Children who lost mother in Setúbal hospital blunder wait 31 years for compensation

They lost their mother due to a horrific medical blunder made by a nurse at Setúbal hospital in 1984 and yet they had to wait 31 years for compensation. The tragic story was revealed this week as the Supreme Administrative court (STA) finally set damages payable to the children – aged two and seven when they lost their mother – at €130,000. The situation is “manifestly serious” said judges, failing to identify any of the parties involved.

The tragedy happened when the woman, a former nurse who had left work to dedicate herself to raising her young family, went into hospital for surgery to correct a “urinary problem”.

During the administration of the anaesthetic, doctors are reported to have “confused” bottles. Instead of using nitrogen and oxygen, they used oxygen and carbon dioxide – which caused the 24-year-old to go into a coma. She died seven days later.

After the death, the family is understood to have lodged a criminal complaint for negligent homicide. This was later archived after agreement was reached with the medical professionals involved – but in 1992, the family decided once again to press for damages, this time lodging a civil action against the hospital.

According to press reports, the hospital was condemned to pay damages but appealed. This is why the case has taken so long to be settled.