month before the settlement was reached.

InDaily asked SA Health how much the State Government had spent on legal fees fighting the case and for comment on the outcome.

A spokesperson said in a statement: “The State Government has reached an agreement with Ms Siroky in relation to this matter.”

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